Boris Johnson retracts claim that two thirds of London cyclists killed or seriously injured were breaking law

Admission he got it wrong comes in same week East-West route plans revealed, showing both sides of London's 'cycling mayor'

by Simon_MacMichael   October 5, 2012  

Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson LBC debate YouTube still

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has admitted that he was wrong to claim that two thirds of cyclists killed or seriously injured while cycling in London were breaking the law at the time of the incident.

News of the retraction of the claim came in the same week that the mayor said he was pushing for a much-needed East-West cycle route in the capital, the two episodes illustrating something Mr Johnson is often accused of by his critics – the gulf between his enthusiasm for headline generating schemes, but at the same time his lack of attention to detail.

Cycling, and the safety of cyclists specifically, provides perhaps the starkest contrast between the two, tragically illustrated last year in the aftermath of the deaths of Brian Dorling and Svitlana Tereschenko as they rode through Bow Roundabout.

Following those fatalities, it came to light that Transport for London (TfL), which Mr Johnson chairs, had ignored recommendations relating to the safety of cyclists and pedestrians at the junction in a report it had commissioned regarding the junction. Safety concerns had also been raised by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC).

Mr Johnson, however, insisted that he was unaware of the existence of that report. Six months on, when quizzed by Labour candidate Ken Livingstone during a mayoral election debate regarding comments apparently made by his former transport advisor Kulveer Ranger that smoothing traffic flow , rather than safety, was the mayor’s priority at Bow, Mr Johnson replied only that he had “no idea what Kulveer Ranger may or may not have said.”

The LCC and Green Assembly Member Jenny Jones were among those who took the mayor to task for his statement about cyclists who had fallen victim to road traffic incidents, which he had made during a Mayor’s Question Time in May this year.

In a subsequent Mayor’s Question Time session on 19 September, Ms Jones asked Mr Johnson: “It has been several months since you asked Transport for London to ‘look at’ whether there was any evidence for your statement that two thirds of cycling collisions are the result of cyclists not obeying the rules of the road. What is Transport for London’s answer and will you now give a public correction?”

In a written answer, Mr Johnson replied: “I asked Transport for London to look into a statistic that I was told about during my election campaign. Its own statistics and research suggest this is not the case in London and I am pleased to be able to set the record straight on this.

Charlie Lloyd of LCC, which reported the development last week, welcomed Mr Johnson’s clarification, saying: "The mayor is to be congratulated for having the courage to admit he made a mistake: this retraction should help correct the damaging misconception, including among many politicians and journalists, that people who are hurt while riding a bicycle are usually responsible for their own injuries."

LCC added that TfL’s own figures show that only three or four out of every 100 cyclists who are killed or seriously injured were breaking the law at the time of the incident, More than 95 per cent, in other words, were complying with the rules of the road.

The organisation had pushed Mr Johnson to retract his statement regarding cycling casualties during an ‘Ask Boris’ question and answer session on Twitter in June, and last week in another of those regular sessions, he confirmed that an East-West cycle route was being explored.

Asked by Twitter user Katie Wignall, “The cycle superhighways are excellent. Any plans to extend them in the near future?,” the mayor responded: "we are whacking in another six soon plus i have asked tfl for a big new east west route - and they like it! #askboris @kdwignall" 

As a post on the blog Cyclists in the City points out, such a route would be a much needed addition to London’s network of cycle routes, but concerns are also raised about whether Westminster Council would be willing to fully embrace and implement such a proposal.

 

19 user comments

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this blokes just a twat isn't he, not sure he knows what he's doing half the time. Incompetence at it's best .....

posted by Karbon Kev [652 posts]
5th October 2012 - 9:29

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No apology, just a "look everybody at how I'm such an affable chap in coming back with the true figure."

The guy is a pestilence on the city and his legacy will be that we spend decades cleaning up his shit.

I cant believe that LCC allowed him to get off so lightly with such a pitiful statement like that. That's why I'll never join them.

posted by zanf [380 posts]
5th October 2012 - 10:23

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agree with zanf above. Why the LCC would congratulate Boris for correcting a fabricated statistic is beyond comprehension. Nobody should be under any illusions as to where his priorities lie.

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posted by theclaw [75 posts]
5th October 2012 - 10:27

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Tw@

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posted by djcritchley [141 posts]
5th October 2012 - 10:34

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Boris is one of the few politicians who does his best to serve his electorate, rather than his own agenda. He might not always get things right (first time or at all) but he listens and is prepared to change his view in the face of a convincing argument. How many other politicians can you say that about?

posted by Mr Will [84 posts]
5th October 2012 - 10:53

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He can be quite amusing but thats all he really has ..

Just another overly self entitled toff ruining this country .. London is like a plaything for him, a little project ...

I'd like to see him do a proper weeks work, just everyday stuff - Driver, Builder, Retails Assistant, etc ...... lets see how smart he is then ...

My guess is you'd be better off with an educated Chimp ... Smile

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [298 posts]
5th October 2012 - 11:23

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But what do you want in a London mayor? A bumbling buffoon who talks in riddles and promises everything and delivers nothing? I don't .... they should vote someone in who isn't full of $hit .....

posted by Karbon Kev [652 posts]
5th October 2012 - 12:24

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Mr Will wrote:
Boris is one of the few politicians who does his best to serve his electorate, rather than his own agenda.

Surprise

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posted by TheHatter [808 posts]
5th October 2012 - 12:43

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Whenever I think of what a clot Boris is, it only takes a few seconds before I remember what a whinging, toadying, slimy, odious, horrible little creep Ken was and is.

Still: it could be worse. George Galloway.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [642 posts]
5th October 2012 - 14:35

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Mr Will wrote:
Boris is one of the few politicians who does his best to serve his electorate, rather than his own agenda. He might not always get things right (first time or at all) but he listens and is prepared to change his view in the face of a convincing argument. How many other politicians can you say that about?

Boris? Is that you?

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
5th October 2012 - 15:40

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Two things that mean I can forgive Ken pretty much anything.

Free and utterly fantastic Smiths gig outside County Hall before Maggie evicted him.

Coming to talk at my school and getting into an argument at lunch with the headmaster who got up and flounced out in a hissy fit, much to the extreme merriment of several hundred boys watching.

Big Grin

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7489 posts]
5th October 2012 - 15:58

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@Simon_MacMichael He will have my admiration for one of the boldest moves to try make London a great city to live in (that riled the Tories so much) and that was the GLC's 1981 policy of "Fares Fair"

The impact of it was almost instant and to think what London would be like 31 years on would definitely put other European cities to shame.

posted by zanf [380 posts]
5th October 2012 - 16:51

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@Mr Will Actually I think Boris is almost entirely self-serving and a poor listener. However we all make mistakes, he got this number wrong and corrected it - no big deal, let's all move on.

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posted by iDavid [45 posts]
5th October 2012 - 21:15

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I was in London today using Boris Bike and was in a tiny minority of bike riders who stopped at red lights, didn't ride on the pavement or otherwise break the law.

A straw poll, I know. But likely to be a typical experience and certainly made me sympathise with the general public view that the majority of people on bikes ignore the laws of the road.

Whilst many motorists break the law, they are generally stamped on if caught; financial penalties in the form of fines and points on license that add up to higher insurance bills, and ultimately their toy taken away.

I'm not defending motorists over those who cycle - I do both; 15k miles per year on a bike, 8k miles per year in a car - or trying to suggest one set of lawbreaking is an excuse for another.

I just think if people on bikes want to be considered part of the traffic, best at least behave like we are, by complying with the rules - especially those that are designed to make using the road safer for everyone.

What is the difference; asking a car to wait 2 mins behind someone on a bike or asking that person on a bike to wait 2 mins til a traffic light goes green? Are they both in such a rush??

Ticktock

posted by Michael5 [121 posts]
5th October 2012 - 21:34

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Michael5 wrote:
Whilst many motorists break the law, they are generally stamped on if caught; financial penalties in the form of fines and points on license that add up to higher insurance bills, and ultimately their toy taken away.

Unfortunately, that summation bears no weight whatsoever: car drivers regularly RLJ, drive without due care and attention, use mobile devices and get away with it. When they are hauled in front of courts for traffic offences, the resulting punishments are derisory to the point of insulting. You only have to do a search here or on the CTC site for reports of cases demonstrating it time over.

Michael5 wrote:
I just think if people on bikes want to be considered part of the traffic, best at least behave like we are, by complying with the rules - especially those that are designed to make using the road safer for everyone.

It is far too late (like over 100 years) for anyone to be holding reservations whether cycles are a part of traffic or not (and will be considered only if they behave). Bicycles are traffic and have been for a while before cars came into existence. That line of thought is so wrong it can only be seen as ignorant and dumb. Its as stupid as when they were telling women they can only have the vote if they stop misbehaving.

The fact of the matter is that cyclists safety will not improve if everyone obeyed every single road law. The crap infrastructure, the terrible attitude of a lot of drivers, as well as the inability of a large amount of them to maintain their attention to driving their vehicle safely will still be there. Suggesting all cyclists should behave before things improve (or moves made to improve things) is like saying women shouldn't dress like sluts if they want respect.

Michael5 wrote:
What is the difference; asking a car to wait 2 mins behind someone on a bike or asking that person on a bike to wait 2 mins til a traffic light goes green? Are they both in such a rush??

Studies carried out by TfL have shown that the number of cyclists RLJ is a small minority and when cyclists were questioned after they had jumped lights, it was more a case of safety than 'being an arsehole'. You only have to read a CCIWF post from last year about Russell Square to understand that because of how the infrastructure is designed, it is safer to RLJ than it is to obey the 'rules'.

posted by zanf [380 posts]
6th October 2012 - 4:05

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zanf wrote:

Studies carried out by TfL have shown that the number of cyclists RLJ is a small minority and when cyclists were questioned after they had jumped lights, it was more a case of safety than 'being an arsehole'. You only have to read a CCIWF post from last year about Russell Square to understand that because of how the infrastructure is designed, it is safer to RLJ than it is to obey the 'rules'.

Do you really, honestly believe this? In what reality is it safer to venture across the path of traffic rather than waiting at a red light? If you feel unsafe when queuing at a light, I personally think you shouldn't be on the road in or on any vehicle.

posted by Nick T [613 posts]
6th October 2012 - 6:22

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Nick T wrote:
Do you really, honestly believe this? In what reality is it safer to venture across the path of traffic rather than waiting at a red light? If you feel unsafe when queuing at a light, I personally think you shouldn't be on the road in or on any vehicle.

Did you read the article I linked? Did you not grasp anything from how the design of that junction (which is standard in London) puts cyclists at risk? Did you not understand how a large number of the cyclist deaths last year could have been avoided if only for a redesign in the infrastructure? Do you not grasp what the "Love London, go Dutch" campaign is about? Do you not know thats why there is not a massive uptake in utility cycling that would reduce the number people using cars for journeys under 3 miles?

posted by zanf [380 posts]
6th October 2012 - 11:25

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@zanf Don't forget that Going Dutch also means sharing. If we all saw each other as people not tribes and showed a little more respect, bike lanes would be not needed.

iDavid's picture

posted by iDavid [45 posts]
6th October 2012 - 12:03

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@iDavid: you only have to view my comments in the Daily Mirror/Tony Parsons article to see that I very much dislike the clique that a lot of cyclists & drivers seem to think we are all in, just because we own bikes.

I am a road user but it is very apparent that my main mode of transport is only considered in road planning as an after thought, or at worst, in the cases of Bow roundabout and Kings Cross, there is evidence that TfL told the road planning assessing those junctions to ignore any safety concerns with cyclists and pedestrians as their 'score' was too low and would impede traffic flow.

posted by zanf [380 posts]
6th October 2012 - 18:59

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