Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones has discovered that contrary to repeated statements by Mayor Boris Johnson that neither he nor his advisors get involved in details of individual cycling schemes, that isn’t in fact the case. In a blog piece published on road.cc today, she welcomes the involvement of Mr Johnson and his staff – but with the proviso that they take heed of expert advice and prioritise safety of vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.
It’s been said that Boris “doesn’t do detail,” and he has categorically insisted in replies to questions put to him by Ms Jones that neither he nor his staff get involved in the minutiae of schemes.
However, a Freedom of Information request by Ms Jones has discovered that both Mr Johnson and his advisors have indeed attended meetings where specific details of cycling schemes are discussed. Some examples are given in her blog piece.
The Mayoral election campaign earlier this year saw a stormy exchange between Mr Johnson and Ken Livingstone in which the Labour candidate repeatedly pressed the mayor about whether or not his former transport adviser, Kulveer Ranger, had said that making sure the traffic kept moving freely at Bow Roundabout was the main priority there at the time the installation of a Cycle Superhighway was being planned.
In October last year, cyclist Brian Dorling was killed by a lorry at Bow Roundabout and a second cyclist, Svitlana Tereschenko, lost her life in a similar incident on another part of the junction shortly afterwards.
In her blog, Ms Jones wonders why the mayor has been so reticent about the involvement of his staff in such schemes, asking if it may be to avoid being associated with “second rate” junction design.
However, she reiterates that she is keen for the mayor and his staff to take a closer interest in the process, provided that the focus is on safety rather than on smoothing traffic flow.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.