London Assembly Members call for huge investment in cycling as they urge mayor to Go Dutch

Report from Transport Committee urges doublingin number of cyclists and action on 50 per cent rise in casualties since 2006

by Simon_MacMichael   November 21, 2012  

City Hall London

London Assembly Members have called on Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) to improve facilities for the capital’s cyclists through a massive increase in funding and adoption of Go Dutch principles, as well as setting higher targets for cycling’s modal share in his 2020 Vision due to be published next month. The call to action is contained in a hard-hitting report published today, Gearing up – An investigation into safer cycling in London, which highlights that cycling casualties have risen 50 per cent in London since 2006.

With the perceived danger of cycling cited as the biggest deterrent to would-be cyclists turning to two wheels, perhaps most damningly, the report's authors find that while in cities elsewhere in Europe that have seen increases in the number of riders the casualty rate went down, "in London, rising cycle numbers do not appear to be having the same positive impact."

In other words, the so-called 'safety in numbers' effect, through which the rate of casualties goes down the more cyclists there are is not happening in the British capital.

The investigation was launched last June by the cross-party London Assembly Transport Committee, which comprises 12 of the assembly’s 25 members and has heard evidence from bodies including the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), Sustrans, CTC, British Cycling and the London Borough Cycling Officers' Group.

"We want to see London become a model for cycling best practice in the UK. Cycling in London could be as safe and popular as other European cities if the Mayor and TfL have the vision and energy to lead a properly resourced cycling revolution,” said Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, the committee’s chair.

“The Mayor’s new vision for cycling must create a genuine step-change about the road space given to cycling. With strong political will and investment, 2012 could be the turning point for cycling in London."

The report calls on Mr Johnson to show see through his ‘Cycling Revolution’ – a phrase not heard much in the past 12 months as attention has switched from how to get more people cycling to how to improve the safety of those who already do, following several fatalities this time last year.

Those led to the safety of the city’s cyclists becoming a key electoral issue in the spring, with The Times newspaper’s Cities fit for Cycling campaign elevating the issue to national level and resulting in a House of Commons debate and now a Parliamentary inquiry.

Recent weeks have shown however that lorries in particular remain a threat to cyclists on the streets of the capital, with three riders killed in incidents in which HGVs were involved.

Sofoklis Kostoulas, aged 31, died a week after being struck by a lorry on 29 October in an incident that took place in Bethnal Green at a location first flagged up by LCC two decades ago as presenting unacceptable risks to cyclists.

In mid-October, 66-year-old Hilary Lee died when she was hit by a skip lorry in Barnet, and on Monday the death toll so far during 2012 among London cyclists reached XX when 35-year-old Brian Florey was killed on the A13 in Barking.

The London Assembly report points out that while overall expenditure on cycling in London is at record levels, including on the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, too little has been spent on making the road safer for cyclists.

"In the last four years TfL has spent more money than before on cycling infrastructure and the Mayor has published a Cycle Safety Action Plan.

“However, the majority of this investment has been spent on the Cycle Hire Scheme. TfL’s cycling budget has not been spent on the type of cycling facilities used in leading cycling cities that maximise safety for vulnerable road users.

“Furthermore, the Mayor’s approach to improving cycling safety relies heavily on cycling becoming safer as more people cycle, but this pattern is not necessarily supported by the evidence in London."

The report’s recommendations are, in brief:

1. The mayor’s target of 5 per cent modal share by 2026 to be doubled to 10 per cent, with the 5 per cent figure brought forward to 2020. London must also appoint a cycling commissioner.

2. The ‘Cycling Revolution’ to be built into the mayor and TfL’s new business plan, including £145 million – 2 per cent of TfL’s 2012/13 budget – to be allocated to cycling in 2013/14 and £100 million to fund the ongoing Junction Review.

3. Commitment to “fundamental cycle safety improvements” as part of the Junction Review including “substantial and innovative changes to the space and protection given to cyclists at junctions.”

4. The mayor and TfL to reassess space given to cyclists at junctions in accordance with LCC’s Go Dutch principles.

5. The Department of Transport to amend traffic regulations so that measures to improve cycle safety can be implemented.

6.  The mayor’s Road Safety Action Plan to be revised to improve the safety of cyclists with regard to lorries.

7. Greater enforcement of traffic laws by the Metropolitan Police and improved driver education in relation to cycle awareness.

Inevitably, comparisons are drawn in the report with Amsterdam and Copenhagen – the proposed funding and modal share targets, it’s worth noting, fall way short of the figures in either of those cities – but perhaps more surprisingly with New York where the report highlights how investment in infrastructure has helped reduce the risk of cycling while encouraging more people to take to two wheels.

“We recognise that improving the safety of cyclists presents significant political and financial challenges to the Mayor and TfL,” the committee says in its report.

“Nonetheless, the Mayor must prioritise cycling if it is to become a viable choice for all Londoners.

“London could be safer and a more pleasant place to cycle if the Mayor and TfL took action to reduce the potential for conflict between cyclists and other road users.

“They could do this by building Dutch-style infrastructure, piloting innovative safety solutions, mandating HGV safety training and working with the Metropolitan police to improve enforcement."

However, it cautioned that "this will require political will and it will involve difficult financial decisions.

“TfL will need to set aside more resources for continental-style infrastructure.

“Some space will need to be reallocated away from motor traffic to ensure cyclists are protected on roads and at junctions. But it can be done.

“Apart from anything else, this was demonstrated by the successful reallocation of road space during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Chris Peck, Policy Coordinator at national cyclists’ organisation CTC, said: “The Mayor's 'Cycling Revolution' has stagnated and needs to get radical, but this report makes an excellent set of recommendations to help reboot London's faltering cycling infrastructure plans.

“It's time that the Mayor takes on board this advice and fully commits to making London safe for everyone to cycle."

Ashok Sinha, chief executive of LCC, commented: “We applaud the GLA’s call for the Mayor to keep his Go Dutch election promises, and to show the political leadership necessary to introduce continental standards of best practice for cycling and walking across Greater London."

“It's disappointing that recent proposals for redesigning Lambeth Bridge and Waterloo Roundabout put forward by the Better Junctions review fail to provide the safe and inviting conditions for cycling the Mayor promised,” he added.

While Mr Johnson has hinted that some of the measures urged in the report will become reality – he has made noises about the appointment of a Cycling Tsar, for example, as well as urging the DfT to make it easier to introduce safety features – Assembly Members and cycle campaigners alike will be watching closely to see how far he is prepared to go to meet the report’s recommendations when he publishes his 2020 Vision next month.

8 user comments

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Before the mayoral election in May, Boris signed up to the LCC's 'Love London, Go Dutch' campaign. He has said since that he wants to apply Dutch principles to London's roads yet again and again, nothing is being done: all the latest TfL redesigns of junctions will do nothing but make them worse for pedestrians and cyclists.

Again, the LA are asking for Dutch principles to be applied.

This sham has gone on long enough. Its now time for action.

The gently tactile touchy-feely approach that the LCC, BC, CTC and influential bloggers have taken has to end immediately.

posted by zanf [334 posts]
21st November 2012 - 11:01

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The challenge the elected members face is overcoming the inertia of highways engineers. They have been indoctrinated with a mantra of maximising (motorised) vehicle flows, which is why cycling is so marginalised. It's very difficult for them to adapt to a different way of thinking – centred on viewing cycling as a serious mode of transport and designing the road network to be more hospitable to cycling.

To be fair, there is a huge opportunity for improving cycling conditions on the roads which are the responsibility of the London boroughs (i.e. not controlled directly by TfL) which also needs to be addressed.

posted by Campag_10 [153 posts]
21st November 2012 - 12:17

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Talk of re-allocating road space is very positive. This seems to be some sort of taboo that has been broken.

However, 10% modal share target. 2% of transport budget. Doesn't seem that aligned. And also we'll have some of that spent on things like cycle training and promoting cycling, which aren't to help much at all.

posted by SpamSpamSpam [20 posts]
21st November 2012 - 12:51

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Time to shit or get off the pot Boris.

posted by Chrisc [130 posts]
21st November 2012 - 15:36

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The Dutch still spend about 10% of the transport budget on cycle facilities, or about £25 per person a year¹, but get up to 50% modal share. Money well spent! The more people cycle, the less congestion, so everyone benefits.

We need to get serious to correct decades of neglect -- but we are still spending hundreds of millions on more road projects, as the Prime Minister was boasting just two days ago². See, for example, ...

And what is Parliament doing? Yes, another talking shop, with some professor to produce another report next April³. How about action?

¹,²,³ - the links are being moderated. Posted without as temporary measure.

posted by arowland [58 posts]
21st November 2012 - 18:38

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Disappointing to see the comment above by SpamSpamSpam:

"also we'll have some of that [2%] spent on things like cycle training and promoting cycling, which aren't to help much at all."

What do you think would be the effect on standards of driving (not that great anyway) if people didn't have to have driver training before getting a car licence? A large part of the problem is that while a high proportion of cyclists are also drivers, a lot of drivers don't cycle. What is needed is a change in driver behaviour, and while cycling infrastructure can help, particularly at major junctions, this can't be extended to every road in the country. Licensing cyclists isn't the answer, but linking on-road cycle training to the driving test would have a huge, and hugely beneficial effect. Cycling is like sex. Very few people have received formal practical training, but everyone likes to think that they are good at it. Wink

Utility Cyclist

posted by utility_cyclist [12 posts]
21st November 2012 - 19:15

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UtilityCyclist, I was referring to campaigns where a celeb (prob in a helmet) rides along for a few hundred metres, and we're told that cycling is fun, healthy and good for the environment.

I would love to see a TV campaign explaining primary position, overtaking and filtering to people.

posted by SpamSpamSpam [20 posts]
22nd November 2012 - 10:41

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Ah, I understand now, and fully agree. Slebs attract a lot of attention, but don't always (?) know what they are talking about. I would add that as far as helmets go, it's how you ride, not what you wear, but that would start off the usual helmet comment firestorm. Wink

Utility Cyclist

posted by utility_cyclist [12 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 22:43

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