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"Shameful" - London Lib Dem leader's verdict as Boris Johnson admits huge cycling underspend

TfL insists money will be carried over - but only £29 million spent in 2014/15, against budget of £82 million

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has admitted that the spending on cycling in the capital during the 2014/15 financial year will, at £29 million, be little more than a third of the £82 million budgeted. 

That latter figure, confirmed last October, was itself a reduction from the original amoun of £109 million as a result of cost savings on the city’s cycle hire scheme and the “re-phasing” of infrastructure projects aimed at making the streets safer for people on bikes, reports the London Evening Standard.

The revelation was contained in a written answer to Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the London Assembly’s Liberal Democrats, who had asked Mr Johnson to confirm how much of the budget was being spent, and condemned the reply as "shameful."

It comes nearly a year after Sir Peter Hendy, commissioner of Transport for London, described similar underspends in previous years as “an embarrassment” as he was being grilled on the issue at City Hall.

Sir Peter said last March in response to a question from Green Party assembly member Darren Johnson, who has regularly criticised underspending on cycling, that TfL was under pressure from the mayor to “get some stuff on the ground.

Responding to the mayor’s confirmation of how much had been spend in the current year, Ms Pidgeon said it was “simply shameful that year after year TfL repeatedly spend just a fraction of their allocated budget on vital improvements to junctions and investing in cycling infrastructure.”

But a spokesman for TfL told the Standard that money not used this year would be rolled over into the budget for the following financial year.

He added that some £160 million of infrastructure is due to be completed this year and next, including the two Cycle Superhighways running through the centre of the capital, and CS1 from Tottenham to the City.

Work on the East-West and North-South routes, given the go-ahead by TfL’s board last month, will start in the next few weeks. The projects were delayed by a lengthy consultation process that was concluded late last year.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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