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Vital to get concrete cycling commitments from London Mayoral candidates, says Gilligan

London Cycling Csar Andrew Gilligan tells cycling has cross-party support in the capital but political leadership is key

London's Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, has told it is vital to get concrete commitments from all the mayoral candidates ahead of May's London elections to ensure the cycling programme carries on next year.

Boris Johnson has served two terms as London Mayor and will not stand again - many believe he will lead the Conservative party. Gilligan says Johnson's political leadership was vital to the cycling programme's success and although cycling has cross-party support in London it is important to keep the pressure on mayoral candidates to ensure they stick to their word after elections.

Although Gilligan was a political appointment by Boris Johnson to oversee implementation of the Mayor's Cycling Vision he says he would stay on as cycling commissioner if London's next mayor asked him to.

TfL unveils junction designed to eliminate left turn danger for cyclists

At the opening of London's first junction to protect cyclists from left turning traffic, Gilligan said: "It's two years and five months since we launched the [Mayor's Cycling] Vision and in that time we have embarked on six major projects: the East-West and North-South Cycle Superhighways, the upgrade of CS2, the CS5 across Vauxhall and then a couple of really big junctions. Nine of the 33 better junctions will be finished by May."

He called London's cycling Vision "the most ambitious scheme of any city in the country and probably the quickest of any major city in Western Europe" and said things "have moved pretty fast for local government" thanks to political leadership.

He said: "The key to cycling improvements is political leadership, because everyone's theoretically in favour of cycling but there's always objections - there were objections to our schemes - and the only thing that makes them happen in the face of those objections is determined political leadership, and that's what you've had from the Mayor, that's what you've had from TfL, and that's why these things are happening."

"We have said: 'look it's time for this to happen, this is what a modern city needs, this is what we have to do to cater for the huge numbers of extra cyclists that there are in London.'

"We can't let the naysayers stop it, so that's basically what we've said and that's why it's happened".

Gilligan praised Waltham Forest Council, in North East London, for leadership on its Mini Holland scheme.

 - Waltham Forest Mini Holland scheme the first to break ground - and it's ahead of schedule

"They had a lot of moaning about [road] closures in Walthamstow Village and actually now people love it, and we're only talking about a year or so on after the trial closures. They're the classic example of a council that has shown political leadership in cycling, and a huge amount can be accomplished in that way."

When asked about mayoral candidates' commitments to cycling Gilligan said some have made the right noises but it's vital to get concrete commitments ahead of May's elections to make sure words become actions.

He said: "Those who have said anything about cycling seemed to have signed up to the basic deal, they're talking about going further than the cycle superhighways, doing more, which I'm very keen on, but it's easy enough to say that. When the objections start coming in the mettle will really be tested to see how committed they are, and I hope they are. 

"I think it's important for cycling groups to keep cycling on the agenda. Don't imagine that you can relax and everything is fine and it's all going to carry on, you need to make sure it does carry on, you need to get concrete commitments from the mayoral candidates, all of them."

Ahead of the 2012 London Mayoral elections the London Cycling Campaign got commitments from all of the Mayoral candidates in its Love London, Go Dutch campaign, whose aims, including upgrading the Cycle Superhighways, improving London's worst junctions and the creation of showcase Mini Hollands have been largely realised.

Gilligan, who has impressed many with his commitment to the cycling programme, said he'd stay in the post if  he were asked.

He said: "If somebody asks me to stay on I would stay on, but we'll see. Mine is a political  appointment and it comes to an end with the current mayor's term but if someone asks me to stay on I would, yes."

"I've had a lot of support from Labour people, like Val Shawcross - there's a lot of good work being done by Labour councils - I don't see this as political in any way."

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bikebot | 8 years ago

Or someone give him a national role.

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