A journalist last week branded “a liar” by London Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan insists that he was in the right when he claimed large numbers of cyclists were choosing to ride on the road at Vauxhall Bridge, rather than on the new Cycle Superhighway 5.
Theo Usherwood, a journalist with the radio station LBC, said that on returning to the location this morning, more than half of the people he saw on bikes crossing from Vauxhall to Pimlico chose to avoid the new infrastructure, opened in Thursday.
LBC says that the figures prove that Mr Gilligan, appointed London’s Cycling Commissioner by Mayor Boris Johnson in early 2015, was “conclusively wrong.”
On Friday, Mr Gilligan told LBC presenter Nick Ferrari that Mr Usherwood was “a liar” due to his claim that 40 per cent of riders were not using the fully-protected facility which runs 1.4 miles through Vauxhall Cross and over the Thames to Pimlico.
But today, Mr Usherwood said: "Apologies to Mr Gilligan, I got it wrong. By this tally, 60 per cent of cyclists are not using the cycle superhighway - not just 40 per cent."
His observations were made between 0645 and 0715 this morning. He said that 62 people crossed the bridge by bike during that half hour spell, 23 of them on the Cycle Superhighway and the other 39 on the road or on the pavement.
But writing on Politics.co.uk on Friday after the stormy exchange with Mr Ferrari, who repeatedly said cyclists should be expected to use the Cycle Superhighway despite there being no law requiring them to do so, Mr Gilligan said his own observations differed.
“I myself saw Mr Usherwood standing by the superhighway in yesterday’s [Thursday] morning rush hour, when its segregated track across Vauxhall Bridge was being very heavily used by cyclists,” he insisted.
“The overwhelming majority of them were not, as he claims, in the road, but in the track. The others present with me will confirm this.
“Earlier that same week, in the busiest peak hour, I personally counted 750 cyclists using the Vauxhall Bridge track, more than 12 a minute, a figure which appeared in our press release.
“That, by the way, as the press release also stated, is a nearly 30 per cent rise on the figure crossing the bridge before the track opened.
“Why do you think Mr Usherwood made no mention of this, or of his earlier visit to the superhighway?
“Why, I wonder, did he hang around for several hours, until ‘just after lunch,’ and until it had started raining, to begin his count and do his report?
“Could it be because he was trying to make the facts fit a pre-cooked agenda that there are no cyclists using the facility?”
He added: ‘Facts can be so tricky, can't they?”
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.