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Fears for future of London cycling plans after mayoral election

Funding cuts and uncertainty over cycling commissioner role raise concerns

With less than four months to go until the London Mayoral elections, it is unclear whether Boris Johnson’s successor as mayor will have the drive, the support – or indeed the budget – to follow through current plans for cycling infrastructure in the capital.

Concerns have also been raised over whether whoever takes office in May – likely to be either fellow Tory Zac Goldsmith, or Labour’s Sadiq Khan – will continue to have a cycling commissioner, a position created by Mr Johnson when he appointed Andrew Gilligan to it in 2013.

Last week, the website Mayorwatch described that appointment as “one of the wisest decisions” of Johnson’s mayoralty and urged his successor to retain Mr Gilligan in the role.

“Boris’s reputation as ‘the cycling mayor’ means the plaudits and praise for improving cycle safety inevitably head his way,” it said.

“But much of the heavy lifting, such as sitting through public consultation sessions and meetings with local council planners, as well as pouring over the fine detail of TfL’s plans, has been done by Gilligan.

“Those who thought he would ultimately prove to be a mere figurehead for City Hall’s cycling aspirations have been proven wrong.”

The website warned that his departure from the position of cycling commissioner “could prove disastrous.”

It added: “Not everyone within TfL has been fully won over to the need to spend so much public cash supporting an activity which raises no revenue, and with the organisation facing a huge funding cut there’s a risk some will use the change of mayoralty to argue for lower or slower spending on cycling.

“The safety of cyclists is simply too important to gamble with which is why both Sadiq and Zac must commit to keeping Gilligan in post should they win in May,” it added.

Last week Gilligan, who has played a hands-on role in turning the mayor’s vision for cycling in the capital into reality, told the London Assembly’s transport committee that he is preparing a report that will outline further work to be done, reports the news website London SE1.

He said: "The legacy plan I'm producing is going to suggest where new superhighways should be constructed.

"There are some very obvious gaps in the network being constructed at the moment.

"For instance there is a route that goes from Elephant & Castle up St George's Road and then turns right into Lambeth Road to go up Blackfriars Road [via] St George's Circus.

"We have also just finished consulting on a new scheme at Westminster Bridge roundabout and then just north of Westminster Bridge of course is the East-West Superhighway.

"In between that there is about a third of a mile of road – Westminster Bridge Road past the old MI5 building and Lambeth North tube station – which hasn't got any kind of segregation.

"That's a very obvious gap to fill. That will be one of the things I'm suggesting. There are others."

Johnson’s final mayoral budget is currently under consideration at City Hall, and the key findings of a report published yesterday by the London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee are:

the Mayor intends to cut Band D council tax by £19 in 2016-17, meaning his successor will have around £50 million less to spend in their first year

cuts to TfL’s government grant have led to uncertainty about its investment programme

the way the Mayor is investing in affordable housing is changing, which may have consequences for the number of affordable homes built over the 2015 to 2018 programme.

Labour’s John Biggs, who chairs the committee, said: “On 5 May, millions of Londoners will take to the ballot box and send a new Mayor to City Hall – with a mandate to fulfil the spending promises they will make to voters on the campaign trail.

“The current Mayor should leave his successor with sufficient freedom to get on with delivering what they promise.

“His proposal to cut council tax by £19, for example, means there will be around £50 million less to spend on London’s priorities in 2016-17,” he added.

In November Green Party assembly member Jenny Jones, who also leaves City Hall in May, said that the mayor's perseverance in seeing through cycling schemes, often in the face of powerful and vociferous opposition, had won her over to him.

But she told that his successor must carry on improving conditions for cyclists in London.

She said: "Boris Johnson has abandoned his 'blue paint and hope for the best' approach to cycle lanes and is now producing Go Dutch, quality infrastructure.

"It took a lot of campaigning, both inside and outside of City Hall, but to our relief the Mayor has got there in the end.

"The only problem now is that Boris Johnson made such a late start to doing things properly, he will have relatively little of his cycling revolution actually finished by the time he leaves office.

"It will be down to the next Mayor to keep the momentum going and many of us fear that they will lack Boris Johnson’s born-again vigour in taking on the limo-riding critics of safer cycling schemes,” she added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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csgd | 8 years ago
freespirit1 | 8 years ago

12,000 people are dying in London every year from TfLs transport policies


I'm sorry that is 32 people per day.


Can you please prove these figures?


I think you may be over egging the pudding. Please deal in facts that can be substantiated.



Donnachadh McCarthy | 8 years ago
1 like

So here we go again talking down our expectations - 12,000 people are dying in London every year from TfLs transport policies  - London needs to be spending twice what the Dutch are spending if we are to have any chance of catching up within a generation.

I wish would help counter the PR blizzard from Boris that loads of money is being spent on London's cycling infrastructure.

The truth is 0.7% of its income was spent this year on cycling - £82 million.  We need £500 million  by 2020.

Zac and Sadiq have both said very positive things about cycling in reply to the Stop Killing Cyclists 10 by 2020 London Mayoral Safer Cycling Challenge but both declined to name a budget unlike Greens/Lib Dems and Independent.


redhanded | 8 years ago

I've met Gilligan a couple of times on rides to scout-out possible cycle routes.  I found him quite impressive in terms of his knowledge of roads all over London and pragmatism of how to get things done in the mucky world of TfL and the boroughs.

However Boris did actually make committments then brought in Gilligan to provide a focal point to ensure things actually got delivered.

Zac and Sadiq look like they won't make any committments other than woolly words about "encouragement" and the like.

I agree that Zac seems to have either a stupid or naive belief that electric vehicles are the answer... as if they take up less space or injure less than conventional vehicles.

Zac's "perk" comment was ridiculous...does he think he can use driving in bus lanes as an incentive but tell them it will be stopped after a year or so when the place grinds to a halt?


bikebot | 8 years ago

Neither Zac or Sadiq are exactly impressing right now, although Zac seems to be doing a slightly better job at being outright annoying.

Last year Zac of course said "there is an unreasonableness" about cycling campaigners, whilst at the same time speaking up in support of (the ever reasonable) taxi drivers!  He's also been talking about allowing electric cars into bus lanes, "I can't see any reason in the short term as a perk, an incentive to get people to buy electric cars, this shouldn't happen".

Well anyone that cycles in London can see a very obvious reason why it shouldn't happen, large parts of our cycle routes are nothing more than bus lanes.  The inner zones will quickly be filled up with minicab firms who will buy electric vehicles just to use the bus lanes.

Sadiq on the other hand did the typical politican thing of trying to look supportive, but without properly understanding the issues.  He did this by going for a ride with Sustrans and praising the good work they are doing....  Hmmm, that probably didn't go down as well as he expected.


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