British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman says he views Conservative London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith "with a degree of suspicion" when it comes to his policies on cycling.
In an interview with Londonist the former world and Olympic champion said cycling has a crucial role to play if the city is not to grind to a halt as its population expands, and while he is keen to meet Goldsmith to hear his plans, they have not yet been able to agree on a date.
“I’m not pro-cycling. I’m pro-common sense," Boardman explained. "There are 10,000 people a month coming to London and the transport system can’t respond.
“Cycling is a tool to do a job. If someone doesn’t like the plans [for infrastructure such as the Cycle Superhighways], they should be forced to come up with a better way of solving the problem. The status quo is not an option.
“TfL isn’t building the cycle highways out of any sense of benevolence. There’s the equivalent of a tube-train load of people arriving each week and not leaving. The only method of keeping everyone moving is by getting them out of motorised vehicles.”
As we reported last week, the publication of Goldsmith's policies on cycling, which focused mainly on cycle hire initiatives, have prompted concerns among campaigners that if elected mayor a month today, initiatives set under way be Boris Johnson such as the Cycle Superhighways will stall.
Goldsmith has said that he will rip up the segregated routes if they were shown not to be working and has also expressed concerns over the consultation processes for CS11 and Enfield's Mini Holland, even though respondents to both were overwhelmingly in favour.
He also claimed at a public meeting in Richmond that he was being "positively hounded" by cycle campaigners on the issue of Cycle Superhighways.
Boardman said he thought the Tory candidate's policies on cycling were "ambiguous" although he won't make a final judgment until he has had a chance to meet him face-to-face, something that is proving tricky to arrange.
“We’ve been trying to get a meeting in the diary for months and he’s finally come back this week with a very specific time and date; 11.30am one week from the election," he revealed.
"As it happens, I can’t make that date so we’re going to try and get them to arrange a different one.”
Talking about Goldsmith's policies, he said: "David Cameron said he wanted cycling in the UK to rival the rest of Europe but this manifesto contains no promises, no actions and no money. Coupled with some other statements he’s made about cycling recently, I view him with a degree of suspicion.”
Boardman has already met with Liberal Democrat candidate Caroline Pidgeon as well as Labour's Sadiq Khan, who according to a poll published yesterday in the Evening Standard leads Goldsmith by eight percentage points in first preference voting intentions, to hear their plans for cycling,
“Caroline’s are a natural fit when it comes to supporting cycling. Sadiq is bullish. He’s pledged to double TfL’s spend on cycling — they’re tangible things that you can measure them against.”
DAsked whether he would rank the candidates in order of who would most benefit London's cyclists, he said: “No, not yet. Not until I’ve heard from them all. And if they don’t answer, then that will be self evident.”