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Cyclists quiz Sadiq Khan in online Q&A

Cycling questions featured heavily in Q&A with Labour's Mayoral hopeful following what the London Cycling Campaign calls a "wobble" from both Khan and Goldsmith...

London Mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan faced a raft of cycling questions in an online Q&A this week.

As well as the capital’s housing, homelessness and air quality crises, cycling featured heavily in the hour-long #AskSadiq Q&A live on Twitter, after Khan said last week cycle lanes could be narrower to keep motor traffic moving.

Cycling questions ranged from infrastructure to aggressive driving, to keeping Boris Johnson’s Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, or appointing Labour’s Christian Wolmar to his transport team, should Khan be elected.

Next mayor will have to raise congestion charge – Johnson

Khan responded to a question by ITV’s Ned Boulting, Tour de France commentator and author of three cycling books, on the at times hostile attitudes towards cyclists on London’s roads.

In response, Khan pointed to a recent video interview he did with British Cycling Policy Advisor, Chris Boardman.

Concerns were raised after Khan said last week at a hustings, organised by ITV, “you don’t need [cycle] lanes as wide as we do” and “we have to learn the lessons to make sure cars flow smoother”. However, the London Cycling Campaign points out narrowing cycle lanes would be contrary to the evidence on safety, and smoothing the traffic flow, a strategy adopted by Boris Johnson early in his term as mayor, failed to tackle London’s growing congestion problems.

Khan, 45, who suffers from asthma, describes air quality among his top three priorities for London’s young people. He pledges to plant two million trees in his first term, pedestrianise Oxford Street, and only introduce electric buses to London’s fleet, as part of his strategy to improve London’s air quality.

It is widely believed motor traffic will need to be tackled in order to keep London moving, and tackle air pollution - Boris Johnson said recently the next London Mayor will need to extend congestion charging or smart pricing, while the capital's current Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, said last month the only way to tackle air pollution in the city is to reduce traffic. 

Dangerous levels of air pollution has been a feature of Johnson's mayoral tenure, an issue which shows no signs of going away, with an estimated 10,000 Londoners dying prematurely each year from the effects of poor air quality. 

In order to build a decent cycling network London’s next mayor will need to work with the capital’s 33 boroughs, who are responsible for 95% of the capital’s roads. Human Streets, Boris Johnson’s and Andrew Gilligan’s cycling legacy document, says the mayor's transport authority, Transport for London, should take a leading role with boroughs, after the Quietways programme failed to result in a single complete route in Boris Johnson’s final term.

Some cyclists were left frustrated as requests to clarify his stance on cycling – and provide details on how he will improve cycling conditions for Londoners - went unanswered.

The London Mayoral elections are on May 5, and London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has pointed out only the female Mayoral candidates, Sophie Walker (Women's Equality Party), Sian Berry (Green) and Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) have so far backed their Sign for Cycling campaign, demanding a tripling of protected cycling infrastructure, safer lorries and a Mini Holland in every borough. The LCC is holding a cycling mayoral hustings with the Times, which all seven Mayoral candidates will attend, on 29 April.

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