Mayor of London Boris Johnson has declined an opportunity from the Green Party’s Jenny Jones to apologise for a remark he made during the mayoral election campaign earlier this year in which he claimed that two in three cyclists killed or seriously injures in the capital were due to the riders breaking the law. Ms Jones has also written to the mayor asking him to review cycling provision and targets at the Olympic Park, due to reopen next year.
Mr Johnson had retracted that claim regarding casualty statistics in October, but stopped short of issuing an apology. Asked again to do so in a written question from Ms Jones, he ducked the issue by referring her back to his previous answer.
The exchange went as follows:
“It has been several months since you asked Transport for London to 'look at' whether there was any evidence for your statement that two thirds of cycling collisions are the result of cyclists not obeying the rules of the road. What is Transport for London's answer and will you now give a public correction?”
Jenny Jones to Boris Johnson, 19/09/2012
“I asked Transport for London to look into a statistic that I was told about during my election campaign. Its own statistics and research suggest this is not the case in London and I am pleased to be able to set the record straight on this.”
Boris Johnson to Jenny Jones
“In your response to question 2450/2012, you admit that Transport for London's statistics and research completely disprove your previous claim that two thirds of cyclists who have suffered serious injuries were breaching the rules of the road at the time. Will you now apologise for wrongly blaming cyclists who have been killed or injured on London's roads through no fault of their own?”
Jenny Jones to Boris Johnson, 21/11/2012
“Please refer to my response to MQ 2450/2012” [ie the answer given above]
Boris Johnson to Jenny Jones
In a letter to Mr Johnson dated 21 November 2012, Ms Jones has welcomed his comments that he wants to see the Olympic Park, which reopens next year as the Queen Elizabeth Park, become “a haven, a paradise for cycling.”
However, she queried what she sees as an unambitious target within the legacy plan for cycling to achieve 10 per cent modal share of journeys there by 2031, asking why it cannot be achieved as the park is redeveloped, with the first homes there due to be occupied in 2014.
She also pointed out that in neighbouring Hackney, cycling already has 15 per cent modal share for commuting.
“It would be good if you made clear that 10 per cent of all journeys is definitely the immediate target and gave a strong message to the developers and planners that you are hoping for even more in the long run,” she stated.
Ms Jones also outlined three main areas of concern with regard to cycling provision within the park.
Saying that “the Olympic Park can be a hub for cycle traffic in east London,” she outlined that in many areas nearby, there were inadequate links to it, in particular from Stratford on the park’s boundary.
“We understand that TfL are proposing to Go Dutch along Stratford High Street and Gyratory, but that needs to be coupled with links into the Park from the High Street,” she explained, adding, “the more these links are improved the better the return on investment on them.”
Her second area of concern surrounds the width and location of cycle lanes, which she said needed to be wider than TfL’s minimum standard of 1.5 metres due to the expected volume of traffic – 2 metres was her suggerstion as a minimum, “preferably more” – and called for lanes on either sides of roads, rather than a single, two-way lane on one side.
“This creates problems with crossing over to the other side if you want to turn off,” she aid. “It is also difficult for car drivers who have to deal with bikes coming from unexpected directions at every crossroads – as on Torrington Place or Royal College Street.”
She went on: “This goes against the advice of both Transport for London and the Department for Transport guidance. It also carries a higher risk of collision than installing tracks on both sides of the road.”
Ms Jones’s final concern was on underprovision of cycle parking at the Park – citing that there are plans for a 6,000 seat theatre that, according to London Plan guidance for leisure venues would require 300 spaces; instead, 110 are currently scheduled, including for staff working at the venue.
“People won’t be cycling if there is nowhere for people to put their bike at work, or at home, or at one of the amazing venues,” she pointed out.
In conclusion, she said: “One of the big lessons from the Dutch experience is that they planned for cycling growth and anticipated it.
“It is far more expensive and difficult to retrofit cycling infrastructure onto existing buildings and street deigns.
“I would recommend that you discount any advice that these things can be done at a later date.
“The joy of the Queen Elizabeth Park is that you have control and can make decisions based upon what you really thin is good enough.”
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.