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Transport for London accused of “breaking promises” after funding for cycle training cut

Hundreds of cycling instructors in the city face losing their jobs following TfL’s decision to suspend funding ‘until further notice’

Cycling instructors have accused Transport for London of ‘breaking promises’ after it quietly suspended funding for councils to deliver cycle training.

TfL’s decision to immediately and indefinitely cut the funding – a result of the body’s ongoing financial crisis and reliance on short-term government bailouts – may affect the jobs of around 300 cycling instructors, who provide training to children in schools and on holiday courses, as well as to adults.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which represents cycling instructors, revealed that every local authority in London has been informed by TfL that no money will be provided for cycle training “until September at least”. With the funding apparently suspended “until further notice”, there is currently no guarantee that it will return in the autumn.

“So what is likely to happen is the courses and training to happen over July, August and September, they may get cancelled. And no new courses may get booked – and we as instructors will be paying the price,” Suami Rocha, a cycling instructor and secretary of IWGB’s Cycling Instructors’ Branch, told the Islington Tribune.

> Sadiq Khan admits Transport for London funding crunch means it is “extremely difficult” to make Holborn Gyratory safer for cyclists 

Rocha, who claims that cycle instructors are the latest “victim” in a political battle between TfL and the Department for Transport, also told the Evening Standard: “On the hottest day on record, cycling instructors are hearing news that the Mayor of London and TfL are pouring fuel on the fire of climate change by cutting this essential training and green jobs.

“If they were serious about hitting the environmental goals they have laid out, they would be increasing funding for this green alternative, not completely decimating it.”

Islington cycle instructor Rocha expressed his disappointment that a pledge made earlier this year by TfL’s cycling commissioner Will Norman that “cycle training would remain a priority” now appears to have been broken. He also called on control of cycle training funding to pass from TfL to Active Travel England.

“We want to highlight the fact that the government has promised to provide cycle training to every child and adult,” he said.

“TfL is denying Londoners that opportunity and we want to call them out on their broken promise.”

> London cycling instructors protest over slashed training budget 

Last October, the IWBG organised a group ride from Trafalgar Square to City Hall to protest TfL’s decision to half the budget for school cycle training provision for the fourth quarter of 2021.

The union also pointed out at the time that instructors – who have been subject to a pay freeze for 12 years, equivalent to a 30 per cent pay cut – are facing falls in income, as well as sudden job losses and what it describes as unfair cancellation policies.

In a letter co-signed by Haringey Labour Climate Action, Haringey and Enfield COP26 Coalition, Unite Community Enfield, Unite Housing Workers, and Enfield Trade Unionist coalition, the IWGB called on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander to reverse the cut in funding.

It also pointed out that in the Gear Change document published the year before, the government promised that every person in England in need of cycle training would be entitled to receive it.

> Boris Johnson resignation: A blow for active travel? 

Transport for London has said that the latest cuts to cycle training provision in the capital are a direct result of the body’s precarious financial situation.

“Our last funding deal with Government ended on 24 June,” a TfL spokesperson said in a statement. “The short-term extensions that have been agreed since then have come with no further funding and only allow us to run public transport services and meet existing contractual commitments.

“As a result, we have had to pause work in a number of areas until further notice, including borough face-to-face cycle training and other vital work to make London’s streets safer.

“Unfortunately, we will only be able to restart this funding to boroughs when sufficient investment is secured in our negotiations with the Government.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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5 comments

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AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago
2 likes

Maybe one of them can be hired by Ashley Neal to get him taught up to level of a bikeability instructor. I mean if he only does car driving videos because he is trained to be an advanced driving instructor, why not go the whole hog to train as a cycling instructor to do those videos. 

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muhasib | 1 year ago
1 like

Looking into this issue as usual it gets more complicated the more you dig. On the surface its about the uncertain state of TFL's current funding meaning they are reducing where they can in short term cuts. The instructors appear to be employed as freelancers by 'Cycle Confident' who then have a contract with the London Boroughs. With all the flexibility this allows Cycle Confident they are reported to cancel at short term the courses the instructors had been expecting to run; the IWGB appear to be pressing for employment status for the instructors by negotiations with the London Boroughs. Currently if they get to run a course the instructor rates appear to be £18 per hour, £15 per hour in training. Anybody else able to provide more information?

This is what was reported in Enfield last year:

https://www.enfieldindependent.co.uk/news/19481668.enfield-haringey-cycl...

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eburtthebike | 1 year ago
4 likes

The prioritising of the short term over the long term is not a recipe for success, in fact, it's guaranteed to fail.  We need massive investment in active travel now, not in ten years time.  We can't just carry on this endless spiral of building more roads to cope with more cars and watch the planet burn while failing to deliver the alternatives.

One of Boris's failings was to not invest enough into active travel, but I suspect that his successor will just cut it completely, since the only thing either have said about the environment is for "Trust me Truss" to say that she'll cut the green levy on power, thus pulling the rug out from under investment into alternative power production.  Rishi is still ignoring the environment.

Over the past fifty years, each succeeding tory PM has been worse than the last; god help us if the next continues the trend.

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NOtotheEU replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
2 likes
eburtthebike wrote:

. . . . . . watch the planet burn while failing to deliver the alternatives.

Over the past fifty years, each succeeding tory PM has been worse than the last; god help us if the next continues the trend.

Good point, at least Tony Blair only caused the middle east to burn. 😉

If you trust any PM to make your life better you'll be disappointed.

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP replied to NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
0 likes

After brexthick everything is better - especially that 350m a week spent on the nhs. It's made a huge improvement to waiting lists. Fromage and BYOB Johnson were so right. And the EU has collapsed without brexthickland to lead the way. Superb. Just as predicted. 

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