Conservative Assembly Members scupper attempt to boost cycling budget by £41 million

The London Assembly divided on party lines today as all nine Conservative Assembly Members voted against an amendment that would have seen an extra £41 million of the £7 billion Transport for London budget allocated to cycling in 2013-14.

The vote was lost despite Assembly Members receiving over 30,000 emails in support of the amendment from London Cycling Campaign supporters*.

However, despite voting against the reallocation of the 2013-14 TfL budget, the Conservative group said it wouldn't necessarily oppose increases in cycling expenditure in future budgets.

LCC Chief Executive Ashok Sinha said, "We offer our profound thanks to the thousands of Londoners who took the time to write to their Assembly Members calling for a fair deal for cycling in next year's transport budget.

"Extra funds are desperately needed to deliver the Mayor's own Better Junctions programme because there's a real danger that under current funding proposals this programme will fail to make cycling significantly safer or to deliver Boris Johnsons's Love London, Go Dutch promises to the electorate."

The defeated budget amendment called for a reallocation of Transport for London spending to take cycling expenditure up to 2% of the total transport budget, matching the proportion of journeys made by bicycle in London.

The amendment was put forward by Jenny Jones of the Green Party, and supported by the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green groups in the London Assembly.

The amendment would have brought spending on cycling into line with recommendations from the all-party London Assembly Transport Committee published last year, taking total expenditure for 2013-14 to £145 million.

Because of the Conservative opposition, the amendment failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed to amend Mayor Boris Johnson's budget.

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My email in support was replied to by several (non-conservative AMs) before the vote. After the vote Mr Boff replied on behalf of his group and so my AM didn't even bother!

The cycling budget is increasing this year by £34 million to £104 million, an increase of 48.5%. In the context of the economies in other areas of the GLA's responsibilities this is an impressive increase. We were not persuaded, however, of the arguments around hypothecation of the TfL budget but would like to see detailed schemes worked up in advance so that we can budget with confidence in future years.

We would have liked to have interrogate the Mayor on his plans for cycling as we think that they should include a particular prioirity given to working up schemes for modal separation at junctions but we were denied that chance when Jenny Jones of the Green Party, and supported by the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green groups in the London Assembly, decided to curtail our scrutiny of the Mayor.

A third of the GLA Conservatives' Assembly Group are regular cyclists and understand the obstacles facing the record number of Londoners who cycle. We will continue to push TfL for improvements for those who have chosen to cycle.

You're right Andrew. It's a really welcome increase. But from a low base following decades of underinvestment in cycling.

Also, if you had voted for this extra £41m for cycling (arising from a cross-party recommendation) it would have left the rest of the Mayor's budget - e.g. Fire Service and Policing - unchanged. So comparing it to economies to be made elsewhere isn't really relevant. Remember, all that was being asked for, was for cycling to be first in the queue for reallocation of any better-than-anticipated cost savings in the TfL budget.

You also say that you would have liked to see detailed schemes worked up before accepting hypothecation of items within the Mayor's budget. But you did effectively approve the existing hypothecation of £104m for cycling. Did TfL give you detailed schemes for this existing cycling budget? (And did you apply the same criterion before approving the rest of TfL's £7 bn plus expenditure, e.g. in relation to tube, bus, and roads spending etc?) If so, we'd be delighted if you could share that detailed information with us.

Thanks for taking the time to comment and for your commitment to push TfL for improvements for cycling.

This post was edited by Ashok Sinha at 5:12pm 27 February 2013.

It's interesting to hear so many of the Conservative group cycle, but - if anything - this merely demonstrates that many existing cyclists fail to understand why normal people won't cycle in London.

Boris is on record as saying anyone with the "wits" would find Elephant and Castle "perfectly negotiable", which is of course a total fantasy. E&C is one of the most dangerous and intimidating junctions for cycling in Western Europe, and a mayor that doesn't realise this clearly doesn't understand why 98% of people won't get on a bike in London.

Sadly, Andrew, your Conservative group backs this mayor to the hilt, and won't spend money on making the city better. 

I'd be interested to hear how many Assembly Members' children cycle to school? How many of their partners cycle to the shops regularly? I suspect the answer is none - I'd love you to prove me wrong, Andrew, but I won't hold my breath.

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The amendment was put forward by Jenny Jones of the Green Party, and supported by the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green groups in the London Assembly.

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