Conservative London Assembly members shock cyclists by turning backs on junction safety debate

A key London Assembly motion on reducing road danger at junctions, following recent cyclists’ deaths, was dropped on Wednesday 7 December 2011 when Conservatives walked out of a plenary session making the meeting inquorate.

LCC's Mike Cavenett said, "Today's events echo the Blackfriars walkout several months ago, which angered London cyclists so much.

"We're calling for immediate action to implement existing plans to make Bow safe, yet the Mayor of London and Conservative assembly members are conspicuously doing nothing to change this killer junction.

"A review has been promised but there's still no timetable for action."

Please join our campaign to email the Mayor to make Bow safe.

Response from Assembly Members

Liberal Democrat Assembly member Mike Tuffey said:

"Today's childish actions by Conservative Assembly Members have thwarted a key debate on cycle safety taking place.

"Their actions are an insult to every cyclist in London, as well as to the democratic process."

Green Party Assembly member Jenny Jones said: 

“The Tory walkout before we could take the cycling motion was perhaps partly based on embarrassment at the Mayor's poor safety record.

"He has consistently ignored cycling campaigners' advice on how to make junctions safe, leaving cyclists vulnerable to the faster traffic.

"This is playing with people's lives, not delivering good government for London.”

Details of the motion

Labour and Green Party Assembly members proposed the motion, which called on the Mayor to provide a list of locations where cyclists were most at danger and to report on why proposals from stakeholders for improvements had been rejected.

A Liberal Democrat amendment added points about roadside safety mirrors, cycle training and action at key junctions.

The motion can be downloaded as item 11 on this page.

Replies

We walked out on item 6 where once again the other parties decided to deprive the 40% of Londoners who voted for us a voice. The motion by a member on cycling was the very last debate at item 11. It cannot reasonably be argued that the action was about that issue.

That motion amounted to a collection of freedom of information requests concerning only 10 accident spots. This can still be pursued without a motion. We did not refuse to debate - indeed we proposed an amendment which would have read:

This Assembly deeply regrets the deaths of cyclists on London's road network and wishes to express its condolences for the loss felt by their relatives and friends. We are concerned that, despite a falling accident rate amongst cyclists, more should be done to increase the confidence that cyclists have in the road network and calls on the Mayor to:

  • Publicly engage with cyclists and the London Cycling Campaign on a review of all future major schemes on the TLRN;
  • Review the design of the major junctions on the Cycle Superhighways and publish the findings;
  • Ensure that raw accident data is made publicly available;
  • Prepare and publish a design guide to inform and instruct all future schemes.


Despite the positive nature of this motion and call for Mayor's action, as opposed to just information, Jennie Jones, whose support it would require, rejected this.

We regret that the members of other parties have decided to fix the democratic process so that only they get to chair major committees, unlike the practice in the House of Commons where such committees are chaired by all parties. And, as a reminder, the London Assembly is a scrutiny body with no executive powers.

 

London Conservatives getting "on message" about cycle safety?

I don't know why the Conservatives walked out so I guess I'll be e-mailing my Assembly Member again like I did about Blackfriars.  What I do know is that the Mayor was very, very insistent with Jenny Jones about how safe cycling in London is during that video of their exchange at Mayor's questions.  What I also know is that I got this e-mail reply from my local Conservative Councillor [and Borough Cycling Champion] to what I thought was a fairly innocuous question about the potential for working with the PCT on funding 20mph schemes like they are in Liverpool.  Have a read and see what you think:

 

"I am writing on behalf of Richmond Cycling Campaign to ask if there are any comparable discussions going on between the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and the PCT about the public health benefits of 20mph limits?  Are there any plans to do so?"

 

"Thank you for copying me in on this.  Did you know that:

There are already 46 20 mph zones in the borough and large parts of the rest of the borough where there is no record of any accidents at all, ever.  We are the 3rd safest LB out of 33.  Obviously we should be the safest, but that's a work in progress.  Sometimes campaigning to improve safety is counter-productive.  It puts potential new cyclist off.  Is that what you want to do?  Particularly when the fear of accidents is not backed up by statistics.  Don't you think?  Can we please have RCC encouraging people to cycle not putting them off.  It would be better for everyone."

 

Does anyone else think this sounds familiar?  Has anyone else heard anything similar from their conservative councillors?

 

Self-respect obliges me to add my answer:

 

"Hello Councillor,

yes, very helpfully we have a map of cycle collisions recorded in the Borough between 2006 and 2010 so we know exactly where they do and don't happen which is why we're particularly concerned about the 4 clusters identified below.  As a campaigning group we constantly wrestle with the problem of unintentionally discouraging people from cycling but it's our view that people make informed decisions about risk when they know the facts, hence our concern about these four clusters.  I am very happy to publicise the fact we are the 3rd safest Borough in London if you tell me the meaning of "safe" and the statistical source.

 

Do you have a list of the 46 zones in the Borough and do you know how this compares with other Boroughs, say the neighbouring Boroughs of Hounslow and Kingston with whom we share our Assembly Member?  It's been suggested Richmond has the 2nd lowest number of zones in the country, do you know if that's the case?

 

Are you able to answer my original question about talks with the PCT?"

 

Nick TITTLE, Richmond Cycling Campaign

 

This post was edited by Nick Tittle at 02:08pm 08 Dec 2011.

Dear Andrew Boff, I am not surprised that your amendment was rejected as it missed out the key question about why the other proposals were rejected, and significantly changed the wording to deflect away from the fact that some of the deaths and injuries may have been avoidable if the locations had been made safer.

Also I would wish to see an amendment to both which puts some sort of urgency on the plan with timescales. However I do accept your proposals for better consultation and would expect the mayor and TfL to adopt those with immediate effect.

I am more than willing to be on the review panel along with representatives of LCC etc.

Could I also suggest that there should be a plenary session in the near future where questions can be posed to the Mayor and Tfl on the situation with cycle safety and improvements across London.

Ray Whitehouse

This post was edited by raymondox at 03:14pm 08 Dec 2011.

Well Mr Boff, the family of the latest victim certainly isn't satisfied with your explanation, nor are our members, nor many of the thousands of other cyclists in London who put up with London's woefully inadequate road conditions every day.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16092572

People are put off cycling by poor road design, not because of safety advice by cycling groups. The number of accidents among cyclists is artificially low because only the fittest and most able people currently cycle in London. A more useful statistic is 'what proportion of people who would like to cycle are put off by perceived danger and poor cycling conditions on the roads?'

I think that given an informed choice between the status quo (with congestion, danger and ill-health due to physical inactivity and pollution) or Dutch-style infrastructure (on which most people feel safe enough to cycle, quick and convenient journeys, less pollution, a generally fitter and happier population) virtually all sensible people would prefer the latter.

  • By nigel at 09:26am 10 Dec 2011

I just wanted to say this one fact..inside the Olympic zone there is all types of health and saftey notices around for HGV drivers becuase there are people around working and walking etc which is great for them and they feel safe and there reduced speed limits everywhere but as soon so as  these drivers leave the zone they are driving at normal speed where there are even more people around kids cyclist everything ,if they want to keep HGV lories on the streets reduce there speeds to 20 mph

I repeat what will happen if there's another death at Bow roundabout??..this is so shamefull it's becoming criminal negligents

nigel king.

This debate pains me more than I can express in words.

In 1996 my sister was killed when she knocked off her bike by a Skip Truck and crushed under its wheels in Harlesden. 

Since then I have seen very little done by politicians to achieve the kind of safety the public deserve, just more lives needlessly lost or destroyed when trying to deal with such tragedies.

I am sorry, but painting a bloody blue line in the road, where cars and other vehicles park, and is shared by other motorists, is just not good enough!

It is money wasted, when existing routes could be made safer. One such example is the Wandle river path being extended to run closer to King George's Park so cyclists can avoid the very busy and congested Garratt Lane near Earlsfield Station.  A scheme I understand has been approved some time ago, but shows no sign of ever being completed. Why?

Why also has it taken so long for the authorities to force HGV drivers to adopt simple safety measures?

And why is it down to orgainisations such as the LCC, and families who have lost loved ones, to campaign for proper safety controls when we pay significant taxes for government departments to manage our safety on transport routes?

What are they doing? 

It's more than 15 years since my sister lost her life, yet only now Boris, who has been instrumental in encouraging more cyclists onto the roads, is to carry out a "probe". A PROBE?

It doesn't take a rocket science to understand what safety measures need to be introduced. The stats on accidents and deaths have been well publicised, and there are many countries in Europe, the Netherlands being one of the best, to learn from and adopt best practice.

So Boris, instead of pilng more cash into cycle hire schemes, listen and put proper safety measures in place.

Don't waste money on blue lines that traffic can park or drive in. These routes have seen deaths and accidents and are not the answer.

Sort out the HGV debacle which continues to kill and cause life changing injuries to people.

Employ an expert who has built this kind of infrustructure before.

Make sure your fellow politicians listen to organisations such as the LCC, and not leave the room in the middle of an important debate on a subject that can saves lives.

It's election year next year. Be warned!

 

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