LCC & The Times Transport Hustings

Green light for cycling at London’s Transport Hustings: pledges to LCC reaffirmed, funding promised and cycling commissioner to be appointed.

More cycle use will benefit all Londoners by reducing congestion and improving health and air quality – that’s the message from leading Mayoral candidates who both backed LCC’s three point programme for improving cycle use and promised to sustain and increase investment in cycling. 

The full livestream of the event, via The Times' Facebook page is viewable here:

Speaking at the last hustings of the Mayoral race, organised by LCC in conjunction with the Times newspaper,  the leading candidates, Sadiq Khan (Labour)  and Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) both reaffirmed their commitment to meet LCC’s three point agenda, as part of the Sign for Cycling campaign,’ as did Sian Berry (Green) , Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) and Sophie Walker (Women’s Equality). The LCC three-point agenda asked for commitments to : 

 

  • Triple the number of miles of protected cycle lanes on London’s roads, to help people of all ages and abilities access the road network by bike.
  • More ‘mini-Hollands’ to create cycle friendly town centres in every borough
  • An end to lorry danger  by upgrading the Safer Lorry Scheme and using planning powers over major construction projects so that only the safest lorries, with ‘Direct Vision’ cabs and minimal ‘blind spots’, are allowed onto London’s streets.

 

The debate was chaired by Emma Tucker of the Times,  with introductions by Dr Ashok Sinha , CEO of the London Cycling Campaign who said: 

“This could be a historic moment, one at which the argument has shifted from ‘should we adopt?’ a Dutch-style approach to unlocking cycling’s potential ‘how can we do it as quickly as possible?’. Whoever wins the election Londoners can expect to see a big expansion in programmes to make our city safer for cycling. It will be LCC’s top priority to work with the next Mayor to help them keep their promises.”

The debate and candidates’ positions on key issues:

A Cycling Commissioner and TfL

The two leading contenders, along with Caroline Pidgeon and Sian Berry, also promised to appoint a cycling (or cycling and walking) Commissioner in response to a suggestion from Boris Johnson (who himself appointed Andrew Gilligan). Pidgeon  additionally said that TfL’s cycling teams should not be run by “men who like buses“. Peter Whittle (UKIP) said he would  reduce the number of deputy mayors  and Sophie Walker argued for a 50/50 male female TfL board. 

There was some talk, particularly from Pidgeon, on the need for strong leadership and commitment politically to counter opposition. Goldsmith however felt that many large schemes faced opposition because of poor consultation.

London Cycling Campaign

There were repeated references to the work of LCC and its volunteers over the past four years in particular, following the Love London, Go Dutch campaign; which was influential in ensuring the level of high quality cycling infrastructure we’re seeing today. Goldsmith praised LCC for its lobbying effort for improved cycling conditions while Pidgeon credited LCC for the campaign to make the cycle Superhighways more than just blue paint. 

Funding

On funding for cycling Khan said he would increase it from current levels and Goldsmith promised to sustain or increase  it, specifying that he would spend £100m a year. Rival Sian Berry (Green) said  she would allocate 15% of the TfL budget to cycling and walking and Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem ) promised to spend 3% of the TfL budget (the current allocation is less than 1%) .

Khan said he would secure the funds by greater efficiencies at TfL and reduced use of consultants.  

Lorries

Both Khan and Goldsmith committed to accelerating progress on making London lorries safer, by specifying vehicles with much greater ‘direct vision’ (far fewer blind spots) for use in town. Khan said he would use GLA procurement to deliver by 2020, and Goldsmith promised to do it as quickly as possible. Pidgeon and Berry both argued for restricting HGV use during the rush hour to reduce casualties.  All four argued for a reduction in lorry journeys by use of consolidation centres and other strategies. 

Equality 

Sophie Walker (Women’s Equality) said low participation in cycling by women showed that existing infrastructure was inadequate. She commented that women are a key indicator for safe cycling conditions; if it’s safe, you’ll find women using it. In Holland and Demark there was equal participation in cycling. 

Air Quality

Most candidates expressed concern about the air pollution in London and backed the reduction of the number diesel vehicles in the capital with some proposing a rapid switch over to electric buses and taxis. 

Cycling candidates

Whittle admitted to not cycling, but also said he had got rid of his car, describing driving in London as “miserable”. The other candidates all said they cycled, but only Berry and Pidgeon said they commuted by cycling or regularly rode in London. None of the candidates arrived at the hustings by cycling.

Road space

Berry argued for direct roadspace reallocation from private motor vehicles, and made the point that fears of affecting the poor worst if moving away from diesel vehicles were misplaced – as the poorest don’t own cars at all.

20 mph

Nearly all candidates backed a roll-out of 20mph as the default speed limit in London – but Goldsmith wanted this to be locally led, rather than imposed.

Congestion charging

Smarter congestion charging was considered by all candidates to be worthy of consideration – with  a Clean Air Zone (as backed by the LCC) covering to the north and south circular, with charges for time of day and pollution emitted by type of vehicle in the mix. Again, Berry and Pidgeon were particularly strong on their calls for more charges to discourage private motor vehicle use. Pidgeon proposed a higher congestion charge for diesel vehicles, while Berry wanted a rapid and complete phase-out of them.

Vanity projects

Asked by the debate chair for their dream ‘vanity project’:

  • Sian Berry: Walking and cycling bridges in East London instead of more car river crossings. 
  • Peter Whittle: couldn’t think of one –he ‘has no vanity’.
  • Sophie Walker: help disabled people to cycle – defining that as a ‘sanity project’.
  • Zac Goldsmith:  London-wide electric car club.
  • Caroline Pidgeon: Limited edition hire bikes: for example rainbows graphics for pride week – bringing some ‘fun’ back to London.
  • Sadiq Khan:  More cycle bridges.

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