Mayor pressing TfL on cycling delivery “not too politely.” TfL Transport Commissioner says he is embarrassed and frustrated.

Sir Peter Hendy, London’s Commissioner for Transport, says he is under pressure from Mayor Boris Johnson, using strong language, to deliver cycling infrastructure more quickly. Responding to questions from Darren Johnson (Green party), at the London Assembly Transport Committee meeting, about repeated underspending of Transport for London’s cycling budget Hendy said he was both embarrassed and frustrated.

 “What this underspend represents is, frankly, an embarrassment because you ought to be able to get the stuff out of the door except that we are trying to do more and better stuff than we did before. If all you do is paint lines on the highway, and even that’s not simple , it’s a lot easier."

Questioned by the Transport Committee about the likelihood of another underspend in 2014-15, Sir Peter Hendy said:

“I would hope that we will get a lot closer to spending this money. The Mayor is pressing hard, and not too politely, to get stuff on the ground. So we are trying as hard as we can but you can’t do it until you’ve designed it and you’ve got to go through the consultation process.”

Hendy did state that TfL’s underspend , estimated by the Green party in the London Assembly at £150m over several years,  would be rolled over into future budgets. He promised a larger team of designers to deliver projects ‘faster and cheaper.’ Hendy recognised that ‘ the climate had changed’ following the publication of the Mayor’s Cycling Vision (a direct response to LCC’s Love London Go Dutch campaign) which he described as a ‘very big step forward.’

LCC’s CEO Dr Ashok Sinha said:

“Boris Johnson still has time enough left in this mayoralty to make good the groundbreaking promises he set in his Vision for Cycling, both in terms of the quality and scale of new projects. We take Peter Hendy’s comments as recognition at both City Hall and TfL that there will be huge public dissatisfaction if these promises turn out to be empty.”

You can listen to the full conversation between Sir Peter Hendy and the London Assembly Transport Committee 12 March 2014 here .  The cycling answers start at 2.05.55 and run for 10 minutes.