Mayor set to be quizzed on cycling underspend

Boris digging up CSNS

The Mayor of London today broke ground on the new North-South cycle superhighway - but with so little cycling provision actually on the ground since Boris was elected on a cycling ticket, London Assembly members want to know what he's going to do about the underspend. As of October 2014, just £29 million of the initial £107 million allocation for improvements junctions and cycling infrastructure this financial year had been spent.

Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the GLA Transport Committee, has put forward a motion to be debated by Assembly Members at Wednesday's plenary meeting. If that motion gets majority support, the Mayor will be asked to publish the revised budget for this financial year; details of the cycling investment allocated to each London Borough in 2014/15* and for 2015/16; and his plans to ensure that in 2015/16 the planned investment in cycling is fully spent. The motion to be debated would also state that Transport for London (TfL) should look to allocate greater funds to London Boroughs who have many cycling schemes that are ready to be delivered.

The motion also notes that TfL underspent its cycling budget in 2012/13 and 2013/14 - an underspend described by TfL's Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy as "frankly an embarrassment".

What's the problem?

London Cycling Campaign shares concerns that the allocated budget has not yet been spent and that many important elements of the Mayor's Vision for Cycling have yet to be delivered. The most recent issue of LCC's members' magazine, London Cyclist, explores what progress has been made towards the Mayor's commitments. We've outlined some of the findings from the issue below.

Progress on the Cycle Superhighways programme

Progress has undoubtedly been slow. While the new North-South and East-West cycle superhighways are welcome, such bold moves haven't been seen across the rest of the superhighways programme:

  • CS1, which will run from the City to Tottenham, is not yet on the ground; it's due for completion by April 2016, but its status as a superhighway has been questioned;
  • CS2, running from Aldgate to Stratford, exists, but is so poor it's being upgraded to provide protected space for cycling along its busy main road route - though despite 95% of respondents to the consultation expressing support for segregation, there will be no protection by Whitechapel Market;
  • CS3, running from Barking to Tower Gateway, is again open but also in need of radical improvements, particularly on Cable Street which doesn’t have the capacity needed. At a number of points the two-way cycle track on one side of the road squeezes the pavement down to the width of a buggy or wheelchair;
  • CS4 is planned to run from London Bridge to Woolwich, via Deptford - but not until September 2018;
  • CS5, which is eventually due to run from Lewisham to Central London, includes the Vauxhall gyratory, which is due for improvement by October 2015 - but it's not due to be extended to Lewisham until after 2016;
  • CS6, which was due to run from Penge to the City has been dumped from the programme. This is also the case for CS12, which was due to run from East Finchley to Angel;
  • CS7, which runs from Merton to the City, is open but in urgent need of upgrades, including at Oval, by March 2016;
  • CS8, which runs from Wandsworth to Westminster, is also in urgent need of improvement. It's due for an upgrade at Queens Circus roundabout, at the corner of Battersea Park, by May 2016, but we’ve expressed serious concerns about this design.
  • CS9, which was due to run from Hyde Park to Hounslow, is to go ahead on the Hounslow and Hammersmith & Fulham sections of the route, but not before May 2016;
  • CS10, which was due to run from Cricklewood to Marble Arch, has been replaced by the East-West cycle superhighway;
  • CS11 is due to run from West Hampstead to Hyde Park Corner and include removal of the notorious Swiss Cottage gyratory (subject to consultation) - but it's not due for completion until December 2016. 

Progress on Quietways

Quietway 1

None of the 'Quietways' - promised in the Mayor's Vision for Cycling as a network of radial and orbital cycle routes throughout London that will follow direct back-street routes, go through parks, along waterways or tree-lined streets - have yet been delivered, though two routes - Quietway 1, from Waterloo to Greenwich, and Quietway 2, from Bloomsbury to Waltham Forest, are due for completion by Spring 2015. Other routes due to be consulted on in 2015 are:

  • Regents Park to Dollis Hill – Nov 2015
  • Elephant and Castel to Crystal Palace – Dec 2015
  • Aldgate to Hainault – Feb 2016
  • Waterloo – Clapham – March 2016
  • Clapham Common to Wimbledon – June 2016.

Find out more about the Quietways.

Progress on the Central London Grid

The Central London Grid is due to be a set of “safe, connected routes across central London”, made up of Quietways and Cycle Superhighways in the City and West End. The routes are being developed by TfL, in partnership with the seven central London boroughs, the City of London, the Greater London Authority, the Canal & River Trust and Royal Parks.

However, TfL's initial planned Grid: 

Central London Grid

 

Looks a bit different from the routes planned for delivery by December 2016:

September 14 Central London Grid

 

Progress on Better Junctions

The Better Junctions scheme is due to redesign 33 junctions that have been identified by Transport for London and the Mayor as particularly dangerous. However, so far work has not yet been completed on any of the junctions, although consultations have taken place on some. LCC believes only 9 of the 33 Better Junctions will be completed by May 2016, the end of the Mayor's term. Find out more about the Better Junctions programme.

Progress on mini-Hollands

Waltham Forest, Enfield and Kingston are each due to receive £30m to make their boroughs as cycle friendly as their Dutch counterparts. However, the boroughs won't receive their cash until the plans have been approved by Transport for London and the Mayor's Cycling Commissioner. Currently, Waltham Forest are making good progress with their plans - and while many local residents expressed concern at the beginning of the trials in Walthamstow Village, 60% of respondents said they were in support by the end. In Enfield, progress is slower, but there’s a huge opportunity for positive change in this borough, where currently just 0.7% of journeys are cycled. Kingston have just issued revised proposals for the busy Portsmouth Road, after concerns were raised that the initial plans weren't good enough. Find out more about the mini-Hollands programme.

In summary

So we hope London Assembly members will vote in favour of the motion to ask the Mayor to publish details about the planned cycling spend for 2015-16, and that the plans will show how the money will be spent to deliver the safe space for cycling London urgently needs - without further delays.

Papers for the plenary meeting on Wednesday 11th March can be found on the GLA website, where you can also watch a live webcast of the meeting. It's anticipated that the motion will be debated at about 12.30pm on Wednesday.

*Details of the cycling funding committed to boroughs for the 2014/2015 financial year has now been supplied to the Transport Committee, though information for the 2015/2016 period has not been made available.