Apologies in advance as this blog post will focus very much on London and the up coming Mayoral elections there. Cycling policy and safety in the capital is a major election issue for the first time with the candidates all eager to win the cyclist vote. The issue has become increasingly politicised over the last few years due to the number of cycling deaths on London’s streets.
The Mayoral Election takes place on May 3 which is a week away on Thursday. There are four main candidates – Boris Johnson (Conservative), Ken Livingstone (Labour), Jenny Jones (Green) and Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrats). We will focus on what these candidates offer cycling in London as they are likely to draw the most votes.
Along with a comprehensive safety review of all major London junctions with cyclists in mind, Ken is promising a trial of a cyclists-only green traffic light phase across junctions. He also a promises a redesign of the Cycle Superhighways with safe junctions, better segregation of these routes and proper maintenance. He said he would listen to cyclists about where secure parking is needed and work with Network Rail and others to provide cycle parking hubs in London.
Jenny Jones’ main proposals include introducing a 20mph limit on all residential London roads and banning lorries from narrow main roads. She also stated that she would invest heavily in cycling infrastructure such as only building new roads and river crossings for public transport, cycling and walking. She would also put a walking and cycling representative on the TfL Board and change TfL’s planning tools so that pedestrians and cyclists were treated as more important than cars.
Importantly for some, Jenny would change the layout of London’s most dangerous junctions by adopting Dutch road design principles for the Cycle Superhighways and the London Cycle Network. This also entails giving cyclists’ and pedestrians’ priority at traffic lights and trixi mirrors on lorries to make cycling safer. Other plans include introducing additional cycle parking.
Much of Boris’ commitments include some of the proposals he put forward under his last mayoral term. This includes a review of 500 key junctions across the capital to specifically examine safety for cyclists. This also includes the building of the 12 Cycle Superhighways of which half are now operational. With regard to HGVs, Boris said he would work with the HGV industry to improve their safety record through review of industry practices and developing awareness of other road users.
There is also a commitment to work with the London Criminal Justice Board to strengthen criminal justice procedures for dealing with cyclist deaths and serious injuries. Boris has also said he would continue to fund the Met’s Cycle Task Force, which tackles road user behaviour by cyclists and promotes safety and security for them.
Mr Paddick would where practicable, separate and protect cyclists from other road users, with traffic calming measures where not practicable. He, like some of the other candidates, would immediately review all major junctions and roundabouts to improve safety. He has also promised greater support for people looking to start cycling including cycle safety training, while promoting the bike hire scheme to groups who don’t use it regularly such as women and younger adults. He like Jenny Jones would also install trixi mirrors at road junctions to help drivers of large vehicles to see cyclists.
Being a former policeman, Mr Paddick has pledged greater enforcement of penalties against those few cyclists who ignore red lights, cycle on pavements and use mobile phones.
Candidates back Going Dutch Campaign
All the four main mayoral candidates have also promised to implement the safer cycling principles based on the London Cycling Campaign’s (LCC) ‘Love London, Go Dutch’ campaign should any of them be elected Mayor on May 3rd.
The three ‘Love London, Go Dutch’ demands to which the candidates have agreed to are:
-Implementing three flagship Love London, Go Dutch developments on major streets and/or locations.
-Make sure all planned developments on the main roads that they control are completed to Go Dutch standards, especially junctions
-Make sure the Cycle Superhighways programme is completed to Love London, Go Dutch standards.
The LCC’s “The Big Ride” event, which was a way for cyclists and the public to show support for the LCC’s “Love London, Go Dutch” campaign, was held in Central London this past Saturday (April 28). The ride was a success with 10,000 riding the route despite constant rain throughout the day.
The major aim of the ride was to show the Mayoral Candidates that there was strong support to make London streets as safe as possible for cyclists. Following the event, the LCC now has over 33,000 signatories to their Love London, Go Dutch’ petition. The petition will be presented to the winning Mayoral candidate.
On Monday (April 30), all the main candidates came together to attend a special The Times/Sustrans cycle safe hustings event in Westminster.
From what we gather, the hustings were well attended with a lively audience giving the candidates a good grilling on their own individual stances on various cycling issues. The accounts from the hustings above and the evidence of posts on Twitter suggest that Boris Johnson didn’t come across well compared to the three other candidates.
Londoners on Bikes
Some cycling activists have got together to try and persuade cyclists to use their vote to back the candidate who will do most for cycling over the next four year term of office.
The group, Londoners on Bikes, has been busily making London cyclists aware of the power of their vote and wider cycling issues in the capital over last few months through leaflet hand outs at events, bike shop visits and tagging of bikes.
Londoners on Bikes hopes to have about 10,000 signed up supporters by the time the Mayoral elections take place on Thursday.
Your vote, you decide
The LCC has already declared support for Jenny Jones and then Ken Livingston for cyclists’ first and second preference votes. Londoners on Bikes have declared support for Jenny Jones as first preference vote, with their second preference vote being Ken Livingstone. Sustrans has commended the position of all the candidates bar Boris Johnson for their policy positions on cycling and walking.
Whoever you choose to vote for, we do hope that issues over cycling in London and cycling safety forms part of your decision making in choosing the new London Mayor.
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