Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Gilligan's Response

[Andrew Gilligan's response in full]

Dear all,


Thank you very much for the petition. We share all your objectives. We have made an unprecedented financial commitment to cycling - £913 million over ten years, more than three times our previously-proposed level, and more than twice what the Government is spending, over the next few years, on the whole of the rest of the country put together.


Because the standards required in the Mayor’s Cycling Vision are more ambitious than before, and the programme is much larger than before, the programme has had to be extensively redesigned. We have had to enlarge our capacity and recruit extra staff to design the new facilities.


Nor do we own or have powers over the vast majority of the roads and land which we will need to deliver the programme. So we have also had to proceed by agreement with the people who do own them – the 32 London boroughs, Network Rail, the Royal Parks, and others.


Both of these things are enormous and time-consuming tasks. But over the last ten months, significant progress has been made.


Therefore, we agree with your demand to accelerate expenditure on the programme. As we move from a planning, design and consent-gathering phase to a delivery phase, spending will sharply increase. Underspends from the planning phase will not be lost to the programme; they will be carried forward to cover likely overspends in future years.


However, spending money is only the means. Achieving high-quality cycle facilities is the end. We will not spend money for its own sake, or without an agreed high-quality scheme to spend it on, or for the sake of being seen to spend it quickly. That would invite waste and failure. Many of the problems with previous cycling facilities are because they were done too quickly.


We have already published for consultation our proposed map of central London cycle routes, the Central London Grid. By next month, we will have announced the revised Superhighways network, the first Quietway routes, the winners of the mini-Hollands grants and the 33 major junctions to be transformed under the better junctions programme.


We will also give delivery dates, but will stress that these are not entirely within our control. They depend on the boroughs and on how easy a ride the schemes have with local communities. We hope the signatories of this petition will add their voices to win those local debates rather than just to the debate at City Hall, which you have won already.


We understand the impatience some feel at the sometimes grinding processes of negotiation, agreement and consultation with others which we must go through. It is, however, the price of living in a democratic society and of making changes to what are busy and contested spaces. It is usually also, in practice, quicker than trying to bulldoze through change, which risks causing backlash and delay.


On the specific items you mentioned, CS2 will be comprehensively upgraded with segregation or semi-segregation over its full length and five new cycle-segregated junctions. We will start stakeholder engagement this week, publish detailed designs in June and begin work in the second half of this year.


On HGVs, we last week strengthened our proposals to charge lorries which were not fitted with safety equipment to protect cyclists. We now propose to ban such lorries entirely. Subject to statutory consultation, the ban would take effect in the second half of this year.


We are also studying the possibility of banning all lorries in the morning rush hour. We are also studying more targeted time and place-specific restrictions. We are trialling electronic measures, such as proximity sensors and camera systems, to see whether they can overcome drivers’ blind spots. We are strongly lobbying for new EU rules to require redesigned cabs with fewer blind spots.


We have substantially increased enforcement against HGVs. We have found striking levels of non-compliance with existing regulations and can already see that enforcing greater compliance is making a noticeable difference to cyclist safety.


We have also substantially increased enforcement against law-breaking by motorists and cyclists, including Operation Safeway last year. This, too, has made and is making a substantial difference to cyclist safety and will be continued, with similar operations to Safeway.


We are lobbying the Government to require greater cycle awareness and training in the driving (and HGV) tests, but this is not within our power. Over the period of the Business Plan, we will spend £60 million on cycle training, offering it to every London child at some point in their school career and every adult in London who wants it. We are reviewing the cycle training programme to ensure that it is relevant to children’s real needs. We will invest a further £33 million in cycle to school partnerships to create safe cycling routes to schools.


We thank the signatories of this petition again for their commitment to improving cycling.


Mayor's Office, City Hall, London SE1 2AA