Could one of the biggest barriers to the implementation of the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling be… the Mayor himself?
I ask, because of an extraordinary discussion at the Transport for London Board Meeting on the 5th February, kindly uploaded to Youtube by Tom Kearney.
Here’s what Boris had to say during this discussion of cycling in the capital. (If you wish to listen for yourself, this passage starts at around 7min30).
What we did, for instance, between the Bow roundabout and Stratford – we’ve taken huge amounts of road, because, basically, there isn’t much traffic there. But, on the Embankment, for instance, it might be that some of those lavish-looking drawings just produce too much congestion.
…. I think one of the reasons you’ve got to go for segregation is partly demonstrative. You’ve got to show to potentially timid, new cyclists that a lot of work is being done to try to help them. You’ve got to show the world that cycling is stuff that is going on in a big way in London. But for my money (actually it’s all of our money) the best investment you can make, I think, is just in designating large sections of the road network… as places where you are going to find loads of cyclists. That was the philosophy behind the Cycle Superhighways. I still think it’s the right way to go. I still think, broadly speaking, an integrationist approach is the right way to go. What you want to create is a culture amongst all road users of all classes that cycling is going to take place, in a big way, on this road. And you’re not going to have segregation everywhere… It costs too much, and in my view, speaking as a cyclist, once you get beyond a certain level of proficiency, it is totally pointless. Totally pointless.
For instance, on the stretch between Stratford and Bow, you’ve got this beautiful oxbow lake kind of thing that goes off behind the bus stop – floating bus stops – at colossal expense. I forgot to use it the other day. Y’know, because I was just bombing down the road. And lots of cyclists will take that attitude.
There is so much wrong with this it provokes the question at the start of this post. On the basis of what Boris is saying here it appears that Andrew Gilligan – the Mayor’s Cycling Commissioner – will have to fight against the attitudes of the Mayor himself to implement the policies in the Mayor’s Vision.
Boris explicitly states here that, in his eyes, the purpose of segregation is simply demonstrative. To ‘show’ people that something is being done - even if he doesn’t agree with the policy.
Boris still thinks that the old form of the Superhighways – without any separation at all, and just a blue stripe on the road, ‘is the right way to go’.
Boris thinks that ‘creating a culture’ amongst road users that cycling is ‘going to take place’ on this road is the way forward – an ‘integrationist’ approach.
Boris thinks that segregation is ‘totally pointless’ as an intervention, ‘once you get beyond a certain level of proficiency’.
That is – Boris is apparently only thinking about ‘cyclists’ like himself; not about what the vast majority of Londoners might want. He is not listening to what campaigners are demanding. He is denigrating the very policies that will be required to increase cycling levels in London in any significant way.
These comments are so clueless I had to double-check the date – but yes, they were uttered just a few weeks ago. Shocking.