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View from the chamber and Assembly: Sadiq must step up action on road safety

PUBLISHED: 10:30 06 September 2018

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On August 20, I joined hundreds of people on bikes to commemorate the lost life of yet another cyclist killed on the roads around Holborn station. We should not have had to be there.

The death of 67-year-old Dr Peter Fisher the previous week was the fourth since 2013 in the complicated network of roads around the junction, and every previous incident has led to calls for change to the layout to make the area – a crucial junction on several commuter routes through London – safer for everyone.

It’s time the delays stopped and the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) along with the hundreds at the vigil called for more action from the mayor and Transport for London on their stalled “better junctions” programme.

The problem is much wider than one deadly junction.

I stood with Sadiq Khan as a fellow candidate for mayor in 2016 and saw him pledge to make London safer for people on bikes and “a byword for cycling”, but we need to see him deliver on his slogans.

We need a city where anyone, aged eight to 80, can get on their bike and travel to where they need to without these dangers – where people wanting to get from A to B don’t tell us “I’m frightened” or “I want to take my kids out but it doesn’t feel safe” when we ask them why they don’t try cycling in our city.

The mayor promised to triple the length of roads with protected bike lanes, but my colleague in the London Assembly, Caroline Russell, has forced him to admit in Mayor’s Questions that he’s only built 10km of properly protected bike lanes, separated from traffic danger, since his election.

That’s just 500 metres per month, and dangerously slow progress. There’s 90 more kilometres to go to meet his target in the final half of his term of office and he will be held accountable if he doesn’t deliver.

LCC has produced a new map that shows that, in the two years since the mayor was elected, only the protected cycling schemes that had started under Boris Johnson’s mayoralty have opened, and no new Transport for London routes have broken ground at all.

In our area, we can see for ourselves the continued dangers at Swiss Cottage junction as CS11 suffers more delays.

Other schemes across London are also long awaited, and we’ve been told to hang on until this autumn for a detailed “Cycling Delivery Plan” from TfL that will – I hope – see Holborn prioritised as part of a revived and urgent better junctions programme.

Investing in safer, cleaner alternatives is the key to clearing our twin crises of traffic jams and air pollution, as well as helping Londoners get around in ways that are healthy – and cheaper than public transport or the expense and trouble of owning a car.

Sadiq Khan needs to step up and look with much more urgency at the traffic-dominated danger spots like Holborn that put so many people off getting on their bikes.

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