Friday, 21 February 2014

Round two

Dear all,

It is time for round two. It's time to get our heads together and work out where we want to go next. We got the plan we asked for from Andrew Gilligan, and now we need to hold the Cycling Tsar to account. We need to see some real change.

Thank you to those who have already written in and shared your ideas on the blog about Gilligan's response. You've questioned it, criticised it, and denounced it. You've raised more than twelve separate issues that we could focus on to make London a safer place for cyclists. One thing is clear; we need to keep up the heat.

We're working within a movement here. New and long-standing groups are demanding a new deal for cyclists. Together, we're covering all bases. Right now, for our campaign, we need to get focussed. What do you care about most? Is it banning HGVs? Improvements for Cycle Superhighway 2? Demanding more funding for the Mayors Cycling Vision? Or do you want an overhaul of cycling all together? What is the number one issue where you think we could have an impact?

Back in November, we reached a crisis point. We needed to take action, to raise awareness and to bring the issue of cycle safety in London to the agenda. Together with other groups and campaigns, we have done this. Every campaign on this has a different approach, as with all movements.

Our approach was to ask for a plan. We needed something concrete we could campaign on, so we wouldn't keep being fobbed off with endless cycling visions. We did get a plan from Gilligan, but it doesn't take a thorough reading to be clear that we still have a long way to go.

When we're talking about change for London cyclists, we're talking about a vision. We all have different ideas of what it will look like, but we all share the same common thread; a safer capital for our cyclists. One day, London will be a safer city to cycle in. We need to keep it on the agenda, keep our voices raised, and keep up the pressure. Step by step, push by push, we'll get there. It's not rocket science, but it is pedal power.

I'll look forward to reading your responses, and will be in touch soon.

Cycle safe,


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Plan

Dear all,

We just got a response to our petition that asks the Cycling Tzar Andrew Gilligan for both increased expenditure of the cycling fund, and a plan of the changes that London cyclists can expect to see in 2014. The response came from Gilligan himself. I wanted to let you know, and to share it with you in full.

Firstly, this is exciting news. Getting a response out of Gilligan is a result. He could have brushed it off, ignored us, hoping that we'd forget and go away. The fact that he responded shows that we're a force to be reckoned with. Our efforts here, and our collective voices are making a difference. We're making progress.

Better still, Gilligan has agreed to our demands. This is a really positive step on the way to realising the changes that we want to see for cyclists in London. 

Among his comments, Gilligan agrees to our demand to vastly increase expenditure of the cycling fund, and he has outlined his plan for 2014. Let's just pause on that for a second. We just scored a win. Of the five key issues we wanted the plan to cover, Gilligan gave the following response:
  • Cycle Superhighway 2
    Work will begin in the second half of this year

  • HGVs
    Proposal to ban lorries without safety equipment to protect cyclists. Looking into banning HGVs during peak times

  • Training for motorists, including TFL staff
    Lobbying Government for changes to DVLA driving tests

  • Training for cyclists
    Plan to spend £60 million on cycle training, being able to offer cycle training to every London child and every adult in London who wants it

  • Further investment in the cycling fund
    No comment

That's 4 out of 5. It's a brilliant victory. Of course, this is not quite the costed, accurate and time-bound plan that we asked for. This plan is lacking in detail and specific time structures, but it is a start, and it is a commitment. We are starting to get some clarity on the changes cyclists can expect to see this year.

We are now over 37,000 people. That's 37,000 bicycles that can hold the Cycling Commissioner to account. From a crisis moment at the end of 2013 that tipped the everyday experiences of cyclists in to mass mobilisation, we have come a long way. With the Mayoral elections coming up next year, major initiatives launching with the London Cycling Campaign and persistent direct action by Stop Killing Cyclists, we still have everything to play for. 

For now, we've scored a win. But our work is far from over. Already this year, one cyclist in London has tragically died [1], and another London cyclist is struggling with severe head injuries after a collision with a car [2]. We'll need to think about what to do next, where we want to go with this campaign. We'll also need to recruit some more volunteers. I'll be in touch later this week to ask you more specific questions on where we go next, but for now, you can write your immediate thoughts and ideas in the comments box of our blog and join in the discussion.

Before we begin round two, let's enjoy this victory for a little while. Congratulations!

Cycle safe,


[1] Guardian Series, Vigil protest as first cyclist in London dies this year, 
[2] Guardian Series, Cyclist has 'life threatening' injuries after accident, 

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