Mayor's Oral Update

MQT on 2013-11-20
Session date: 
November 20, 2013
Question By: 
Darren Johnson
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor



Answer for Mayor's Oral Update

Answer for Mayor's Oral Update

Answered By: 
The Mayor

There are all sorts of things been happening since we last met and I would single out a plan we have announced to use waste heat from the Tube to heat 500 homes in Islington.  We have launched a food-save scheme to help businesses maximise their profits by diverting food away from landfill obviously towards useful purposes, consumption apart from anything else.  We have a cleaner air website to help drive down pollution in London’s atmosphere, which, as the Assembly will recall, has over the last five years improved considerably with NOx down 20% and particulates PM10 and PM2.5, both down 15%.


We are on track to deliver 100 pocket parks across London and we announced - I think just the other day - another 33 projects across 17 London boroughs.  The new London Crime Prevention Fund is trying to cut down on re-offending, particularly among drug users, and there is a big project we have just launched in Bexley to do that, much crime is drug-related and if you can help them off drugs you can help them to stop re-offending.


We have a project we launched on 7 November to use food waste to run buses in the Barking area, all the buses that run from the Barking depot will now run with a blend of 20% regular diesel and 80% biodiesel or chip fat basically, chip fat in the buses, about time we did it.  One of the difficulties is we do not have a refinery nearby in London to produce the biodiesel and we are trying to get that market going, currently they are up in the north of the country or in Scotland.


We have also launched a London Schools Atlas on the web, an interactive function, so that kids can learn more about the history of our city.


All Groups have asked for an oral update on cycling fatalities and I am going to go through that quickly if I may because I know everybody will want to come back with questions.  The first point is the one I have made many times over the last few days, which obviously is that one death is one too many and obviously our thoughts are with the victims, with their families and those who love them and care for them.  It is also important to stress, and this is a difficult point to make when people are mourning, but this is very important to stress, that the spate of fatalities that we have seen in the last couple of weeks must be seen in the context of an overall decline in fatalities.  I was challenged on the radio yesterday by a guy from a cycling group who said that the number of fatalities since I have been Mayor over the last six years was about 80, it is actually 81 from 2008 to 2013, but if you look at the previous six years it was 102 and if you look at the five years, for instance, between 2008 to 2012 in my Mayoralty, there were 68 cycling fatalities on the roads in London, the figure between 2003 and 2007 was 82.  Whichever way you cut it, you are looking at a reduction in the number of fatalities over identical periods of time.


You are also looking at a very considerable increase in the volume of cycling and that is the key point that I think people also sometimes forget.  I know that is a hard point to make in this context, I know that people do not always listen to it, and it is difficult to expect that point to be broadcast in these circumstances, but I do think it is important to make, statistically it is getting safer to cycle, your journey is less likely to end in a fatality, but it is very important to continue to work to make cycling ever safer.  There is a huge amount of work that we are engaged on at all sorts of levels.


Obviously, when you look at what is happening on the roads, you have to look at the role of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) -- and you have to pursue the scheme that we have at the moment, for instance, to make sure that all HGVs entering London are properly equipped with the safety features that we would want to see.  We are consulting on that now, we want to create a safer lorry zone in London.  I am sure the Assembly is fully aware --


We are also of course investing massively in cycling infrastructure and the third point I would like to make obviously is that it is absolutely vital that all road users respect the rules of the road as far as they can and just to repeat the key and salient data, which is I think getting slightly lost; although we bitterly regret the recent spate of fatalities, it is vital to stress that overall the number of deaths we are seeing on London’s roads from cycling is coming down.