Mayor's Oral Update (Supplementary) [6]

Session date: 
November 20, 2013
Question By: 
Andrew Boff
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Can I ask you, even though, as you have accepted, the number of fatalities has reduced, that the actual number killed and seriously injured (KSI) has remained stubbornly the same - a little worse, a little better - but it is actually stubbornly the same, and that needs to be addressed.  One of the expectations I think of the public is that safe cycling in London should get safer, not just be capped at the current level.  I would ask you to attend to that and that you be driven by evidence.

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Mayor's Oral Update (Supplementary) [6]

Answer for Mayor's Oral Update (Supplementary) [6]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Yes, but I would ask everybody to be driven by evidence and when the debate concerns cycle fatalities, as it has in the last fortnight, I think it would be a very good thing if the BBC carried loud and clear the information that over the last five years there have been fewer cycle fatalities on London’s roads than there were in the previous five years, in spite of a massive increase in cycling.  Whether that will be broadcast on the news or not I have no idea.  Who would like to bet whether the BBC London News will actually carry that fact?


Andrew Boff (AM):  Mr Mayor, I would appreciate it if you responded to my question rather than Jenny Jones’ intervention, and indeed her intervention proves my comment earlier that actually that kind of behaviour gets in the way of improving cycling safety in London.  Actually the other groups have been relatively positive.  Val Shawcross has been positive; John Biggs has been positive, but we do get this sort of irrational hysteria that we have from Jenny Jones and it is annoying because there are some points that she is making and that is that the KSIs have remained stubbornly at the same level and they need to be attended to.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is absolutely right, Andrew, and that is why I said everything that I have said about investment in the roads, why we are putting a £1 billion programme on transforming our road network, and why we are going to expand our efforts at education.  One thing that I want us to do is to think particularly about new cyclists, cyclists who are a little bit less confident, and see what we can do to help them understand how to use the roads, how to be properly cautious, how to enjoy cycling in London, we are thinking about what we can proactively do as TfL to do that.


I really do want to, just because Len [Duvall, AM] and co were disputing this.  I have the figures again.  I will repeat them.  From 2008 to 2013 - in other words a six-year period - there were 81 fatalities; 2002 to 2007 there were 102 fatalities, or if you cut it another way, if you look at the years 2008 to 2012 there were 68 compared to 82 between 2003 and 2007.  It is very difficult to look at the statistics in any other way.  The number of deaths from cycling on London’s roads has come down and that is an astonishing thing when you consider that the number of cyclists on London’s roads has gone up by 176%, and that is the context I think in which this whole debate needs to be viewed.  That is not an easy point to get across.  I have tried several times to get it across.  I hope very much that every Member of the Assembly will find that it is the first thing that springs to their lips when they are asked to comment on what is happening on the roads in London.


Andrew Boff (AM):  If I can just very quickly pass you two more points.  Can we first of all, again - I want to be evidence-based on anything you do - but I also respect that the public are concerned about accidents, collisions, and the fatalities that have resulted from those on CS2 and I think the public would want to see a review of CS2.  I am not suggesting that you should instantly adopt everything the London Cycling Campaign tells you to adopt; that is not what we are about, but the public would want to see a review and be assured that action is being taken and so we would ask you to take that lobby from the LCC very seriously,  My colleague Dick Tracey [AM] was on there and is supportive of that.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am grateful to you, Andrew, for what you do to support cycling in London and the encouragement that you have given me over the last few years and you have certainly been a very valuable advocate.  You are completely right in what you say.  We need to continue to try to make all our Cycle Superhighways safer.  I think that again, insofar as you are going to have accidents, it is, I am afraid, statistically quite likely that they will be at least in the vicinity of these major superhighways because they tend to attract quite a large proportion of the traffic.  We will certainly look at every incident very carefully to see what implications it may have for the road layout, for how it works, for the effect that the signals have on the cyclists, on the impression they get of their safety or otherwise on a certain stretch of the road.  Of course we are looking at that the whole time.


Andrew Boff (AM):  I am very grateful.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  If we can review CS2 to make it completely perfect that would be what I would want to do, but what we cannot do, and I really hope I will not be accused of blaming the victim if I say this, because I have no intention of doing that, but what we cannot do is provide engineering of every inch of road surface in such a way as to guard against behaviour that is irrational and unexpected.


Andrew Boff (AM):  I take that point, Mr Mayor, and I do not think that is really the basis of the request for the review.  CS2 has raised questions in the past.  Taking aside the fatalities, there have been questions raised about CS2.  I have raised questions many years ago about particular parts of it.  It is not that I am asking you instantly to change it according to how the LCC say you should change it.  I am saying that what we need is a review and can you give an undertaking that there will be a review of CS2?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, we are certainly upgrading CS2, we will certainly been going through doing all the improvements we can possibly make to that Superhighway and indeed others.


Andrew Boff (AM):  So there is an undertaking to give a review of CS2?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It follows from everything I have said this morning, Andrew, that all our Cycle Superhighways are in a process of continuous review, so if that is the assurance you seek then you certainly have it.


Andrew Boff (AM):  That is not the assurance I seek.  I know your reluctance to pick out one Superhighway and say, “We are going to review this one”, because it in some way gives kind of credence to the narrative that in some way it is dangerous, but the public would want some reassurance on that CS2 and I think it is only fair that you can give that concession and say, “We will review CS2”.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  We are reviewing CS2; I do not think there is any point in saying we will review it when we are reviewing it, and we will continue to review all Cycle Superhighways