Pedestrian and cycle river crossings

MQT on 2014-10-22
Session date: 
October 22, 2014
Question By: 
Caroline Pidgeon
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Is the proposed Garden Bridge river crossing value for money for taxpayers?


Answer for Pedestrian and cycle river crossings

Answer for Pedestrian and cycle river crossings

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Of course the scheme is superb value, Caroline, and it will lead to an increase in walking with obvious health benefits and help reduce congestion in Central London. It will support the overall growth and development of London, encourage more visitors and help to unite two very important parts of the London economy, the whole Covent Garden area and the South Bank.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  OK. This is the sort of project we have had from you before, such as the cable car and cycle hire, for which you started off saying there would be no cost to the taxpayers and yet ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You do not like either the cable car or cycle hire?


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  ‑‑ have cost millions of pounds.  Will you guarantee that the £30 million transport money that you are putting in is the only money you are going to put into this project and that we will not have to bail out the Garden Bridge if the trust cannot raise the funds?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I do not see any reason why we should be increasing our support for the Garden Bridge.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  £30 million is the only funding you will give, even though at the moment, given it is estimated to cost £175 million, there is over £100 million funding gap for this Garden Bridge?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  The Garden Bridge Trust is very confident it can raise the funds.  If you want to come out against the Garden Bridge, you are welcome to do so, but it is a great scheme.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  OK.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Are you against it?


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Let me carry on my questioning, Mr Mayor.  We know that Temple Tube station will be closed for around six months, possibly longer.  The only green space on the Southbank will be lost, along with many mature trees.  This is my real bugbear with it.  Despite it being ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Stop whinging about everything.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  ‑‑ funded by transport funds, there is not going to be any space for cycling on the bridge and pedestrians will have to meander slowly.  Do you really think this is a good use of £60 million of public money?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, I do.  Yes.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  OK.  Waterloo Bridge is about 200 metres away; Blackfriars is around 300 metres.  Would it not be better to use this money to build a pedestrian and cycling bridge where it is actually needed?  For example, there has been a proposal for some time for a bridge between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf and the cost, we think, would be similar but it really would meet a genuine need to get people over to Canary Wharf.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is a very interesting idea.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Is that something you would consider supporting?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I might well do.  The Garden Bridge has great attractions, it is a wonderful scheme and I am surprised because my impression was that most Members of this Assembly supported the scheme, but if that is not the case, then obviously I register that with interest.  It is a wonderful scheme for London; it is overwhelmingly supported by the public.  It is supported by Mr Biggs [John Biggs AM], which is a great thing, and Mr Biggs has his finger on the pulse sometimes and he is generally pro-bridge, Caroline.  Can I just give you a spot of advice?  Do not go against the Garden Bridge.  It is going to happen; it is going to be beautiful.  You are backing the wrong horse.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Mr Mayor, I have not said I am against it.  I am just raising that there are some very serious concerns.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  What is the point of your pointless questions then?


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  What I am asking is for you to guarantee that transport money will not be pushed into this when it will not allow cyclists, for example, to go across it.  What I am really trying to get your ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It is a garden.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE(AM:  ‑‑ support for, Mr Mayor, if you will allow me to finish questioning, is that Sustrans is planning to launch a new competition to design this bridge, which it has worked on for some time, from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf.  They are calling it the Brunel Bridge.  It would really increase cycling and provide a river crossing where it really is needed and it would potentially help relieve overcrowding on the Jubilee line.  Will you consider supporting this project?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Please tell them to come in as soon as possible and we will have a look at it.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  You will have a look at it?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am always interested in that type of scheme.  I do agree there should be a crossing in that area.  Let us see what they are proposing.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  They are looking at doing a really interesting competition, looking at getting architects on board and coming up with a really creative design.  It would cost a similar amount of money.  Is this the sort of project that you would also consider putting some transport money towards, as you have with the Garden Bridge?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  If it has a good business case and it works.  One of the difficulties is that in that area you have to go very high up.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  It has to have a mechanism to go ‑‑ I know there are issues, but they have developed one in the past.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Is it a sort of curly wurly Fisher-Price thing where you go up ‑‑


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  They are going to go out to design to try to work that out.  They have had designs in the past.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That sounds brilliant.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Is this something ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Perhaps you could have a sort of catapult.  Let us have a look.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  A catapult?  Maybe that can be your submission to the design competition, Mr Mayor.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Have a look.  Bring it.  Let us have a look at it.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  You will agree to meet Sustrans to look at this proposal and to help support it?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  They can come and see Isabel [Dedring, Deputy Mayor for Transport], yes.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Come and see Isabel, not you.  OK, that is great.  Thank you very much.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Brilliant.