Tuesday, October 16News For London

Sadiq Khan wants to overcome Boris Johnson’s efforts by announcing a £770m cycling fund

The Mayor of London announced a ‘record investment’ in cycling initiatives. He promised £770m to be spent over the next five years.

On Monday morning, Sadiq Khan presented an ambitious plan to increase cyclist numbers. The announcement came after his administration was criticized for not being as strong in committing to new bike routes as his predecessor Boris Johnson.

Photo by Tejvan Peetinger (flickr)
Cyclists in London. Photo by Tejvan Peetinger (flickr)

The fund is part of Transport for London’s draft business plan, and will involve spending £154 million a year for infrastructure and promoting cycling. This is £4 million less than the £158 million spent last year by Boris Johnson. However, Mr. Khan’s cycling schemes promises double the amount of money spent by the former Mayor over his second four-year term, which was £302 million.

Two new Cycle Superhighways to separate riders from motor traffic are included in the proposal. The first Superhighway was built under Boris Johnson and has been widely approved.

Photo by Andrew Reid Wildman (flickr)
Boris Johnson biking. Photo by Andrew Reid Wildman (flickr)

Andrew Gilligan, who was Boris’s cycling aide, said: “£154m is less than we spent last year. But even this level of spending will not be achieved unless the Mayor actually starts building something. So far, most movement has been in the other direction, with shovel-ready schemes delayed or cancelled.”  Gilligan added that “the promise to consult on two cycle superhighway routes is welcome, though neither will reach central London and I note there is no commitment that they will be segregated.”

Despite scepticism from Mr. Johnson’s supporters, the cycling community reacted positively to the Mayor’s announcement. Ashok Sinha from London Cycling Campaign said: “This unprecedented investment in cycling shows the Mayor is serious about meeting his promises to triple the extent of London’s protected cycle lanes, fix the most dangerous junctions and enable boroughs to implement major walking and cycling schemes.”

The £770 million represents 5.5 per cent of TfL’s budget, increasing the proportion of the budget spent on cycling, which previously was 2.4 per cent.

TfL will be spending twice as much on cycling over the next five years compared to the previous Mayor” Sadiq said on Monday.

Bycicle by Regent's Canal. ©Carolina Hidalgo.
Bicycle by the Regent’s Canal. ©Carolina Hidalgo.

The proposed spending of £17 per person per year competes with the levels seen in leading cycling nations such as the Netherlands and Denmark.