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07 December 2011 1:59 PM

16 cyclists dead but Tories refuse to debate road safety

Conservatives on the London Assembly today sparked outrage when they refused to debate a call to improve road safety despite the death of 16 cyclists this year.

Boris Johnson’s allies, who each earn at least £54,000 a year, walked out of a City Hall meeting, meaning a cross-party call for an urgent review of junctions where fatalities have occurred could not be considered.

Jenny Jones, the Green assembly member who proposed the motion, said: “I think they ought to be ashamed. They are playing games with people’s lives. I think the Tories walking out of the cycling motion does show embarrassment at the Mayor’s poor safety record and poor consultation record with cycling groups.”

The demand for action came less than a week after 22-year-old art [CORRECTION: international development] student at London Metropolitan University Eleanor Carey (right) was killed near Tower Bridge and after two other cyclists were killed on one of the Mayor’s “cycle superhighways” at Bow. The three deaths were among the nine this year involving HGVs.Eleanor Carey

Opposition members wanted Mr Johnson and Transport for London to publicly identify the most dangerous junctions and fast-track work to improve safety in the belief that some of the fatalities could have been avoided.

TfL has already promised to ensure all highway maintenance firms working on the capital’s main “red routes” are fitted with blind-spot mirrors and detectors by the end of the year. 

Labour transport spokeswoman Val Shawcross said: “It’s shocking that due to the actions of some Assembly members we couldn’t even debate this issue, let alone vote for a review to take place.”

It is the second time the Tories have prevented a debate being held on cycle safety, having also walked out of a proposed debate on Blackfriars bridge in June.

Andrew Boff, the party’s cycling spokesman, said the walk-out was over a longstanding complaint that the Tories are being unfairly denied the chance to chair assembly committees. The matter flared up today over a row over who should chair a new police committee.

Mr Boff said: “It was nothing to do with cycling. We would have liked to have debated this but we have been left with only one method of indicating to the other groups that what they’re doing is fundamentally unjust.”

In a statement issued within minutes of the walk-out, Tory group leader James Cleverly said: “Once again other parties on the Assembly have chosen to put petty party politics before properly representing the democratic view of Londoners by denying us fair and equitable chairmanship and deputy chairmanship on Assembly committees.”

* You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RossLydall 

Comments

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We walked out on item 6 where once again the other parties decided to deprive the 40% of Londoners who voted for us a voice. The motion by a member on cycling was the very last debate at item 11. It cannot reasonably be argued that the action was about that issue.

That motion amounted to a collection of freedom of information requests concerning only 10 accident spots. This can still be pursued without a motion. We did not refuse to debate - indeed we proposed an amendment which would have read:

This Assembly deeply regrets the deaths of cyclists on London's road network and wishes to express its condolences for the loss felt by their relatives and friends. We are concerned that, despite a falling accident rate amongst cyclists, more should be done to increase the confidence that cyclists have in the road network and calls on the Mayor to:
Publicly engage with cyclists and the London Cycling Campaign on a review of all future major schemes on the TLRN;

Review the design of the major junctions on the Cycle Superhighways and publish the findings;

Ensure that raw accident data is made publicly available;

Prepare and publish a design guide to inform and instruct all future schemes.


Despite the positive nature of this motion and call for Mayor's action, as opposed to just information, Jennie Jones, whose support it would require, rejected this.

We regret that the members of other parties have decided to fix the democratic process so that only they get to chair major committees, unlike the practice in the House of Commons where such committees are chaired by all parties. And, as a reminder, the London Assembly is a scrutiny body with no executive powers.

"we don't get to be in charge today so we're going home." What a bunch of children. Hey who cares if the electorate are being crushed to death by trucks in the street, we don't get to chair all the committees we want and after all that's what's important, right?

"Once again other parties on the Assembly have chosen to put petty party politics before properly representing the democratic view of Londoners... "

Alternatively, one party on the Assembly have chosen to put petty party politics before properly representing the needs of all London cyclists. I don't care where this get discussed - Tory AMs need to get a grip.

Mr Boff - thanks for clarifying the Tory position over the walk-out which I am afraid does nothing to quell the anger I and others feel about the action taken. I care nothing for the in-fighting within the Assembly over party political representation and find it bleakly ironic that the party that was so disaparaging of the public sector strike last week would blithely use the same tactic themselves (twice).

I find it disgusting that you have put party politics ahead of such an urgent and important issue that needs debate followed by swift, positive action. Faced with the intrangidence and indifference of TfL we cannot leave cycle safety in their hands. They appear to bow exclusively before the God of traffic flow and to hang with the consequences for vulnerable road users. The eyes of the world will be on London next summer, and if regular deaths aren't enough to stir action, perhaps acute embarrassment about our antidiluvian approach to road design will embarrass the Mayor and TfL into doing something.

Andrew -

Everyone knows that the London Assembly is flawed in many ways (not least in that even a unanimous or supermajority motion is not binding on the Mayor, as it should be).

Surely, though, issues such as cyclist safety are more important than protesting other members acting according to the (however flawed) rules? I think you don't see how much you lose politically by even giving the impression that internecine quarrels are more important than people's lives.

(Your motion is excellent (particularly the design guide element). I hope you will bring it up again in the very near future. )

@AndrewBoff:

Please could you let us know what "item 6" was (the link on your twitter feed is broken).

And please tell us:
- why a walkout was *required*.
- why the walkout affected items 7-11.
- why remaining in the chamber and voicing your opinions on "item 6" was not an option.
- why remaining in the chamber and refusing to participate in the vote on "item 6" was not an option (i.e. a temporary walkout).

Andrew, I don't think you understand just how insulting this is, not only to the families of those killed on London's roads and those genuine people trying to make a positive change, but also to the ordinary voters who expect you to show leadership on an issue which is at the heart of so many of London's problems.

I know that you understand this, and I acknowledge that you were at Blackfriars, as was I. This is far more important than party politics.

You conservatives (and the ex-BNP member) cannot adopt childish, anti-democratic tactics to protest against the product of a democratic process. I would wish for fewer Tory members, you would wish for more - but it is what is, so show some leadership and please do what we're paying you to do.

Childish and very depressing.

Andrew, you should all stop behaving like children, taking your ball home when the other kiddies don't want to obey your game rules.

Do I thibk it mere coincidence that the two motions you chose to walk out on just happened to relate to cycling? Hell, no. Despite your own enthisiasm for cycling and cycle-commuting, and one or two of your coleagues are also to be commended on this, as a group you are a bunch of neanderthals who can't let go of your "mondeo-man" prejudices and you won't brook entirely justified criticism of your own mayor.

Which, incidentally, in my vioew fully justifies freezing you out of committee chairs - you have the mayor, and the assembly is just a talking shop anyway.

My sense is that walk-out or not, the Mayor is simply ignoring the London Assembly. He ignored the motion on Blackfriars. And he'll ignore this as well. He simply doesn't seem to think that safe roads for people is a vote winner.

http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.com/2011/12/tories-and-former-british-national.html

More of the same from Cleverly, desperate attempts to keep a salary whilst remaining an embarrassment to Bexley and Bromley. As a cyclist he's shafted me and thousands of others and as a user of Queen Mary's hospital in Sidcup he also shafted thousands of voters by pretending to campaign to keep its A&E open and then standing back and watching it shut when he'd got his votes. The rest of the time has spent defending Andy Coulson and sympathising with southeastern railways MD, Charles Horton, despite protestations of constituents. I fail to see the point of this person.

I don't understand why Andrew and colleagues want to make so many enemies of those people who cycle round London. Are we somehow non-voters? Are we -mistakenly- assumed to all be voting green, for Ken or the LDs already, and hence a lost cause. And what about all those people who would cycle if they felt it was safe to do so but know that until TfL cares it wont be safe? Are they all assumed to not be part of the voter base Andrew and team care about?

There may be some underlying party politics going on here, but to twice walk out of votes on cycle safety, the councillors are making themselves look petty and choosing the TfL side.

Interesting to see the request from the Tory group for the publication of design standards. There are plenty of examples of good British design standards such as LTN 2/08 published by the DfT and the London Cycle Design Standards published by TFL. The problems come when these standards or guidelines aren't applied, or are watered down because of pressures relating to traffic capacity for cars/buses/trucks. If only we adhered to our existing road user hierarchy which places pedestrians at the top, then cyclists, buses with cars unsurprisingly at the bottom. What we tend to end up with is an inverted hierarchy, where all we cater for is motorised traffic - stuff everyone else...

@jon

British design standards aren't so wonderful - and tend to fail when you get to junction design.

We should just adopt most of this:

http://www.crow.nl/nl/Publicaties/publicatiedetail?code=REC25

The Dutch have something like 1/4 of the deaths and injury per km cycled we have here. They must be doing something right.

Quote: And, as a reminder, the London Assembly is a scrutiny body with no executive powers.

So what exactly is your point? Because you can force nothing, then you shouldn't bother?

Typical politician: get a proper job, you scrounger.

I'll be honest here, long time Tory voter... but after watching the way things transpired on youtube and reading here I don't think I'll bother again.

This childish flounce does nothing to quell the worries of many Londoners, and many members of the public from outside who must surely be watching this wondering what the hell is going on.

It certainly makes it look as if the Tories don't give a damn about road safety.

>We walked out on item 6 where once again the other parties decided to deprive the 40% of Londoners who voted for us a voice.


Andrew,
your group needs to stop being a bunch of crybabies, if that's the way the cookie crumbles then try to change LA rules or just get on with it and stop being a bunch of timewasters.

40%...oh the irony, given your party's stance on PR.
I realise you supported AV, but we didn't get that either - are we supposed to stop voting ?

There are cyclists dying because of the existing road conditions, and they need to be sorted ASAP.

You guys need to do the job you've been elected to do and stop being so childish - you're an utter disgrace.

Andrew - 40% is a MINORITY.
In any case can we please have the £54k back from each of you since even you admit that you are a toothless quango of scroungers.
I hope you look both ways before you cross the road because for sure no one will be crying at your funeral.

I am simply disgusted with your pathetic and utterly unacceptable behaviour.

This is so sad and depressing. People are striving to get London's roads safer, lobbying, protesting, campaigning. Our elected representatives then treat the whole thing as a game and take their ball and go home, refusing to help end the carnage on the roads. This is a major error, you treat your electorate like crap and they will bite back.

What do you really see when you look in the mirror, you disgusting, shameful and cowardly man.

I hope to God it doesn't happen, but this will not reflect well on either the tories or the BNP if another cyclists gets killed on Boris's lethal roads.

Splash blue paint around and declare dangerous junctions "safe", then block discussions on road safety for cyclists. Twice.

You cretinous, self-interested popinjays, you globulous cretins, WAKE UP!!!!

You can find Andrew's previous thoughts on the Assembly here:

http://twitter.com/#!/AndrewBoff/status/127002472253366272

Mr Boff.

Someone I loved very much was killed on his bike by a lorry in London. I was looking forward very much to the debate today and I don't understand why you bocked it by walking out.

Of course your party's struggles are important to you, but could you not have reached a compromise and made your displeasure clear whilst still doing all you can to represent Londoners?

I'm very sad at the way you have behaved, it seems like an insult to my friend.

@AndrewBoff: This is just unbelievably disturbing. Rather than do the job you've been elected to do and take 16 deaths and hundreds of injuries seriously you decide to play childish party political games to stroke your ego. If you don't like how the chairs got selected by the rules, why don't you set off to change the rules like an adult? In the meantime, how about doing the job you're paid for?


Nevertheless it's good to know where your priorities are.


To pick on your proposed amendment.


- Casualty rate amongst cyclists is rising in London, curiously falling everywhere else in UK.

- Surely you mean more should be done to make roads safer to cyclists of all levels of confidence? Very odd focus otherwise.

- LCC are already engaged, aren't they? What's the difference you're proposing?

- While more information is marginally good, what good will it do if it'll just be ignored like all previous reviews? How will that make any difference?

- Isn't raw accident data already available, at least to some extent? Even if not, it surely is available to TfL who presumable continue downplaying it. What would change?

- Design guides already exist and were presumably used in current schemes already. What would be the difference?


What you are proposing is to maintain status quo. We've already seen where that leads. How many more will need to die before you start taking the issue seriously and act like it?


Now, you say that even if you wanted to actually do something London Assembly is powerless to really do anything. What would you propose we do?

I'm astonished that there is an impression that the unanticipated rescheduling of some motions has any effect at all on the improving safety record for cyclists.

If we thought for one millisecond that the absence of the debate today was going to result in the safety record of London's roads getting worse we simply wouldn't have taken the action we took. Quite frankly, the narrow motion that was presented could do with a period of reflection; the motion as presented just requested information from the Mayor- our group wanted action.

The walkout was about democracy, pure and simple. We do not have a majority on the Assembly, we do not seek a majority of the say in the direction of Assembly business. What we are seeking is that 40% of Londoners are not maliciously cut out of a full role of scrutiny of the Mayor. It's about fairness and representation. To disguise it as anything else is simply wrong.

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