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.
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.”
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