On May 5th Londoners will vote to decide their next mayor. Polls suggest that the most important issue for voters is housing, but the issue that is arguably of most direct relevance to Londoner’s day to day lives is transport.
Whilst the candidates will be in broad agreement that London needs more affordable housing, even if they differ on how to achieve it, how to ease the strain on the capital’s creaking transport infrastructure is a much more divisive topic. No more so than when it comes to the role played by cycling. When asked which is the more fractious debate, the EU or cycling, current mayor Boris Johnson replied: “Oh God, cycling. Unquestionably.”
Before considering the views of the various candidates to succeed Boris, it’s worth reflecting that the polarisation of the debate around cycling tends to work against those campaigning for better provision. We need to shift the debate away from cyclists v non-cyclists and make the case that investment in cycling benefits London as a whole by easing pressure on other modes of transport and freeing up space on the roads. It will also play a part in improving the air pollution that claims the lives of nearly 10,000 Londoners each year.
London Cycling Campaign has an excellent summary of where the main candidates stand on the issue.
All are in agreement that some good work has been done over the past mayoral term, and that more can be done to build upon this, in particular with the creation of more segregated bike lanes. Although the Conservatives’ Zac Goldsmith has also suggested he could remove cycle lanes if they weren’t proven to be effective.
All back the expansion of 20mph zones, with the Green Party’s Sian Berry going furthest by proposing a 20mph limit “across London”.
A rush hour ban on HGV’s in central London is proposed by the Greens, and also by Goldsmith as long as it doesn’t create “additional risks” at other times. Caroline Pidgeon for the Liberal Democrats promises to trial this same idea.
Labour’s Sadiq Khan has pledged to increase investment in cycling, as have Pidgeon and Berry, whilst Goldsmith has committed only to protecting current budgets.
Leading by example
Judging on past performance, Caroline Pidgeon has the most impressive pro-cycling credentials having been an outspoken advocate for cycling as a London Assembly Member, and the 2015 winner of LCC’s cycling champion of the year.
Sian Berry has in her own words “worked on green transport for over a decade and backed many LCC campaigns”.
Ask an Olympic champion
In his capacity as policy advisor to British cycling, Chris Boardman has been taking a keen interest in the mayoral contest. He provides a summary of his views in this interview with the Londonist, and you can view his interviews with Pidgeon and Khan on the British Cycling YouTube channel.
For more information on the election you can go to the London Elects website.
Full list of candidates
• BERRY, Sian Rebecca – Green Party
• FURNESS, David – British National Party
• GALLOWAY, George – Respect (George Galloway)
• GOLDING, Paul – Britain First – Putting British people first
• GOLDSMITH, Zac – The Conservative Party Candidate
• HARRIS, Lee Eli – Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol
• KHAN, Sadiq Aman – Labour Party
• LOVE, Ankit – One Love Party
• PIDGEON, Caroline Valerie – London Liberal Democrats
• WALKER, Sophie – Women’s Equality Party
• WHITTLE, Peter Robin – UK Independence Party (UKIP)
• ZYLINSKI, Prince – Independent