Cycling towards 2018

Open letter to all Sutton councillors, 5 May 2016:

Cllr. Pathumal Ali (Liberal Democrat, Beddington North)
Cllr. Nick Mattey (Independent (expelled from Liberal Democrat Party, 15 April 2015; joined Green Party, 25 April 2016), Beddington North)
Cllr. Nighat Piracha (Liberal Democrat, Beddington North)
Cllr. Manuel Abellan (Liberal Democrat, Beddington South)
Cllr. Neil Garratt (Conservative, Beddington South)
Cllr. Ed Joyce (Liberal Democrat, Beddington South)
Cllr, David Hicks (Conservative, Belmont)
Cllr. Patrick McManus (Conservative, Belmont)
Cllr. Jane Pascoe (Conservative, Belmont)
Cllr. Hamish Pollock (Liberal Democrat, Carshalton Central)
Cllr. Alan Salter (Liberal Democrat, Carshalton Central)
Cllr. Jill Whitehead (Liberal Democrat, Carshalton Central)
Cllr. Moira Butt (Conservative, Carshalton South and Clockhouse)
Cllr. Tim Crowley (Conservative, Carshalton South and Clockhouse)
Cllr. Amy Haldane (Liberal Democrat, Carshalton South and Clockhouse)
Cllr. Mary Burstow (Liberal Democrat, Cheam)
Cllr. Holly Ramsey (Conservative, Cheam)
Cllr. Graham Whitham (Independent (formerly Conservative, until 20 April 2015), Cheam)
Cllr. Samantha Bourne (Liberal Democrat, Nonsuch)
Cllr. Richard Broadbent (Liberal Democrat, Nonsuch)
Cllr. Daniel Sangster (Liberal Democrat, Nonsuch)
Cllr. Jean Crossby (Liberal Democrat, St Helier)
Cllr. Martin Gonzalez (Liberal Democrat, St Helier)
Cllr. Doug Hunt (Liberal Democrat, St Helier)
Cllr. Adrian Davey (Liberal Democrat, Stonecot)
Cllr. Nick Emmerson (Liberal Democrat, Stonecot)
Cllr. Miguel Javelot (Liberal Democrat, Stonecot)
Cllr. David Bartolucci (Liberal Democrat, Sutton Central)
Cllr. Vincent Galligan (Liberal Democrat, Sutton Central)
Cllr. Ali Mirhashem (Liberal Democrat, Sutton Central)
Cllr. Ruth Dombey (Liberal Democrat, Sutton North)
Cllr. Marlene Heron (Liberal Democrat, Sutton North)
Cllr. Steve Penneck (Liberal Democrat, Sutton North)
Cllr. Richard Clifton (Liberal Democrat, Sutton South)
Cllr. Trish Fivey (Liberal Democrat, Sutton South)
Cllr. Tony Shields (Conservative, Sutton South)
Cllr. Kevin Burke (Liberal Democrat, Sutton West)
Cllr. Wendy Mathys (Liberal Democrat, Sutton West)
Cllr. Simon Wales (Liberal Democrat, Sutton West)
Cllr. Callum Morton (Liberal Democrat, The Wrythe)
Cllr. Nali Patel (Liberal Democrat, The Wrythe)
Cllr. Colin Stears (Liberal Democrat, The Wrythe)
Cllr. Sunita Gordon (Liberal Democrat, Wallington North)
Cllr. Joyce Melican (Liberal Democrat, Wallington North)
Cllr. Marion Radford (Liberal Democrat, Wallington North)
Cllr. Steve Cook (Liberal Democrat, Wallington South)
Cllr. Jayne Melican (Liberal Democrat, Wallington South)
Cllr. Muhammed Sadiq (Liberal Democrat, Wallington South)
Cllr. Margaret Court (Liberal Democrat, Wandle Valley)
Cllr. Jason Reynolds (Liberal Democrat, Wandle Valley)
Cllr. Hanna Zuchowska (Liberal Democrat, Wandle Valley)
Cllr. Arthur Hookway (Liberal Democrat, Worcester Park)
Cllr. Richard Marston (Liberal Democrat, Worcester Park)
Cllr. Paul Wingfield (Liberal Democrat, Worcester Park)


Dear Sutton Councillors,

The future for cycling in Sutton is in your hands, regardless of whoever is elected as Mayor of London today

As we go to the polls today, 5 May 2016, to elect our next Mayor of London and London Assembly Members, we are writing to ask for your full commitment to help make Sutton a truly, cycle-friendly, people-friendly borough.

Speaking at the last hustings of the Mayoral race, on Friday, 29 April (organised by The Times and the London Cycling Campaign), mayoral candidates Sadiq Khan (Labour), Zac Goldsmith (Conservative), Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat), Sophie Walker (Women’s Equality) and Sian Berry (Green) all reaffirmed their commitment to meet LCC’s three point agenda, as part of the Sign for Cycling campaign.

The LCC three-point agenda asked for commitments to:

  • Triple the number of miles of protected cycle lanes on London’s roads, to help people of all ages and abilities access the road network by bike.
  • More ‘mini-Hollands’ to create cycle friendly town centres in every borough
  • An end to lorry danger by upgrading the Safer Lorry Scheme and using planning powers over major construction projects so that only the safest lorries, with ‘Direct Vision’ cabs and minimal ‘blind spots’, are allowed onto London’s streets.

Consequently, whoever wins the mayoral election today, Londoners can expect to see a big expansion in programmes to make our city safer for cycling. Cycling, as transport, is now firmly on the agenda. But whether many more people living and working in our borough will, at some point in the future, feel able to choose to cycle for some of their local journeys is all dependent on your commitment.

What does Sutton need to get many more people cycling? The single most important thing would be a true network of routes that link most residential areas with key destinations – town centres, transport hubs, shops, workplaces etc. And one where these routes are direct, convenient and safe – separating those cycling from those driving on main roads, truly quietening residential roads. This is what many European cities and suburbs are doing – it’s what is shown to massively and rapidly increase “modal share”.

What is happening with cycling in central London right now, with the opening of the East-West and North-South cycle superhighways, is transformational. We have outgoing mayor, Boris Johnson, to thank for that. Along with his Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, Boris is right to be proud of his achievements for starting to bring about a bike-friendly London. In Human Streets, the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling, three years on (GLA, March 2016), Boris writes: “Cities compete these days on quality of life. London can’t afford to stand still in that – our rivals won’t.” And that is key – normalising cycling is not about cyclists, it is about people making choices, it is about quality of life. Roads that are better for bikes are better for people too.

Boris has shown that it takes leadership to successfully implement and deliver transformational programmes. In recommending to his successor that they will need to confront the nay-sayers who inevitably oppose any extension to cycling infrastructure, he has made it quite clear that this is about knowing what you want, and working to implement it. There is no middle way, here. You are either on board for this transformation, or you are not. You either get it, or you don’t. The in-coming mayor will set the policy, and provide the funding. The question really comes down to whether you will be prepared to take the risks, and get on the right side of history?

If we get this right, many more people in Sutton, of all abilities, will feel able to choose to cycle around our borough, wearing ordinary clothes and a smile. In doing so they will take pressure off the road network, they will help with parking issues, reduce the burden on the NHS, ensure the air is cleaner, and help boost the economy of local businesses. Alternatively, we can retain the status-quo and look forward to more congestion, greater difficulty in finding a parking space, increasingly polluted town centres, a general deterioration in our public realm, legacies on health, and on quality of life. In which case, leave cycling to the “cyclists”, wearing lycra, a camera, and a grimace. It’s your call.

If we do this right, not only will this put Sutton on the map, it will fulfil many of your own policy commitments on clean air, congestion, health, and climate change.

Whether it’s Zac or Sadiq who is the new mayor tomorrow, the agenda is set and everyone agrees what needs to be done. It’s the opportunity to really make a difference, but it needs you to get onboard too. All of us at Get Sutton Cycling, representing the London Cycling Campaign in Sutton, want to build on our relationship with the borough’s two cycling champions, Cllr. Manuel Abellan (Liberal Democrat) and Cllr. Neil Garratt (Conservative). We also look forward to working constructively with all councillors, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Independent councillors alike, between now and the May 2018 elections. Together we can make sure that Sutton does not get left behind.


Charles Martin

Sutton borough coordinator, London Cycling Campaign

What happened next?

  • On 6 May 2016 we received an acknowledgment from Cllr. Nick Mattey. Cllr. Mattey said he was happy to help encourage cycling, and would like to see cycle paths linking Beddington with Hackbridge, and Beddington with Mitcham Junction.
  • On 16 May 2016 we received an acknowledgement from Cllr. Manuel Abellan, on behalf of the Liberal Democrat group. Cllr. Abellan mentioned that he would be responding soon with suggested dates for a meeting with Cllr. Whitehead. This relates to our request for a meeting with Cllr. Whitehead, originally made on 22 March, to discuss the cycling strategy and the way forward. For more on this see Notes from our April 2016 meeting.
Posted in Advocacy, Comment

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