The announcement today (5 December 2016) from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan that £770 million has been secured for cycling over the next five years (to 2022) is very welcome and exciting news! It’s an opportunity for Sutton, but the full potential will only be realised if the borough enhances its credentials on cycling and councillors get onboard.
Mayor secures record investment in cycling in London: “The record investment will help Londoners get about quickly without having to use a car, which will benefit people’s health, improve air quality and encourage the shift towards more healthy and active travel. It will also include substantial benefits for pedestrians with new pedestrian crossings and more pavement space”.
Of course, we anticipated something along these lines when we wrote to all councillors in the borough on 5 May in the open letter Cycling towards 2018, “…whoever wins the mayoral election today, Londoners can expect to see a big expansion in programmes to make our city safer for cycling”. We also, alas, largely anticipated the apathy with which the letter was received.
Of particular interest to outer London borough perhaps, is the statement included within the press release that a new Liveable Neighbourhood programme is to be launched next year. The aim of this programme is to create more attractive, accessible and people-friendly streets, where everybody can enjoy spending time and being physically active. Importantly, all boroughs will be invited to develop proposals to bid for funding Liveable Neighbourhoods in their area.
This could be the turning point for Sutton, the moment when the big money for cycling comes to the borough. If the borough can demonstrate that its councillors and officers are both willing and able to deliver, then the chances of being successful in the bid are likely to be greatly enhanced. In this regard, it is just a pity that eighteen months after the leader of the council said we need ‘action not words’, fifteen months after we said it was time to make the case and rise to the challenges, and a year after the borough’s cycling strategy was approved, there is little evidence yet to suggest that Sutton is either willing or able to deliver on cycling. For a digest of reasons we give for this rather negative view, perhaps a good place to look is the notes from our meetings, or the quarterly newsletters.
It is not just Sutton though. Many other boroughs across London are similarly disposed to a seemingly uninterested stance on cycling. The mayor may have the ambition, but if many of the thirty-two local authorities don’t want to know, how can London ever really become a byword for cycling? It is hoped that the new walking and cycling commissioner, an eagerly awaited appointment, will help bring authorities together and agree what needs to be done. [The appointment of Will Norman as walking and cycling commissioner, was subsequently made on 20 December 2016].
Sutton has an opportunity right now to enhance its credentials on cycling. That opportunity is to lead on a successful delivery of the borough’s first Quietway. It is not going to be easy, and we have outlined the challenging, essential, prerequisites that are required for its success. With today’s announcement, there may be even more riding on it (no pun intended).
Mayor of London press release: Mayor secures record investment in cycling in London (5 December 2016)
Sadiq Khan to spend £770 million on London cycling initiatives (The Guardian | 5 December 2016)
Sadiq Khan announces £770 million cash injection for London cycling infrastructure (Evening Standard | 5 December 2016)
Sadiq Khan to “double” amount spent on cycling in London (road.cc | 5 December 2016)
London to double spend on cycling to 5.5 percent of transport spending (Bike Biz | 5 December 2016)
Mayor reveals where £154m per year will come from, following announcement to double cycling budget (road.cc | 8 December 2016)
5.12.2016; 7.12.2016 (correction to link); 8.12.2017 (additional links); 26.01.2017 (added Will Norman appointment link)