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Transport for London urged to prioritise cyclist and pedestrian safety as £500 million Healthy Streets scheme faces axe

£1.5-billion annual budget shortfall looms for capital if no new government bailout agreed

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been urged to prioritise the safety of vulnerable road users over repairs to infrastructure including bridges and tunnels, with Transport for London (TfL) set to scrap almost £500 million planned spend on active travel as a result of its funding crisis.

According to City Hall, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic almost two years ago, Khan had reduced the deficit he inherited from predecessor Boris Johnson by 71 per cent.

However, plummeting fare revenues as a result of people working from home or choosing other modes of transport to get around the city have hit TfL’s revenues hard, resulting in it relying on bailouts from central government to continue operating.

Its latest funding ends this Friday 4 February and TfL has warned that if no further funding is received, it faces a £1.5 billion annual black hole in its finances by 2024/25, which will make it have to reconsider planned spending including £473 million on ‘Healthy Streets’ schemes, which promote active travel.

It has also warned that planned repairs to infrastructure where contracts have not yet been awarded, such as the A40 Westway flyover in west London and the Rotherhithe Tunnel under the Thames will also have to be shelved, as will work to make junctions safer for cyclists.

Dr Lynne Sloman – founder and director of the consultancy Transport for Quality of Life and chair of the Welsh Government's Roads Review Panel, and who sits on its board – said at a meeting today that there needs to be greater emphasis on ensuring the safety of people travelling in the capital on foot or by bike, rather than prioritising maintenance of bridges and tunnels.

“I’m not sure whether our prioritisation between asset maintenance and keeping our assets in a state of good repair, and some safety interventions, particularly around speed limits and safer junctions, is necessarily quite where it should be,” said Dr Sloman, reports the London Evening Standard.

“People are being affected by road collisions every day in London. We almost don’t give as much weight to the consequences of that, in terms of the impact that it has on people and their families and loved ones, as maybe we should.”

Launched in 2019, the Healthy Streets scheme is billed by TfL as “a borough-level programme to help reduce road danger, encourage safe travel by public transport and increase the number of people walking and cycling across the capital.”

Managed by Sustrans, the initiative aims to reduce motor traffic during the school run and encourage more cycling and walking and greater use of public transport, as well as tackling road danger through acting on concerns over road safety in specific areas.

At its launch, Matt Winfield, Sustrans' London Director, said: "We are very excited to have been chosen by Transport for London to deliver this change programme and to be setting up a team of Healthy Streets Officers to work across all London boroughs. It is a wide-ranging programme that will make our capital a great place to walk and cycle."

He added: "We look forward to working with partners old and new to make this project a success. Our work is based on evidence that we gather from robust academic research in behaviour change, community engagement and listening to residents. We have an extremely strong alliance with Lucy Saunders and Tiffany Lam and are ready to help put Healthy Streets front and centre of communities right across the capital." 

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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mdavidford | 2 years ago

TfL: "We may have to scrap active travel measures and repairs to infrastructure."

Dr. Sloman: "Why don't we do the active travel measures instead of the repairs to infrastructure?"


chrisonabike replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago

Yes - but it often comes out as:
"You can't have new safe crossings, footways and cycle paths because we have to do the maintenance on old infra first".
 - "You have so much maintenance because you keep building road infra for motor vehicles!"
"Yes, we have to keep that safe..."
- "You stole the cycle budget to fill potholes!"

OldRidgeback | 2 years ago

Khan had just about managed to fix a lot of the problems Johnson had saddled TfL with when the pandemic struck. I have to say though, cycling through much of London has improved incredibly in the last couple of years due to the new segregated paths.

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