Sadiq Khan has promised to conduct a review of ‘floating’ bus stops and assured that he’s committed to reducing danger on cycling lanes, after 164 campaign groups raised safety concerns for visually impaired pedestrians but failed to provide evidence of any incident.
Floating bus stops, where a cycle lane is sandwiched between a bus stop and a pavement, have been introduced in many parts of the country to protect cyclists from being stuck behind a stationary bus or having to pull into moving traffic. However, blind campaigners objected to such infrastructure on Mayor Question Time on Thursday, the Evening Standard reports.
Sadiq Khan confirmed that Transport for London (TfL) was already reviewing the safety of such bus stops. “I’m more than happy to throw at this what we can to make sure these bus stop bypasses are safer than they appear to be,” he said.
The president of National Federation of the Blind UK wrote a letter to the mayor with a petition signed by 164 campaign groups, calling for ‘urgent action’ to protect pedestrians from being hit by cycles, e-bikes or e-scooters.
“Expecting people who cannot see, who cannot move very fast or who are using mobility aids to step on and into a cycle lane with speeding cyclists and people using e-devices is simply not safe,” read the letter.
However, the campaigners admitted that they were unaware of specific incidents of blind people coming to harm — but said the concern about colliding with cyclists was such that many blind people were reluctant to use buses in the first place.
This is the second time this week that floating bus stops have fuelled discussion, after Sunday Telegraph’s divisive rhetoric labelled floating bus stops as ‘death traps’ — while similarly failing to provide any casualty figures in support of that assertion.
Emma Best, a Tory member of the London Assembly reiterated the newspaper’s rhetoric on Thursday as she claimed majority of cyclists refused to stop for pedestrians, citing the safety of pensioners and young children being at risk.
Here's a floating bus stop on the A10 in Hackney. It's been there for years but you won't get obsessive former Hackney Councillors who pretend to care about blind people tweeting about it dozens of times a day because it's not a cycle lane, just a road. pic.twitter.com/Kfn8CnJUKJ
— Hackney Cyclist (@Hackneycyclist) March 20, 2023
She asked the mayor if he would support an “awareness campaign” advising cyclists how to behave around floating bus stops, to which he replied that while TfL’s installation of floating bus stops was “completely consistent” with Department for Transport guidance, all cyclists also need to stop at zebra crossings in accordance with the Highway Code.
He continued: “Clearly, if it is the case that that is not happening, we need to not just raise awareness, we need to try and ensure there is enforcement as well.
“We need to make sure we keep cyclists safe from the risk of pulling out into traffic when a bus is [at] a bus stop, but also that pedestrians, particularly visually impaired ones, aren’t in danger because of cyclists not following the code. It’s really important they feel safe as well.
“What I am willing to do, and what I think we must do, is look into safety concerns raised by not just those who are visually impaired but others to make sure, in the quest to make cyclists safe, we don’t inadvertently, because a minority of cyclists aren’t following the rules, endanger others.”
Floating bus stops have already come under criticism in other cities by visually impaired people, with one campaigner from Glasgow suggesting it makes using the bus “like playing Russian roulette”, and another in Bath calling it “an accident waiting to happen”.
However, Sustrans’ detailed analysis of potential conflict between pedestrians and cyclists at two floating bus stops in Cambridge in 2016 showed that “all interactions” between road users at the location concerned reflected “safe, normal behaviour.”
It also found that 99 per cent of the cyclists who passed through the location did not have any interaction with pedestrians.
The London mayor’s comments of “more needs to be done” come not long after Dame Joan Collins called on him to “do something” about dangerous cyclists before London is “ruined”.
Sadiq Khan said that he is open to working with the government to improve safety and raise awareness among cyclists, but declined a request to stop TfL installing more floating bus stops.
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.