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Cyclists hope to impact mayoral elections

The London Evening Standard: Cyclists hope to impact mayoral elections

16 April 2012

The families of cyclists killed on the capital’s roads are backing a new campaign group that is hoping to have a major impact on the outcome of the mayoral elections.

Londoners on Bikes are aiming to sign-up more than 10,000 people before May 3 and have promised to vote en masse for the candidate with the most cycle-friendly policies.

The group has already enlisted 4,000 Londoners and is now calling on both Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone to raise their game and make improving safety for cyclists a key election pledge. Five cyclists have been killed on the streets of London this year. Sixteen died last year.

Julian Sayarer, the group’s spokesman, said: “We are completely open to working with Boris Johnson, but as things stand he’s falling behind Ken Livingstone in terms of offering a transport system that is genuinely pro-cycling and pro-people.

“A quarter of Londoners say that they would like to cycle and the reason they choose not to is fear. Boris Johnson’s policy of ‘smoothing traffic flow’ is prioritising the car. It has made roads more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.”

Mr Sayarer added that while Mr Johnson is clearly a keen cyclist himself he had “failed to show enough courage” in making “tough decisions” on road layout, but it was not yet clear whether Mr Livingstone would do a better job based on his record from the last time he was in office.

Allister Carey, father of London Metropolitan University student, Ellie, 22, who was killed when her bicycle was crushed by a lorry in Bermondsey last December, said that cyclists need to become an organised political force to rival the motoring lobby.

Mr Carey told the Standard: “Families suffer great trauma when they find out that an accident could have been prevented. We would like to see a legacy of safer roads.

“The Mayor’s policy of getting more people on bikes has been successful, but not enough has been done to amend traffic.

“Clearly the motoring lobby is very powerful and has big business and money behind it. Cyclists are a necessary presence on the streets of London and they need to get a voice. Our fear is that the issue of cycle safety is not being taken seriously enough.”

The family of cycle courier Henry Warwick, 53, who was killed in a collision with an airport coach in Bishopsgate in February have also backed Londoners on Bikers. Mr Warwick’s brother, Edward, said: “More needs to be done to keep cyclists safe in London.”

It comes as the London Cycling Campaign ranked the candidates according to their bike manifestos with Green Jenny Jones first and Mr Livingstone second “considerably ahead” of Mr Johnson and Lib Dem Brian Paddick.

There are policy crossovers with all the mayoral candidates promising reviews of junctions. Mr Johnson focuses on increasing cycle superhighways and improving driving standards while Mr Livingstone proposes a head-start for cyclists at traffic lights and Dutch-style cycle parking hubs. Ms Jones wants to ban lorries from narrow main roads and Mr Paddick proposes to pedestrianise Oxford Street.

LCC is planning a Big Ride on April 28 to call for London’s next mayor to “prioritise cycling as they do in Holland.”