Mayor Lutfur Rahman has blasted Conservative members of the Greater London Assembly for walking out on a meeting set to discuss a cycling death-spot in Bow. Boris Johnson is to face questioning on the issue tomorrow.
Conservatives Assembly Members of the GLA, along with an independent AM, abandoned a meeting at City Hall, last Wednesday 7 December, leaving it inquorate. As a result of this action, a debate on cycling safety in the wake of recent road deaths had to be cancelled.
Yesterday Mayor Rahman responded angrily to the incident, using his blog to accuse the members of ‘playing games’ with a ‘hugely pressing issue’ and labelling their conduct ‘a disgrace’.
He wrote: “We cannot wait for more people to be killed before we act to ensure safety for our cyclists.
“I was shocked to hear that … the Conservative Group … walked out of the meeting [on cycle safety] and in doing so prevented taking any discussion taking place.
“It’s an issue that transcends any political divide. It is a disgrace that these politicians were content to use this attempt for a serious discussion to launch a party-political stunt. It shows how out of touch they are with the concerns of Londoners”.
Southwark-based news website SE1 reported how this was the latest in a string of walk-outs by Conservatives, in objection to being frozen out of committee seats by an alliance of Labour, Lib Dems and Green parties at the GLA.
The GLA had been due to discuss a motion that called on the Mayor of London and Tfl to identify the ten most dangerous spots for cyclists and every location where a cyclist had died in the past three years.
It also demanded that the transport authority reveal any proposals for the redesign of roads put forward during public consultations – and if they had been rejected, to detail reasons why.
The motion, raised by Assembly Members Jenny Jones (Green) and Val Shawcross (Labour), came following a spate of fatal cycling accidents in the capital. An amendment tabled by the Lib Dems, who were in support, called for action on several black-spots – identifying among others Bow flyover roundabout, at which two cyclists were recently killed.
On the ‘cycle superhighway’ at the roundabout, where the A11 meets the A12, vehicles turn left across a cycle lane. Assembly Member John Biggs (Labour), who represents Tower Hamlets, has called the roundabout “an accident waiting to happen”.
EastLondonLines reported last month how the Mayor of London and Tfl agreed to conduct an urgent safety review of the roundabout, with Biggs claiming that the transport authority had promised to ‘report back within a week on how they intend to improve safety at the junction’.
However when contacted by EastLondonLines, Tfl said that the review was still underway and was likely to take several weeks before its completion.
Further controversy was stoked over cycling arrangements when, at a meeting with the family of killed cyclist Brian Dorling, Boris Johnson admitted he was unaware of a consultant’s report from last year that recommended the installation of safety features at the roundabout aimed to protect cyclists.
The issue will be discussed at tomorrow’s Mayor’s Question Time. Jenny Jones is pencilled in to grill Boris Johnson on why the recommendations for the report were not implemented.
A spokesperson for the London Cycling Campaign told EastLondonLines: “It is on the agenda [for tomorrow’s session] but at the moment it is wait-and-see whether it is discussed. The roundabout needs to be completely redesigned to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, with the possibility of making it separate for cyclists and drivers.”