THE BLOG
20/11/2013 15:27 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

When the Mayor Gets Blamed, Boris Gets Personal

Over the past week the mayor has responded to criticism of his cycling policies by suggesting cyclists are making rash decisions on the roads and by repeating a unfounded claim he made to me in October 2011 that wearing headphones whilst cycling or walking could be blamed for an increase in the numbers injured in London.

Today at City Hall the November session of Mayor's question time was dominated by cycling safety in London. Six cyclists have died on the capital's streets since London Assembly members gathered to question Boris Johnson last month. In response to my question asking Boris to apologise to the relatives of the cyclists who have died and the others who have been seriously injured as a result of his flawed and dangerous policies, Boris Johnson said:

"I think it is very striking that you sat in this [London] assembly for the eight years, when cycle fatalities where running at a much higher rate, I don't believe you said anything then. I think you should apologise to Londoner's for your inertia, your silence and your refusal to stand up for cyclists."

It is typical of the mayor to try to deflect criticisms of his policies by either attacking the person making them, or to focus the blame on the implied behaviour of the victims of his policies. Over the past week the mayor has responded to criticism of his cycling policies by suggesting cyclists are making rash decisions on the roads and by repeating a unfounded claim he made to me in October 2011 that wearing headphones whilst cycling or walking could be blamed for an increase in the numbers injured in London.

Today I challenged the Mayor with official Transport for London figures showing that in 2008 the killed or seriously injured (KSI) rate for cyclists was one per 400,000 cycling trips, whilst in 2011 this figure had come down to one in every 364,000 trips meaning that less trips are now being completed successfully without a cyclist being killed on London's roads.

In response the mayor outrageously labelled me a false friend to cyclists in London and accused me of scaremongering. I would like to set the record straight.

• Under the previous mayor Ken Livingstone, I was the mayor's road safety ambassador (2001 - 2008) and during this time road casualties fell faster in London than any other region.

• By 2008, the number of fatal and serious casualties on London's roads was 47% lower when compared to the 1994-1998 average (prior to my appointment). - table 1a, page 8.

• I organised a road safety seminar with the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London in 2005, in May this year hosted 'Cyclists and the Law' and will shortly be publishing my second report looking at road safety and lawless roads. Cyclists, campaigners, legal professionals and police fed into the report and its recommendations.

• During my tenure as road safety ambassador cycling increased over 90% on the TfL road network and the total number of cycle journeys increased by over 62m a year (2000-2009)

• I worked closely with London Cycling Campaign to stop Transport for London cutting the cycling budget completely in 2001and got road safety adopted as a priority target for the Metropolitan police in 2003 which started to reverse the decline in the number of traffic police. I again worked with London Cycling Campaign in 2009 to stop the police cutting their lorry safety unit. As well as these steps I got automatic number plate recognition technology introduced to catch unlawful drivers and vehicles.

• I used the annual budget deal with the previous Mayor to increase the cycling budget from £5m in 2002 to £36m by 2007/8

• In 2009 I produced a cross party report for the London Assembly advocating financial support for local authorities who wished to adopt borough wide 20mph limits.

• I commissioned the report in 2007 from Transport for London which came up with the idea for cycle hire and superhighways in London.