Southwark Council sometimes outdoes New Labour’s most gifted spin-doctors.
Take the council’s latest (third) u-turn on cycling. Five years ago they banned all new protected cycle lanes. Six months later, when Southwark News challenged them that they wanted cyclists to slow the traffic down, they announced their first u-turn and said that within 4 years a comprehensive cycle network would be built. Five years later not a single protected route has been built.
Last month after energetic campaigning by Stop Killing Cyclists, they announced another new dawn for cycling with the launch of the council’s Cycling Strategy. To be fair, this document was significantly better than the useless draft strategy sent out for public consultation. However, the two big exciting announcements were a £30 million fund to be invested by Southwark in cycling and a commitment to protected cycle routes on all roads over 20mph. Smelling a rat, I looked into these in detail. It turned out Southwark was including the £28.5 million being spent by Boris Johnson on new superhighways and quiet routes in the borough in their figures. The truth was a pathetic £0.5 million is to be spent by the borough itself each year. This is not enough to bring even one major junction up to Dutch safety standards.
The supposed promise for protected cycle routes on all roads with over 20mph limit was also pure spin. As Southwark has adopted a 20mph speed limit across the borough i.e. it has NO roads over 20mph!
Meanwhile, despite Stop Killing Cyclists recently staging a major Die-In protest at Camberwell Green, where yet another cyclist, Esther Hartsilver, was horrifically killed, the Council’s leader Cllr Peter John, has not even replied to their email listing actions the council has taken over the last 5 years making Camberwell more dangerous for cycling. Even worse, the Council has refused to include protected left-hand-turns in new proposals for the Green.
One new largely unprotected cycle route with a sexy name (the Southwark Spine) is a small step in the right direction but the carnage, deadly pollution and obesity epidemic on Southwark’s streets requires real money to be invested not just spin-doctoring.