London’s healthy streets programmes on life support

The Mayor’s flagship walking and cycling programmes face a £100 million black hole, my Green London Assembly colleague Caroline Russell has revealed today.

A widening chasm is opening between the funding that was supposed to go to walking and cycling schemes in London and what has actually been handed out to boroughs this year.

The Mayor promised a move away from car use and set himself the target of 80 per cent of all journeys to be taken by Londoners walking, cycling, or hopping onto public transport. Without safe space for journeys on foot or by bike and with coronavirus keeping people off buses and tubes, the healthy shift from car use is at risk.

Comparing TfL borough funding last year with the Mayor’s rushed-in Streetspace allocations this year, Caroline found that nearly every borough is a million pounds down.

Some boroughs, like Kingston which had invested heavily in a transformational Mini Holland scheme, have seen their annual funding drop by £7 million and have had to scale back planned schemes.

Caroline says:

“The Mayor tried to paint a positive picture over the summer, with hundreds of new schemes announced and programmes happening all over London, but the truth is funding is collapsing and the pipeline of new schemes is broken.

“We are told that Healthy Streets investment is paused but it’s on critical life support and needs the Mayor to stand firm to protect it. Londoners need safe space for walking and cycling to enable socially distanced local journeys.

“The Mayor should have an honest conversation with Londoners about which road danger reducing schemes will be scrapped, and what can be done in their place if temporary alternatives are needed.

“At a time when the Bank of England is printing new money and urging action on climate change, investment in walking and cycling must be front of the queue and the Mayor should be pushing Government to do more.”

The news comes just after the Mayor signed a further short-term funding deal for TfL with Government which fails to provide the funding required. In addition, figures released by Transport for London this week show that there are still more than 100 School Streets schemes yet to be delivered.

Boroughs in London are also still awaiting £20 million of funding from the Department for Transport which they bid for in the summer but has been repeatedly delayed.