Southwark Liberal Democrats have responded to London Cycling Campaign's request to back a number of changes to local roads and traffic as part of their 'Space for cycling' campaign.
The letter from Southwark's Lib Dem Group leader Cllr Anood Al-Samerai lays out our key policy on cycle safety, and pledges support for the campaign, saying each of the specific changes should be discussed and agreed at Community Councils in the borough.
The text of the letter to the London Cycling Campaign is below. Specific ward issues put forward through the campaign have additionally been considered by relevant ward councillors.
More information about the Space for Cycling campaign - and the changes requested in each ward - can be found on the campaign website.
Dear London Cycling Campaign
The Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for Southwark Council to take cycling more seriously, because we believe cycling is a great way to reduce emissions, keep fit, and see more of our borough. Unfortunately, the perceived dangers of cycling and lack of integrated facilities puts many people off getting into the saddle, so we recently launched our cycling vision, which outlines the changes we would make to really improve the situation.
Our vision is based on five central pledges:
- Transform cycle safety in Southwark by introducing protected cycle lanes along all main roads.
- Roll out a new network of cycle facilities across the borough including cycle stands, lockers and Community Bike Repair Stations.
- Work with TfL to extend the London bike hire scheme further into Southwark and install more docking stations in areas where it already operates.
- Sort out Southwark’s potholes, broken pavements and route signs, allowing communities to decide their own spending priorities for the area.
- Set a tough target to increase cycling uptake in the borough, with an ambitious aim for 20% of all journeys in the borough by 2026 to be by bike.
In December last year we held a Southwark Cycling Summit to discuss these ideas with local cyclists, and we were pleased to receive strong support for these plans. I hope that you agree they will make a big difference to the experience of Southwark residents travelling around on two wheels.
With all our policies for the forthcoming local elections, we will put communities back at the heart of decision-making, and so the specifics of local changes will be decided by Community Councils, using new funding that will be provided by the council itself. In this way, we can ensure that the best cycling facilities are provided across the borough, using the knowledge of local people – like LCC members – to tackle problems that the council’s transport and public realm teams might not even be aware of.
My colleagues and I would therefore be very happy to take each of the ward proposals made by LCC members to the relevant Community Council to be agreed by the local community. As with all changes to the local area, it will be very important to consult local people and ensure that there is support for these plans before any changes are made, and our Community Councils are the best environment for these issues to be examined in.
The proposals tackle a range of key issues across Southwark, and many of them fit in with our existing pledges on cycling. The move towards protected cycle lanes is vital to make cycling safer and more appealing to residents of all ages, and Southwark Liberal Democrats are committed to providing these along all main roads, following consultation with local people. We also agree that the speed of motorised traffic must be limited to 20mph on our roads, using not just signs but genuine enforcement and traffic calming measures where necessary. Junction design must be addressed on some of our busier roads, as many of our streets were not originally designed with the needs of modern-day cyclists and pedestrians in mind. And the prevention of rat running along quieter roads to protect both local residents and cyclists is another important aim, allowing filtered permeability for cyclists and pedestrians. We are committed to pursuing all of these important goals, in conjunction with TfL for those roads that are not managed by the council.
I am sorry to say that our plans have not been supported by local Labour councillors, despite the clear support of local people. At a council meeting in January this year we put forward a proposal that the council should carry out an urgent review of all the borough’s streets, to identify which safety improvements are required where, and get on and start making the upgrades. But every Labour councillor voted against this plan, which would have kicked off some real action after years of warm words on cycling from this Labour council.
However, we will continue to push the council for change on cycling, and are committed to delivering all aspects of our cycling vision if we win control of the council following the election on Thursday 22nd May.
If you would like to read more about the Liberal Democrats’ plans for cycling, our policy paper on Environment, Transport and Leisure can be viewed on our website, along with our full manifesto and all the supporting policy papers:
Councillor Anood Al-Samerai
Leader, Southwark Liberal Democrat Council Group