Chris Boardman has described London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith’s recent transport manifesto as ‘ambiguous’ and says he eyes the Conservative MP with a degree of suspicion.
Goldsmith has so far not been able to find a time to meet with Boardman ahead of the Mayoral elections – the other main candidates have done so – and a series of anti-cycling statements made by the MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston have made Boardman question his stance on sustainable transport.
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In recent months, Goldsmith has complained about being hounded by cycling campaigners, said he would rip up cycle lanes if they don’t improve transport in London and said he would make Transport for London re-run a consultation that supported a cycle superhighway in Regent’s Park.
“We’ve been trying to get a meeting in the diary for months and he’s finally come back this week with a very specific time and date; 11.30am one week from the election. As it happens, I can’t make that date so we’re going to try and get them to arrange a different one,” Boardman told the Londonist.
“David Cameron said he wanted cycling in the UK to rival the rest of Europe but [Goldsmith’s transport] manifesto contains no promises, no actions and no money. Coupled with some other statements he’s made about cycling recently, I view him with a degree of suspicion.”
While Boardman, British Cycling’s policy advisor, is a key voice behind the cycling revolution in Britain in recent years he insists his goal isn’t simply to ensure cycling is high on the political agenda.
He sees cycling as a means to end the overcrowded transport system in the capital – one of the key challenges facing the next Mayor of London.
“I’m not pro-cycling. I’m pro-common sense. There are 10,000 people a month coming to London and the transport system can’t respond,” he added.
“Cycling is a tool to do a job. If someone doesn’t like the plans [for increased cycling infrastructure], they should be forced to come up with a better way of solving the problem. The status quo is not an option.
“TfL isn’t building the cycle highways out of any sense of benevolence. There’s the equivalent of a tube-train load of people arriving each week and not leaving. The only method of keeping everyone moving is by getting them out of motorised vehicles.”