The London Road Safety Council has written to Transport for London (TfL) to raise concerns about a lack of funding for boroughs to deliver cycle training.
The significance of active travel as lockdown restrictions are eased has been well documented, with modelling by TfL suggesting there could be a 10-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking.
To accommodate this growth, Sadiq Khan launched the ‘London Streetspace’ programme on 6 May, with plans to create temporary cycle lanes and close roads to through traffic.
In the letter, addressed to TfL’s new transport commissioner Andy Byford, the London Road Safety Council (LRSC) says amid the need to provide new active travel infrastructure, cycle training has been forgotten.
The LRSC says less than a handful of local authorities are being able to implement cycle training – and that the responsibility lies with TfL to enable it to restart in a way that meets social distancing requirements and protects health.
The LRSC is calling on funding to be given to boroughs ‘without further debate’ in order to provide inexperienced cyclists with advice, support and guidance – which will inevitably save lives.
The letter reads: “As a committed and involved group of road safety officers and councillors, the LRSC is impassioned about making sure that our roads are going to be safe for the new norm, post the Coronavirus.
“TfL plays a vital role by continuing funding to local councils for them to continuously focus and work towards keeping training, education, and support for the vulnerable road users.
“There is a responsibility by you to us and all councils to financially support them to maintain this work. The mayor of London has invested time in the Streetspace plan, however training for cyclists has been forgotten.
“Cycle training must be available now to all boroughs before our roads are flooded with inexperienced cyclists rushing to work using the streetspace routes.
“TfL have focussed on the training of drivers returning to empty roads after the lock down with advertisements for radio.
“Cycle training is, arguably, more important and funding needs to be given to the boroughs without further debate as people need advice, support and guidance when cycling on our roads – having a bike and getting on it is not enough.”
The letter also calls on TfL to recognise road safety officers as a central public health asset, supporting safe active travel and its benefits.
It reads: “The changing nature of urban mobility means that safety will be more important than ever.
“However, road safety staff are being diverted by their local authority employers to support the extra demands for other services to support communities during the crisis.
“When many public health practitioners in local authorities are focusing on the virus, road safety officers should be seen as a central public health asset supporting safe active travel and its benefits for the health and recovery of individuals, communities, wider society and the planet.”