Our pre-electoral statement
Bromley needs LEADERSHIP in grasping the opportunity for ‘active travel’
Bromley needs to adapt to a changing world, and address the challenges of growing population, congestion and pollution, while improving public health and reducing obesity. The promotion of ‘active travel’, especially walking and cycling, is an obvious and inexpensive part of the solution to all of these problems, attested by the NHS, Public Health UK, the BMJ, the WHO and OECD. Indeed, the State can recoup investments in active travel through lower costs of health and care provision.
- When it comes to cycling we start from a low base
Currently a derisory 1% of Bromley’s secondary children cycle to school, compared to the Netherlands’ average of 75%. There is a massive opportunity to boost both this and the numbers of commuters who cycle to their local stations. However safety is a big issue: the Bromley Cycling Strategy of 2015 showed that while only 1.1% of Bromley trips were made by pedal-cycle in 2011/12, cycling accounted for 10% of road casualties. We need a major investment in safe cycle routes.
- Bromley needs a vision
In his Draft Transport Strategy, the Mayor of London set a target for 80% of all trips to be made by walking, cycling and public transport by 2041, up from 64%. Bromley is far from this, and as regards cycling Bromley Council’s current efforts do not come close to meeting this challenge. Funding is low, around £1.89 per person per annum in the first half of this decade, with an ‘aim’ of £5 per head by 2020, far below the £10 recommended by the House of Commons Transport Committee Cycling Safety report (2014), and £24 per head in the Netherlands.
The Council is investing modestly in cycle routes and ‘hubs’, relying on TfL funding. However, it has done very little to improve routes round major junctions; indeed, the Council leadership has been pushing for a large Academy at Bromley South that would remove future options for protected cycle ways for commuters and children. In its handling of recent planning applications for schools and major developments, it has done little to create safe routes by any means other than motor transport.
- Funding is available for this
In 2017, TfL launched a new Liveable Neighbourhoods funding scheme with grants of £1 to £10 million for a wide range of community-supported projects, including creating green spaces and cycling infrastructure, redesigning junctions and widening of walking routes. This is a major funding opportunity, for which Bromley must bid if it is to make serious progress towards the Mayor’s target.
- Political courage is required
We acknowledge the hard work of council officers and the interest of individual councillors, but we need far more enthusiasm and leadership from the TOP. In 2015, our Coordinator Spencer Harradine pointed out that Bromley was falling short of Mayor Johnson’s cycling vision, and more recently the (now) Leader of Council rejected Mayor Khan’s transport strategy out-of-hand on the grounds that “it won’t work in Bromley” and that “people like their cars”.
People we speak to say they would cycle, and let their children do so, if they thought it was safe. There are already more cars in Bromley than in any other London Borough, but the Council continues to prioritise them, which prevents walking and cycling fulfilling their potential as major modes of transport. There was a time when many drivers didn’t like wearing seat-belts, but political leaders had the courage and tenacity to make this intervention work for the public benefit.
We shall be contacting electoral candidates individually, to ask if they will pledge to the following principles and measures:
- Support for the main elements of the Mayor’s transport strategy
- A major increase in expenditure on cycling, from 2019/20, and rising thereafter
- Prioritise winning Liveable Neighbourhoods bids
- Safe cycle routes to railway stations (including protected tracks and quiet ways)
- Safe cycle routes to schools (including protected tracks and quiet ways)
- Secure cycle parking facilities at schools and railway stations
- Speed limits of 20 mph close to schools and in high streets
- Speed limits of 30 mph on residential and rural roads (excluding some main thoroughfares)
We shall publish the results on this website.
Anyone wishing to comment may write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org