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Pidgeon pledges increased support towards cycling in London

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The Liberal Democrats’ London mayoral candidate, Caroline Pidgeon, has told British Cycling that increasing Transport for London investment in cycling means “improving the environment for everyone” in the capital.

Ms Pidgeon met Chris Boardman, British Cycling policy adviser, in London earlier this week, the latest in a series of meetings that Mr Boardman will hold with mayoral candidates.

Acknowledging that London has begun its journey towards being a “true cycling city”, Ms Pidgeon outlined how, if elected, she would continue the progress made by previous mayors.

She said: “Part of the key is putting serious money in. At the moment we’re not even spending 2% of Transport for London’s budget (on cycling) – I want us to be moving towards 3% by the end of this next term. This will match the number of people cycling and, beyond that, if more people are cycling we need to put more money in.

“We need to invest more, and I don’t want people thinking that this is just cycling money – it’s about improving the environment for everyone.”

Almost 10,000 Londoners die prematurely each year due to long-term exposure to air pollution, and Ms Pidgeon explained a number of potential solutions in the quest for cleaner air and safer roads for all.

She continued: “One of the things I’ll be doing is improving the congestion charge zone in central London. I’d be increasing charges for that. I’d be bringing in a workplace parking levy – I think it’s a luxury that some employers allow you to drive to work in central London.

“We’ve got to get people out of their cars, but I also think we’ve got to ban HGVs at those peak hours when people are going to and from work. I think that would really help clean up the streets, make a nicer environment and encouraging more people to make those journeys by bike, which is what we want to see.”

Cycle superhighways

Outgoing mayor, Boris Johnson, has introduced several cycle superhighways to connect outer London to the centre of the city, and Ms Pidgeon says she will continue with these plans, while also placing even greater emphasis on cycling in the outer boroughs.

She said: “I want to make sure that every part of the capital is great for people to cycle in, and that it feels safe for people to cycle. I want to carry on the cycle superhighways – even the controversial bits – but I also want to look at outer London, because I think that there’s a real opportunity there to get more people out of their cars and on to bikes for those shorter trips.

“The way to do that is to invest in some of these mini-Holland schemes that we’ve already seen piloted in some boroughs – we need to roll that out across the whole of London to make sure that everyone feels safe to hop on a bike and make those short journeys.

“We also need to spend some time and money working with communities to understand what our vision for cycling is. I think in some ways we’ve had to try to spend the money so quickly we haven’t brought the community with us to understand that it’s not just about cyclists, it’s about pedestrians, it’s about everyone who lives in an area.”

The London mayoral election takes place on May 5. The full list of candidates is: Sian Berry (Green Party), David Furness (British National Party), George Galloway (Respect), Paul Golding (Britain First), Zac Goldsmith (Conservative), Lee Harris (Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol), Sadiq Khan (Labour), Ankit Love (One Love Party), Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrats), Sophie Walker (Women’s Equality Party), Peter Whittle (UKIP), John Zylinski (Independent).