London Mayor Boris Johnson has been accused of “complete hypocrisy” by saying that he supports a campaign to make roads safer for cyclists.
Responding to a safety campaign launched by the Times newspaper last week, the Conservative mayor said he applauds “the objectives of the campaign”.
But Bikes Alive, a recently-formed network of cyclists who are taking non-violent direct action, pointed out that Johnson has failed to act in response to calls from London Assembly members and local councillors for safety improvements in the Kings Cross area.
They insist that the safety standards set by Transport for London (TfL) – which is overseen by Johnson - are not adequate. They also argue that many busy junctions do not even conform to these “inadequate” standards.
Albert Beale of Bikes Alive said that the mayor had spent “more than three years setting the policy of the organisation which consistently relegates the safety and health of cyclists, and of other non-motorised road users, below the inhuman demands for ever-increasing traffic volumes”.
The controversy broke out in the run-up to a third direct action by Bikes Alive, who enforced another "go-slow" of traffic at the dangerous road junction outside Kings Cross station yesterday (6 February). A number of cyclists have been killed or injured at the junction.
In addition to cyclists, the protests have so far attracted a number of pedestrians, particularly disability rights campaigners.
The mayor's alleged refusal to address road safety has been highlighted by the direct action. At the first such protest last month, the Christian environmental activist Tamsin Omond led participants in a chant of "Where is Boris?".
The group say they are “pledged to continue to take action until the balance of power on London's roads is changed”.
They argue that TfL's current policies prioritise the speed and volume of motor traffic over all else. They point out that many people who drive in London could easily use public transport instead.
The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) last week refused to back direct action and publicly criticised Bikes Alive for using “forceful language”. In response, Bikes Alive said that the would be happy to discuss the issue with LCC, but that the organisation had not approached them directly.