Saturday, 18 October 2014

Evening Standard: Give us this cycle lane! On the same day another cyclist is crushed by a lorry driver in a collision on proposed cycle highway route in City of London

Last night's editorial in the Evening Standard
Last night's Evening Standard. The editorial kind of says it all.

A Yougov poll, also published in the Standard, provided the setting for that editorial piece. The vast majority of Londoners support the planned cycle highways, even if it means taking road space from private cars.

Main feature in last night's Standard
In the same week, dozens more employers have come out and said they also support the Cycle Super Highway plans. Massive employers, in fact. The UK's largest commercial property company Land Securities joined the Royal Opera House; Queen Mary University has written to the Mayor on behalf of its 17,500+ students and 4,000 staff; the students union of the University of the Arts London has also written in support on behalf of 17,500 students; even the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the CEO of Hovis Bakery (yes, they of the bread fame) have written in support. Special thanks also to the CEO of Brompton Bicycles for his personal support and to Evans Cycles for asking their customers to write in support. No special thanks whatsoever to Wiggle Bike Shop who have remained stunningly silent on all this.

Thank you Evans Cycles, for
encouraging others to show their support
Yet amid all the good news, there are several strands of bad, and one strand of awful, news. First the awful news.

Yesterday, once again, a cyclist was crushed at Ludgate Circus under the wheels of a tipper truck. We know her injuries are severe. The collision took place at exactly the same spot where Victor Rodriguez was killed on his bike by a tipper truck in April and at exactly the same junction where the north-south Cycle Super Highway is due to be built. AsEasyAsRidingABike pointed out on twitter that if the cycle highway had been built, there is no way the bike and the lorry could have even come into conflict. These injuries and fatalities are avoidable. An article in the Times makes the link that while TfL wants to build a cycle highway here, "organisations like the Canary Wharf Group and the City of London have raised concerns over possible delays to motor traffic." I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

It seems quite mundane to jump from this awful situation to the House of Commons but I want to point out that the battle over the Cycle Super Highways is by no means won. Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar & Limehouse - himself someone who cycles and is usually fairly wise on these matters - stood up and made a truly bizarre speech in Westminster. He claimed that the planned east-west Cycle Super Highway would 'prevent' 80% of all commercial traffic and public transport from using the Embankment. He also claimed that only 9% of motor traffic on the Embankment is made up of private cars. I have no idea where he's getting those figures from but they are entirely fictional. The DfT's own figures for the exact stretch of road he's talking about show that 69% of all traffic here is private cars. The 80% figure is just pure fabrication, I'm afraid.

I would like to point out that this week Jim Fitzpatrick has also mentioned that he has met senior figures from the City of London to talk about City / Tower Hamlets issues (the same City of London politician who tweeted a few weeks ago about his dislike of the Cycle Super Highways) and has been talking with Canary Wharf Group PLC about a charity fundraiser. Both organisations have been smearing the Cycle Super Highways to a greater or lesser degree. It would be a shame if an otherwise sensible MP has got himself caught up in those falsehoods.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Canary Wharf Finance Director must declare conflicts of interest before he chairs November's Transport for London committee that decides whether to fund Cycle Super Highways or not

Peter Anderson, FD, Canary Wharf Group PLC
Chair of TfL finance committee that will decide
on the Cycle Super Highway investment
This post is going to be a bit explosive. Please have a serious think about what I'm going to say.

This chap pictured above is Peter Anderson. He is the Finance Director of Canary Wharf Group PLC.

He is also on the Board of Transport for London. He is also Chair of TfL's Finance & Policy Committee. Bear with me on this. It's quite astonishing.

On Friday, the Guardian carried a story in which Canary Wharf Group admitted "it was behind the anonymous briefing" which was published first on this blog and in which, in my view, Canary Wharf Group sought to present a whole range of falsehoods and misrepresentations as fact in order to discredit Transport for London's Cycle Super Highway plans.

Another article in the Guardian states: "Another business lobbyist funded by Canary Wharf has toured the party conferences claiming, wrongly, that the superhighways will delay traffic in London by 6%."

Now, I would suggest there is a conflict of interests going on. It is at the very least inappropriate and I would like someone who reads this blog to have a serious think about whether it could potentially be more serious than that.

There is a piece of legislation called the Greater London Authority Act 1999 which sets out the governance of Transport for London. And the Act is pretty clear about conflicts of interest:


Peter Anderson has sat in TfL board meetings in which Cycle Super Highways have been discussed. Have a look at the video below - a TfL board meeting in February. Minute 4.30 onwards, the board is talking about the first stage investment in Cycle Super Highways. From minute 5.30, here is Peter Anderson talking about those Cycle Super Highways and finding ways to obfuscate: "is the impact [of cycle super highways] greater than the benefits?" he asks and suggests they might "need a redesign".  Here, at board level, is Canary Wharf's finance director going into minute details about segregated bike lanes. It is, in my opinion, rather unusual for a board meeting to discuss such intricate details as the position of kerb lines in the way that Peter Anderson is doing in this video. That raises eyebrows already.

What raises eyebrows even more is that we now know Peter Anderson's employer, on whose board he also sits, has been briefing against TfL's own cycle super highway policy (although we don't know when precisely Canary Wharf started to do that). We also know that, to date, Peter Anderson has never declared any interest in cycling and its relationship to Canary Wharf. You can see Peter Anderson's declarations of interest online.

So, that's issue number one.

But issue number two is more astonishing.

Peter Anderson is also the Chair of the TfL Finance and Policy Committee. This is the committee at which funding for TfL projects gets decided on. And if you look at the agenda for that Committee, you can see that on November 25th, Peter Anderson will be chairing the meeting that decides whether or not to fund the Cycle Super Highways. Look at Page 4 on the Forward Schedule from the last meeting, and it's staring right at you: Cycle Super Highways Programme will be discussed in the November meeting of the TfL Finance and Policy Committee, chaired by Peter Anderson.

In other words, the Finance Director of Canary Wharf Group PLC, an organisation which has been actively briefing against the Cycle Super Highways, is going to chair the Committee next month that decides whether or not to finance those very same Cycle Super Highways. AND, that Finance Director has not yet declared his company's activities or any interest in the Cycle Super Highways.

If Peter Anderson is to chair this meeting my belief is that he needs to immediately:

a) Declare the extent to which lobbying by Canary Wharf Group PLC, and their appointed lobbyists, at political party conferences over the last 45 days have targeted TfL plans for 'Crossrail for bikes'

b) Declare the extent of lobbying by Canary Wharf Group PLC, and their appointed lobbyists, to its tenants over the last 60 days that have targeted TfL plans for 'Crossrail for bikes'. (It is interesting that Deloitte, a big 4 accounting firm has declared support for 'Crossrail for bikes'. KPMG, which is a tenant of Canary Wharf Group, however, has not).

c) Declare what contact and communication Canary Wharf Group PLC, and their appointed lobbyists, have put on London First to make statements about TfL's plans for 'Crossrail for bikes'.

d) Declare what contact and communication Canary Wharf Group PLC, and their appointed lobbyists, have put on the Federation of Small Businesses to make statements about TfL's plans for 'Crossrail for bikes'.

e) Declare what contact and communication there has been between Canary Wharf Group PLC, and their appointed lobbyists, with HM Treasury in the last 60 days that have made reference to or pertain to TfL's plans for 'Crossrail for bikes'.

f) To what extent George Iacobescu, the CEO of Canary Wharf Group PLC is using personal funding and contacts within the Conservative Party and specifically with George Osborne to impact the TfL's 'Crossrail for bikes'.

If this is not a clear, inappropriate and incorrect failure to declare conflicts conflict of interest, I don't know what is.










Wednesday, 8 October 2014

City of London reports suggests it wants radical plans to reduce motor capacity on main roads in inner London. Another report suggests Canary Wharf Group strongly disagrees with that. Meanwhile, major corporates Orange, Unilever and now Royal Bank of Scotland show they are socially responsible employers and announce support for cycle super highway plans

Earlier this week, the City of London published its report on the Cycle Super Highways. I'm going to analyse the report below.

But before I do, I want to point out something that is probably more important than the City's inner workings. And that is something quite impressive. Thanks to the stirling work of the Cycling Works team, we now know that  Royal Bank of Scotland has written to the Mayor in support of the Cycle Super Highways on behalf of its 12,000 employees in London. The phone giant Orange has done the same. And Unilever, the Anglo Dutch corporate giant has written a very personal account of why it wants the Mayor to build the Cycle Super Highways: "We have tragically lost employees in the past who have been killed while trying to cycle to or from work. We do not want to lose any more." I have even had a note from the Dutch ambassador saying she intends to write to the Mayor as well.

Meanwhile, I now know that Canary Wharf Group is meeting all sorts of people about the Cycle Super Highways. This follows an anti-cycling briefing note which was being distributed by people linked to Canary Wharf Group and a very clear reference to the backroom antics of (what is probably also) Canary Wharf Group in last week's Evening Standard by a TfL board member.

On the one hand, we have major companies like RBS, Unilever and Orange showing social responsibility to their staff. On the other hand, it seems pretty likely, we have Canary Wharf Group.

And then we have the City of London.

Now, I find it rather odd that the City is putting out twitter statements like the one above. And I say that because the actual content of the City's internal report is much more balanced than this sort of "shock jock" twitter commentary, which is rather unusual to see from the Square Mile's twitter account.

If you read the City's very detailed report, it is actually quite balanced. And quite radical. Here's why (bear with me, I need to do a bit of context first)

First the context: The briefing note that has been handed out by people linked to Canary Wharf Group, is all about maximising central London for private motor cars. And, frankly, sod everyone else.

Unilever is supporting the
Cycle Super Highways.
Its HQ is at Blackfriars
But the City of London's report is very different. The core focus of the Square Mile shows that City of London politicians are completely opopsed to the sort of thinking being displayed in that briefing note that has been handed out by people linked to Canary Wharf Group. What the Square Mile is saying is that it wants to make its part of central London work better for pedestrians. Not for private cars. A key element of the City's report is that pedestrian crossing times need to be improved and it worries they will be made longer by the cycle highways. "A reduction in wait times are needed rather than increased or at worst they should remain the same". Actually, I can't disagree with that (although the grammar is rather odd).

The City's report goes even further. It points out that pedestrian crossing times have actually got worse in London over the last 10 years and it specifically blames TfL's motor vehicle policies for that:

"Over the last decade or so, pedestrian wait times at signal crossings have gradually increased. These increases have been made by TfL in order to maintain capacity for motor vehicles. It involves increasing signal cycle times which means it will take longer for the “green” man to appear. This also means that many pedestrians now ignore the “green” man and cross when they can, again increasing road danger."

In other words, under this Mayor and the previous Mayor, TfL has tried to squeeze in cycle facilities and pedestrian facilities. But it has done this by insisting on maintaing car capacity.

Now this gets a tiny bit technical but please please read this because it's important. You simply cannot maintain capacity for motor traffic and also fit in space and time for safe cycling and safe walking. It just isn't possible unless you build a gazillion new roads.

This is why Chicago's Mayor stood up and pledged a goal of ZERO road deaths within 10 years. How's he planning to do that? He's going to focus on making the roads safe enough for "even the most vulnerable – children, elderly, and persons with disabilities – [to] travel safely within the public right of way.” You cannot do that without restricting motor traffic. And the implication of the City of London report, although it does not say this directly, is that TfL needs to start reducing motor traffic in central London more than it has in the last decade. It is absolutely right about this. And Canary Wharf is, in my opinion, absolutely wrong.

Just a fraction of the companies that have written to the Mayor telling him to build
his Cycle Super Highways

There's a lot in the City's report I just don't agree with. There are parts in the report where I think the City is being plain cheeky. It appears to be asking for TfL's cycling money to be spent on a new pedestrian link to a new boat pier at Blackfriars. It makes some rather cynical comments about Blackfriars junction. I can't help but feel quite angry, for example, that the City meekly approved the current Blackfriars junction design a few years ago (despite significant public opposition) that it now describes as "confusing" and as having a "high collision" rate. But people, and local authorities, are allowed to change.

That said, the general direction of the City's report is not bad. The City is clear that it wants to support the Mayor's cycle super highway plans. But it quite rightly wants to stand up for the majority of its road users who are on foot. Now, when it comes to Upper Thames Street and Embankment, the majority of road users are not on foot. Because much of this route is a traffic-snarled, nasty environment. And the City's report does rather cynically mix up sections from one super highway plan with another in order to present a 'worst case' scenario at points.

But if you go with the overall impression of the City's report, it is about supporting the Cycle Super Highway plans but seeking to ensure benefits for pedestrians as well. I'm quite ok with the principle of that and I think most people would agree. I'm afraid I can't say the same for what Canary Wharf Group seems to be up to.


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Something quite amazing is happening: Over 50 Chief Execs of big London employers have already written to Boris telling him to get on with building the cycle super highways. The wind direction is blowing in favour of this change. You need to get involved.

Mediacom is a big global media player. It sent a clear message out last week saying that it intends to back the Mayor's plans for cycle super highways in central London. Their tweet below states very clearly why it thinks this is important. And it is not alone.






















We don't know precisely how many employers have written to the Mayor. But, through a pop-up campaign called Cycling Works!, we know that over 50 of them have already written to the Mayor and also chosen to make their announcement public on the Cycling Works website

What is clear is that employers big and small are lining up to get behind the cycle super highway plans. What is also clear is that what I'm going to write below only scratches the surface. Many, many more are coming.

Let's have a quick look at what's happened so far.

This week, the senior partner of the £1.1billion revenue global law firm Allen & Overy added his voice: "The roads of London have to be made safer for cyclists. This is a business issue as well as one for the wider community. As a civilised society we must take all necessary measures to keep people travelling about their daily business safely. Segregating cyclists and other traffic seems to be one of the most efficient and effective ways to achieve this. This is a message that is resonating around London businesses and other employers who are lining up to tell the Mayor they back his plans to build two safe, continuous, comfortable cycle super highways through central London."

He is joined by a company statement on behalf of Deloitte UK, one of the big four global services firms.

The NLA, London's Centre for the Built Environment issued a statement this week "[urging] its members to respond to the consultation; to comment on detail and support the overall proposals"In fact, a whole host of major property agencies, developers and investors have got behind the schemes. So far, we've seen property giants The Crown Estate, Knight Frank, Barratt Homes and Jones Lang LaSalle state their support. The mega agent GVA Grimley (which manages properties worth over €40billion) has also just put out a press release stating "Property consultancy GVA has thrown its weight behind plans to expand the existing network of Cycle Superhighways in London, as a TfL consultation over the scheme's expansion gets underway...cycling should form a key part of any major city’s integrated transport infrastructure."

New look New Bridge Street in the City of London? 

























Yesterday alone, 13 more CEOs did just that. Employers ranging from charities, to small tech companies with 50 employees to multinationals with 10s of 1000s of employees are getting behind the schemes.

In the health sector we've so far seen support from the CEO of NHS Barts Health Trust together with the CEO of the British Veterinary Association, the Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Managing Director of British Military Fitness

More tellingly, the Chief Exec of the London Air Ambulance has this to say: "We treat some of the most critically injured people in London and unfortunately one of the sickest patient groups are these cyclists who have been injured by large vehicles..We hope the proposed new measures will help to reduce the number of casualties and will be following these plans with interest."


The updated list of employers who have put their names behind the cycle super highway plans and chosen to do so in public is on the Cycling Works website and it is growing by the hour. China Daily and Euromonitor added their names yesterday, alongside other UK media and information businesses. The National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts has joined a whole host of big and medium-sized technology companies, including Equisys, Marmalade and Digital Craftsmen.

I think this is genuinely incredible. It would have been very hard to believe, a couple of years ago when 10,000+ of us were shivering in the rain on the London Cycling Campaign Go Dutch ride, or when a few thusand of us took to the streets to protest at Blackfriars, that we would eventually see major multinationals, charities, hospitals, software and tech companies, real estate investors, media companies and retailers all coming together to ask for responsible, safe routes for cycling through central London.

The wind is blowing in the direction of safe, convenient cycling in central London. Responsible employers are backing this because it helps their business but also because it protects their employees. If you read some of these messages of support, there are genuine and harrowing tales of staff maimed and, in some cases, killed, on their journeys to work. Deaths and injuries that are preventable.

If your employer isn't behind this, they should be ashamed of themselves. So many others are leading the way. Take action now please, if you can.