Exclusive: Mayoral candidate David Lammy says cycling in London is taking your “life into your own hands”

Lammy calls for HGV ban at peak hours, and an end to diesel vehicles in London

Labour’s mayoral hopeful David Lammy has said he doesn’t ever cycle the nine miles from his constituency in Tottenham to parliament, saying he is “not prepared to take my life into my own hands and leave my children without a father”.

Asked by LondonLovesBusiness if he ever cycles to work, Lammy said: “No I don’t. I have three children and I’m at that age and stage where I’m not prepared to take my life into my own hands and leave my children without a father.

“I think there are a lot of people who are my age with children who see the profile of those who lose their lives, and take the decision that they will use public transport. And that’s what I do.”

Lammy’s dramatic assertion is odd, given the statistics for cycling in London show that it is an eminently safe mode of transport – Transport for London (TfL) estimates that 610,000 journeys a day were made by bike in 2014 (that’s 222 million a year), and 13 people were killed over the course of the year. While every death is one too many, the numbers have fallen considerably over the last decade, while the number of cyclists on London roads has doubled.

Meanwhile, almost 9,500 people die from pollution in London every year, which is pumped out by taxis, cars and buses.

Lammy’s stance is hardly an encouragement for London’s would-be cyclists.

However, the Tottenham MP says he does want to improve London for cyclists.

Lammy said: “There are five things we need to do: I do think we need to ban HGVs at peak times, I do think we need to double the budget at TfL – only 1% of the TfL budget is actually dedicated to cycling – we need someone on the board at TfL who’s an advocate for cycling. I’m worried about cycling proficiency falling away across the city, and I’d want to see that stepped up.

“I absolutely support superhighways and there’s more we need to do to see ethnic minorities cycling, and seeing bike hire spread to outer London.

In terms of tackling air pollution, Lammy added: “We need to move away from diesel cars. It’s diesel cars that cause the problem and I’d like to look at whether in the congestion charge we could price diesel cars out of the system. We also need to accelerate electric cars in the same way that you see in Paris.”

But unlike current mayor Boris Johnson, Lammy is reluctant to lead by example.

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Anonymous

    Roads too narrow for cycle lanes should have a speed limit of 20

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  • Anonymous

    So he wants no business vehicles during peak hours (lorries) and no black cabs as many are diesel. Another Labour loony who is anti-business.

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  • Anonymous-speed limit of 30 not observed so what makes you think 20 would be? need much more enforcement of traffic offences such as speeding and driving using a mobile. AnonymousNo.2- this policy needn't be anti business,we just need sensible but urgent action to curb pollutants, of which diesel is the biggest culprit-we cannot ignore the deaths from pollution just as we cannot ignore the deaths from RTA's. A cleaner London will improve the health and efficiency of its workers and attract young world class professionals if we make their environment more enjoyable. I really feel for black cabbies though, and think govt should help them financially to switch to cleaner vehicles quickly, rather than just do what they did with coal miners etc-ie lay them off with no hope of an alternative income. As for Lammy, I'm not a Lammy supporter but Christian Wolmar, who does cycle 'a lot', but I do feel for him saying as a father he would not risk cycling. As someone who has cycled to work for 30+ years now, Its dangerous out there for those inexperienced cyclists and young 'tearaway' cyclists ( i was probably one once too but thankfully survived- roads were a little less crowded then and people had more time and care for others. there were also far fewer 'fast van delivery drivers' as there were no internet package deliveries, and fewer HGV's as construction within London was less frantic ) Now as a family man i take far fewer chances, and am forced for safety to use pavements on busy arterial roads such as the A20, where there are no pedestrians, but 'massive beast' juggernauts travelling at 40mph+ from the continent on roads without ANY cycle paths. The police realise the dangers too, otherwise they would stop more cyclists who do the same. This is NOT good enough at all. If roads are too narrow for cycle paths, make the lanes narrower and remove some of the two lane roads which just encourage speeding, only for the offenders to be held up at the next roundabout or junction. Lammy has not thought his cycle policies through, and one suspects he is just 'jumping on the cyclist band wagon'. Check out Wolmars policies-I think he really knows about and believes in a cleaner,more efficient London transport system. And if anyone suggests I should use a car-Its against my principles (and i walk in central London at age 60, never needing a cab). I also could not take public transport easily to work-my journey is 30 mins by bike and 2 hours by public transport whichever way you do it in the rush hours. So please, have a care for we cyclists, we don't want to die whilst still (relatively) young and we believe in our principles and right to a safe journey, and yes like David Lammy, we want to see our grandchildren.

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  • David Lammy has a point....Boris has blood on his hands of all the innocent bike riders killed (lot of them by buses - not just HGVs). There are VERY FEW decent bike riders on the streets aand EVERYONE knows it. HGV parking facilities are almost 50% of what it was 4 years ago and PCNs are a cash-cow for TFL and 7 other local authorities in WEST LONDON only...This has NOTHING to do with traffic management but bash the motorist at every given opportunity. Ban the HGVs in peak hours - perfect! London business will collapse.

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