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Fears cycle scheme will be 'on the cheap'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Councillors have expressed concern that Kingston’s Go Cycle programme will have to be finished ‘on the cheap’.

Transport for London (TfL) had to pause funding for the scheme due to its financial problems caused by the coronavirus crisis, and now Kingston Council is hoping to finish it with reduced funding from TfL’s new Streetspace Fund.

The borough received the second-largest allocation of any London borough, but the vast majority – £1.95 million – has been allocated for the Go Cycle programme.

This is less than the previous Mini Holland budget that TfL had originally allocated for these projects.

Matthew Hill, Assistant Director of Highways, Transport and Regulatory Services said all four Go Cycle schemes would have to be redesigned to reduce costs, including less civil engineering work and cheaper materials.

Conservative opposition leader, councillor Kevin Davis, expressed concern about how effective the new cycle lanes would be if costs were cut.

He said: “I do get worried when I start to hear that we’re going to cheapen the schemes and make them less expensive than we had intended by less civil engineering because I’m not sure, the evidence that we’ve had so far of the schemes indicates that slightly softer approach necessarily works.

“It certainly doesn’t keep the cyclist lobby happy if we go down a cheapened approach to implementation.”

Cllr Hilary Gander said elements of the cycle infrastructure, such as kerb stones, were relatively cheap and very easy to “bolt in” and keep cyclists safe.

“There won’t be compromises in that sense, and certainly as far as the major infrastructure such as the river link, that will be completed to absolute safety standards, it is a bridge after all.”

Council 'frustrated' by postponed river crossing plans

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Previously proposed bridge
Original plans for a crossing were dropped in June 2019

Southwark Council has described the decision to pause work on the Rotherhithe/Canary Wharf crossing as “deeply frustrating”.

Transport for London (TfL) initially had plans for a walking and cycling bridge to “create a much needed route across the Thames in east London”, but shelved the idea last year over financial problems.

A new fast ferry service was proposed instead, but newly published budget papers from TfL said the scheme is “currently unaffordable in the context of other walking and cycling priorities” in the wake of Covid-19.

It is unclear when or if the plans will resume.

Responding to the news, Johnson Situ, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for growth, development, said “such schemes should be prioritised not paused”.

"The Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf crossing would provide a vital new route over the Thames in an under-served part of London and would mean more people can choose walking and cycling," he added.

A TfL spokesperson said: “We remain committed to improving river crossings in east London, particularly for sustainable modes.

“However, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our finances, particularly passenger income, means that our revised budget inevitably involves very difficult choices having to be made.

“While we are doing what we can to continue the vital capital investment which will help London recover from the pandemic, in the current climate some projects will have to be paused, including the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf crossing, as we seek a long-term sustainable funding settlement with government.”