Sunday, March 25, 2012

London Travelwatch

London Travelwatch are an organization that describes itself as "the voice of London's transport users." I think you can probably tell already where this post is going...

"We want to see the best journey experience possible for everyone travelling in and around London."

they enthuse. And they've launched a  document called "Transport users priorities for the 2012-26 Mayoral term"

Let's take a quick look at what they have to say about cycling. Nothing at all. Or to put it another way, diddly squat, nul, nada. Oh, except in a section entitled "Enforcing the rules":

"The Mayor must publicise and enforce the rules if
Londoners are to travel with confidence."

Sounds good...but wait - what rules are to be enforced?

"Parking controls, bus lanes and other forms of traffic
management must be enforced consistently to
ensure that bus passengers are not delayed, and
that buses can pull up beside bus stops. Pavement
obstructions, cyclists ignoring red lights, passengers
with their feet on seats, dropping litter, and motorists
driving uninsured vehicles are all unacceptable forms
of behaviour which must be discouraged."

Ah, so they know cyclists exist. Interesting how they think that "parking controls" and "motorists driving uninsured vehicles" rank higher than, say, dangerous driving in respect of travelling with confidence. You can tell these people don't ride bikes. Personally, I don't care a whole lot if someone is uninsured as long as they don't hit me. Now it's true that uninsured drivers also tend to be dangerous drivers, but by no means all dangerous drivers are uninsured. The fact that there are so many uninsured drivers is testament to the fact that there is serious under-enforcement of traffic laws.

The document also has a section entitled "A road network fit for purpose".

"There must be no relaxation of the successful efforts
which have reduced road casualties through engineering,
enforcement and education.

Gyratory systems and some one-way streets are
problematic for all transport users and the Mayor
must speed up work to remove them."

No mention of the C-word here. OK, the last statement we can all agree on, but I'm not sure what these "successful efforts which have reduced road casualties" are. That sounds a bit like we just need to carry on doing more of the same. The same car-centric policies that have prioritised traffic flow over cyclist safety and led to increasing cyclist casualties since 2007.

So who exactly are London Travelwatch? Well, one of its board members says he " had a career in marketing in the motor industry... I am naturally keen to see that motorists get a fair share of resources". Only one, Tony Bennett,  claims to cycle, describing himself as: "someone who uses public transport extensively, but also enjoys walking and cycling and makes many journeys by car".

Maybe London Travelwatch should change its slogan to  "The voice of London's transport users. Except cyclists."


  1. I think it's quite laughable that they want to ensure "motorists get their fair share of resources" maybe they could point out where they think motorists current share is being cut short?
    I mean they already have numerous multi-lane road systems to ensure they can get from A>B ASAP.

    I can see why they would have a problem with RLJing cyclists, I mean that old gentleman who rides through the red light at 10mph certainly poses more of a risk then the city banker flying down the road at 40mph whilst trying to close a deal on his mobile phone.....

  2. A quibble on insurance. I do think uninsured drivers matter. First, they are (probably) the most dangerous drivers. Second, it is yet another example drivers not paying the true cost of their activity. Car insurance is expensive because it imposes considerable risk on others. So you should pay if you chose to impose that risk.

  3. @Luke - I agree that insurance dodgers need to be caught, but mainly because if you catch an uninsured driver you likely also (as you say) to catch a dangerous driver. But lack of insurance never killed anyone. What I object to is London Travelwatch's relegating the offences of speeding and mobile phone use off the 'dangerous' list simply because they are 'middle class' offences.

  4. London TravelWatch is the body set up by Parliament to represent all transport users in and around London.

    London TravelWatch is supportive of promoting cycling in London and cycling becoming a greater proportion of trips than presently.

    Our users’ priorities document was developed to promote users’ views in the run up to the 2012 Mayoral elections.
    In developing the document we were mindful of what we could usefully and uniquely say. The document went through several iterations. We considered promoting our views on cycling based on our report Cycling in London (, but this was not pursued partly because it is not a major area of work for London TravelWatch but also there was a limit on what we could include in a short, punchy document. We also know that the cycling lobby is well able to make its voice heard.

    It should be noted that there is also no mention of Taxi and PHV passengers for similar reasons though we do some work on these modes.

    We are very keen to see more roads policing and express this view when we can. The list of rules should be read as examples of the many rules there are. We could not have included all of the rules of the road, nor could we list them in priority order. We are, however, pleased that our call for the ‘rules of the road’ to be followed has been taken up by others.

    It is a matter of record that road casualties have reduced over the last ten years. See:

    London TravelWatch presently has five Board members and a Chair. All are appointed by the London Assembly to represent transport users in and around London.

    London TravelWatch comments on cycling policy as it sees fit. We were recently invited to sit on the TfL sponsored Cycle Safety Working Group.