At a meeting on January 9th at City Hall, the mayors discussed the challenges of providing improved cyclist infrastructure and the challenges involved in improving road safety measures.
This meeting follows discussions in March 2013, when Mr Johnson and Mr Delanoë met in Paris to talk about pollution reduction measures, the diversification of public transport, and electric car schemes.
As well as discussing cyclist health and safety in the most recent meeting, the mayors also talked about how Paris and London can boost their cultural ties with each other, considering the potential of developing a cultural exchange season so the cities can promote their artists amongst each other.
They also agreed that Andrew Gilligan, London’s Cycling Commissioner, will visit Paris in February to discuss ideas on road and cyclist health and safety measures and to talk about best practice.
Can London learn cyclist health and safety measures from Paris?
Chris Boardman, a former Olympic cyclist, said in an open letter to Boris Johnson that London should look into restricting the movement of HGVs in the city during peak hours – an initiative seen in Paris and Dublin and widely considered to have improved cyclist safety and reduced the number of road traffic accident claims involving cyclists. He said Mr Johnson had made a “verbal promise” to do so.
However, speaking to BBC London 94.9, Mr Johnson said he is not convinced by this proposal. While he said there is a “bigger conversation” to be had about the dangers of HGVs, he said a rush-hour ban would cause problems for companies in the region and could lead to serious influxes of lorries when the ban is over.
While he is studying such proposals, he argued he was “by no means satisfied” that restricting the movement of HGVs is the answer to these health and safety concerns.
Writing in the Guardian at the end of November 2013, London Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan pointed out that only two of the cycling deaths the city had seen so far that year would have been prevented by a morning rush-hour HGV ban, with the other 12 fatal cyclist accidents either involving vehicles other than lorries or occurring outside of the rush hour.
He described claims that the HGV ban eliminated cyclist deaths in Paris as “untrue”, saying that while central London saw just one fatal cyclist accident in 2012, central Paris saw five in total, while Greater Paris saw a total of 17 cyclist deaths.
He said that “hideous tragedies” can lead to poor policy decisions, highlighting the War on Terror and the Dangerous Dogs Act as examples of this. Tragedies make people panic, which encourages them to take action, regardless of whether the action they take is the right thing to do, he stated.