Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison on the lack of cycling infrastructure
2:45 PM November 8, 2021
Over the past fortnight, a lot of news has swirled around the COP26 climate change conference, as governments squabble over decarbonisation targets. This is, of course, mostly based on high-level issues – coal use, methane emissions and deforestation. However, if the UK is to achieve its target, it will depend not only on central government action, but also on advice.
In particular, the local government has a great responsibility for transportation. In London, it’s partly the gift of the mayor, who controls TfL, and politicians such as the ULEZ. But one of the main ways councils have the power to make a difference is by improving our cycling infrastructure.
So I was delighted to read in the Ham&High a few weeks ago about the growth of cycling and the serious investment in cycling infrastructure by the head of a local cycling organisation. I was also saddened, because of course this eulogy was not about Haringey, but about Camden. While Haringey Labor has focused on finding reasons why things like cycle lanes, street restaurants and road closures for events are too difficult to implement, other boroughs have gotten serious.
Haringey has been criticized in the past by a range of groups for ‘all talk and no action’ on active travel, and that has continued under the new cabinet since the removal of Cllr Ejiofor as chief in May. Even if we had some changes and the council met its meager targets, it would take, for example, until 2039 to install enough bike sheds just to meet the existing waiting list! This failure is as disconcerting as it is disappointing.
It’s time to radically change priorities. While Haringey Labor likes to talk about good play, our borough is not only being left behind, but increasingly becoming one of the most dangerous boroughs for walking and cycling in London. We can no longer continue to give them the benefit of the doubt that new projects are coming “in a few months”.
Last year Haringey got £1million from TfL (one of the highest amounts in London), to improve the borough for walking and cycling, but where did that money go?
Unless there is real change at the top, nothing ever changes in Haringey.
Luke Cawley-Harrison (Lib Dem) is Leader of the Opposition, Haringey Council