Chris Boardman remains “massively supportive” of Boris Johnson’s programme to improve London cycle safety after a week when the mayor endured heavy criticism for appearing to blame cyclists in the aftermath of six deaths in two weeks.
Earlier this week, the British Cycling policy advisor wrote the London mayor urging him to honour a verbal promise to investigate the viability of banning lorries entering the city centre at rush hour.
Despite disappointment that no action had been taken in eight months since the pledge was made, Boardman defended Johnson’s commitment to cycling.
The former Olympic champion told BikeRadar: “I was disappointed and that’s why I wrote the letter.
“However I’m massively supportive. He’s the only person who’s actually had the balls to stand up and say, ‘actually I’m going to try and affect the change’.”
Johnson has attracted criticism this week for attacking risk-taking and headphone-wearing cyclists. Critics said this masked his inaction on plans to provide adequate cycling infrastructure in the capital.
“Naturally when it all goes wrong [Johnson’s] the person everybody shoots at,” said Boardman. “It’s not what he’s thinking, and he’s trying to do something.”
Boardman, who has called on the UK government to make transport planners move cycle infrastructure up the priority list when designing new road and junctions, also shared the mayor’s view that it was impossible to provide a completely segregated cycle network in many London streets.
Boardman said: “I said two years ago… we have a finite amount of road space. We are not starting from scratch and at some point you do have to choose. You can’t have it all: you can’t have segregated cycling and roads in London – there are buildings on each side
“You have to choose who gets priority and that’s where we are now.”
Mike Cavenett of the London Cycling Campaign rejected the view there wasn’t enough space for segregated cycle tracks in the capital.
He said: “The space argument is rubbish. There’s a solution for every street in London to make it useable for motor traffic, pedestrians and bicycles.”