It’s been described as “a staggering conflict of interest”, one that’s “astonishing” and potentially “explosive”. Yet so far it has gone almost un-noticed.
The chairman of the committee that will be deciding whether to fund London’s new “cycle super highways” is on the payroll of a company that is actively campaigning against them.
What’s his role?
As head of Transport for London’s Finance & Policy Committee Peter Anderson will be chairing the meeting on November 25th which decides whether or not to grant funding for the ambitious network of new cycle lanes.
It’s like asking employees of tobacco companies to decide whether there should be a smoking ban.
In a damning piece in the same newspaper former Olympic champion Chris Boardman described the briefing campaign as part of “an intense lobbying operation”.
The Canary Wharf Group, he claims, know “they stand little chance of winning any debate held in the open” and so are instead trying to “poison the project in secret”.
While there’s no suggestion Mr Anderson has been directly involved in this behind the scenes effort, it’s hard to see how anybody who worked for Canary Wharf Group could be considered completely impartial.
It’s a bit like asking employees of tobacco companies to decide whether there should be a smoking ban.
Why does London need cycle super highways?
The proposition for the new cycle super highways includes a north-south cycle lane and an east-west cycle lane that will be “substantially segregated” from traffic. The aim is to create routes that are much safer for cyclists after 14 bike riders were killed on the capital’s streets last year.
Supporters claim they’ll not only make cycling safer and faster, but also reduce the number of people driving and taking public transport to work, making the roads less congested and reducing over-crowding on busses and the underground.
Despite backing from Boris Johnson and the public support of many of London’s biggest businesses (including Unilever, Orange and RBS) there is a fear that the anti-cycle lane campaign will stall or even stop the development of the project, which is currently scheduled to be completed in 2016.