Election special – prospective Croydon councillors answer our questions on cycling policy

Supporting the National Cycle Network, improving safety, and avoiding Sanderstead Hill – politicians put forward their priorities for improving cycling in Croydon….

Croydon Cyclists recently attended the South Croydon Community Association local election Question Time event. A panel of representatives from four political parties running in this week’s local elections answered residents’ questions on subjects ranging from homelessness in Croydon to the planned Westfield shopping centre.

We asked politicians how committed they would be to the outgoing council’s strategy to increase the proportion of bike trips in Croydon from 1% to 3.5% of travel by 2025, with its implications for new cycle paths and redesigning dangerous junctions.

You can read their answers in full below: 

Richard Howard (Liberal Democrat) 

There are more things the council could be doing for cycling. We need to look at the issues holistically – we don’t just have a health problem, we don’t just have an air pollution problem, we don’t just have a transport problem, there are lots of things that are interlinked.

How do we achieve those targets? It’s all very well to cycle, but you might have young or older people who can’t do it, or alternatively people who are self-employed who need to carry tools.

So we have to have a sensible approach to how we do this. To me, it’s not just putting barriers in place to how people use transport at the moment, it’s about putting positive incentives in place to hit that target. I support that, but what we need to do is establish how we achieve that. When it comes to cycle lanes, there are definite things, like supporting the National Cycle Network, that can be done.

We can’t just look at this as a single issue, this is about doing something about our air quality, about our obesity, for our environment. It’s about putting all those things together.

When you look at them individually, people will say we can’t justify the resources, but we can tell them that we’re going to spend money that will help in so many areas that it will become a no-brainer.


Tony Newman, Labour 

Croydon is coming from a long way back in this area, we do need to do more. But we’ve got to address some of the safety issues. I’m a huge supporter of seeing more cycle lanes, but if people are going to use them, we need to address some of the safety issues at some of the junctions.

We can’t just put cycle lanes in to tick a box, and not make sure they’re as safe as possible. There are areas where cycling or pedestrian access should be encouraged, anything we can do to stop all of us using our cars so much should be encouraged.

But the safety of cyclists is absolutely paramount, otherwise we won’t an increase in cycling.

We have a potentially exciting programme ahead but there’s a long way to go, we’re nowhere near some of the other boroughs.


Peter Underwood (Green Party)  

We want to go surpass that target, we’d like to go way beyond that. Crucially, the population is increasing, the roads are grinding to a halt. We need to make more use of space we already have and that means more public transport, and more cycling, more walking. This isn’t just about a healthy environment, this is about the only way that we’re actually going to keep Croydon moving.

Croydon has a dreadful track record – when money is made available it wasn’t spent, there’s been money in place to improve junctions and build cycle lanes, but that hasn’t been accessed by Croydon Council.

This is a holistic issue. It needs to be about walking and cycling because everyone sitting in individual cars in traffic jams, it’s no good for the people sitting there, it’s no good for the people breathing the fumes, it’s just going to ruin Croydon.


Tim Pollard (Conservative)  

I’m of the view that the carrot is better than the stick. One of the reasons Croydon has a problem is that Croydon has a lot of hills. That does make it more difficult where cycling is concerned – there are parts of the borough where it’s quite easy, and there are parts where it is quite tough.

We should have a scheme in the centre of Croydon in particular, and potentially some of the districts like in central London, where you use public transport to get to the hub, then use a cycle to complete the journey and you don’t have to cycle up Sanderstead hill, which taxes all but the fittest, and I’m sorry to say I’m not one of those people!

The bottom line is that we all want to see more cycling. Peter is quite right that we can’t build any more roads, there’s virtually no prospect of any new roads anywhere, so until someone develops cars that float in mid-air above the main road, we’ve got to find a way to maximise people’s ability  use of public transport and cycling, so I think we’d all subscribe to that philosophy.

Written by Cat Early