Islington doesn’t lag neighbouring boroughs says council leader

Islington is a cycling friendly borough, and we are committed to making cycling as safe and easy as possible says council leader Richard Watts.

Activist Eilidh M asks Council leader Richard Watts (27th October 2017):

Islington lags woefully behind neighbouring, similar boroughs in cycling provision. This situation has gone on for far too long. Cycle Islington tells me for decades. Local cyclists have had to put up with this as well as many who don’t feel able to cycle in the borough. Given the new Mayor’s Transport Strategy, what will Islington Council do differently going forward to ensure it plays its part in ensuring far more people feel able to cycle safely ?”

Council leader Richard Watts replies (31st October 2017):

Dear Eilidh,

Thank you for your question and for attending last night’s Leader’s Question Time event.

I do not agree that Islington lags behind other boroughs in its cycling provision, and can confirm that we work very hard to make cycling safer and to encourage more people to do it.

Free cycling training is available to children and adults. We are on target for 1,500 children to engage in our Bikeability programme and 500 adults to take part in our cycle skills sessions in 2017/2018.

We also provide a free monthly Dr Bike outside the Town Hall (on the first Wednesdays of the month) and support some other community events with a Dr Bike pop-up.

Our partnership work with Haringey and Hackney councils includes shared delivery of adult cycle skills sessions and the Finsbury Park Festival of Cycling and Walking, which attracts more than 1,500 people. We also work with Camden Council on adult cycle skills sessions.

Our project work includes, Our This Girl Can urban cycle skills course introduces young girls aged 14 and over to riding on quiet local streets, dealing with junctions and finding out how to cycle in traffic. Our courses are based in Finsbury Park. Bikes and helmets are provided. This project was developed to encourage young girls to take up cycling, as they are currently an under represented group.

We have also led cycle rides for City University, Archway ZEN and bike maintenance classes.

We are planning to install 18 new bikehangars across the borough, this will take our total number of secure bikehangars to 20. Secure cycle parking is something that residents have asked us to provide and we have secured funding from TfL to roll out this programme providing a total of 120 secure cycle parking spaces.

We are actively working with Transport for London to introduce safer cycling routes on quieter roads – avoiding known accident hotspots and sensitive junctions.

Working with the Mayor of London and TfL we are delivering better cycle routes across the borough, including cycle super-highways where segregated cycle tracks are being implemented. Next month work begins on construction of the last section of the North-South Cycle Superhighway, which runs through Islington, which includes segregated cycling on Farringdon Road up to Farringdon Station.

We have done a great deal in recent years to improve cycle safety and continue to do so, from being the first borough in London to introduce 20mph limits on our roads, to campaigning for the removal of dangerous gyratories at Archway, Old Street, Highbury Corner, King’s Cross and Nags Head. Work to transform Archway from a traffic dominated area to a safer place for cyclists and pedestrians alike has now been completed.

Islington is a cycling friendly borough, and we are committed to making cycling as safe and easy as possible. We want more people to cycle and will not rest until every road is safe, and we stand with those who are also working hard for change.

Thank you for your question.

Yours sincerely,


Cllr Richard Watts
Leader of Islington Council
Labour Councillor for Tollington Ward

Eilidh M replies to Cllr Watts (31 October 2017):

Thank you for the opportunity to ask my cycling question last night and for responding verbally as well as providing this written response.  However, it doesn’t really say how LBI will be contributing to the new Mayor’s Transport Strategy.

If you are doing so well, why is it such a commonly held view across the entire cycling community, far beyond the borough group, that Islington lags so far behind neighbouring boroughs and why do you think Stop Killing Cyclists has specifically called out Islington for “woeful” progress?

If you cycle from Islington to Hackney, for example, the change in cycling provision and infrastructure is striking and that’s what cyclists notice, comment on and compare.

I would love to organise a cycling trip round Islington with you and as many of your officials as possible to look at key areas of concern to cyclists;  although as a cyclist yourself you are no doubt already aware of most of them.  Perhaps you could persuade Cllr Webbe to get on a bike and come along too ?

Update:  no reply to date (15 February 2018)


  1. If cycling in Islington is so great, Cllr Watts presumably allows his children to cycle in Islington by themselves: does he?

  2. Just noticed that Cllr Watts uses the same speech that Cllr Webbe made in the town hall when I was thrown out for laughing at the full council meeting, and what she says in the Islington Gazette “Islington is a cycling friendly borough, and we are committed to making
    cycling as safe and easy as possible. We want more people to cycle and
    will not rest until every road is safe, and we stand with those who are
    also working hard for change.” Have they run out of speech writers?

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