Wednesday 3 September 2014

Dodgy figure on the cost of London cycleways

Professor Stephen Glaister has given his opinion on the new cycleways in London; apparently he said

“the mayor's plans would cost £100 per Londoner”
Mayor of London unveils segregated urban cycleways - BBC News - 03/09/14

As far as I can tell that is the investment number mentioned in the article, £913m, divided by 9 million ish people in "London".
The problems with that are:

  • That number is the total investment in all cycling programs not just the segregated cycleways
  • It is the budget for a decade’s worth of those programmes, people might think he means this year
  • It isn’t just Londoners that pay for Transport for London

As far as that last point goes, to calculate what fraction they do pay is quite complex:
TFL gets about 1% of the GLA component of council tax from residents, plus a large grant from central government, which while we all pay for. (It may be that proportionally more will come from Londoners due to it having more higher earners.)
40% of TFL income is from fares and similar income, but I haven’t be able to find a sensible breakdown between residents, commuters, other UK visitors and people from overseas.
However any case it is easy to conclude that not all of the £913m will be paid for by residents of the capital.

I’m sure that Professor Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation ("…advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist") wouldn’t want anyone accidently mislead by the number as it has been quoted and will be on the phone to the BBC to get this fixed ASAP.

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