This Friday, 29th October, cycling instructors are staging a protest cycle-ride from Trafalgar Square to City Hall after TfL suddenly slashed cycling instruction funding for the third quarter of the year.
Cycling instructors — who balloted to strike in July this year over a 12-year pay freeze (a 30% real-terms pay cut), unfair cancellation policies, and who are now faced with sudden job losses — are demanding the cuts be immediately reversed. The protest is organised by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
Mariam Draaijer, Cycling Instructor, said: “I’ve worked as a cycle Instructor for the last 3 years and I mainly work with women from the BAME community and help them to overcome barriers to cycling. Without cycle training, many adults will not take up cycling as an alternative form of transport that helps them to avoid using cars. It’s vital that we fight to get cycling instruction funding back to pre-covid levels, especially as cycling has become so much more popular during the pandemic. I’m a mum of two, and with less work available, I will struggle enormously to pay our rent and pay the bills. Cycle training in some boroughs has already completely stopped. We play such an important role in keeping London moving, but now we are having to fight to keep our livelihoods.”
Cycling is the greenest, cleanest, and healthiest form of transport. Cuts mean thousands of school children across London will not have access to cycling instruction. This represents a U-turn after the Government set targets to double cycling across the country as part of the ‘Gear Change’ plan to increase active travel.
Transport is the UK’s largest polluting sector, accounting for 27% of the UK’s total emissions. 28 out of 32 London boroughs have declared a climate emergency and, in advance of COP26, Sadiq Khan has recently declared his intent to tackle toxic air pollution in London. Cycling instruction has been proven to increase the number of cyclists on the road so 50% cuts to cycling instruction have significant implications for the future of Londoners being able to use bicycles as a means of transport.
Ben House, Cycling Instructor, said: “In a normal year, I would be working for six weeks in November and December, training around 150 young cyclists. Because of the funding cuts, schools have not been able to book any new training courses, I only have one week’s work booked, training just 24 children – and my income will be down 83% from usual. This pattern is echoed across London. Around 5,000 cyclists will miss out on training between now and Christmas. Many of these children will now never have the opportunity to have cycle training. TfL must reverse these cuts immediately to ensure children are trained and instructors are paid. Unless we protest now, TfL will ignore us and it will be too late for 1,000s of children to be trained.”
Cycling instructors at the IWGB have co-signed a letter to Sadiq Khan and deputy mayor Heidi Alexander demanding they immediately reverse the cuts. The letter has been co-signed by Haringey Labour Climate Action, Haringey and Enfield COP26 Coalition, Unite Community Enfield, Unite Housing Workers, and Enfield Trade Unionist coalition.