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Boris Johnson hires Andrew Gilligan as cycling commissioner

By Adam Bienkov
17 January 2013, 16:25

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Boris Johnson has asked Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan to be his new “cycling commissioner.”

Gilligan told The Scoop today that he will accept the role and will advise both the Mayor and Transport for London on cycling policy.

The job will be a paid ‘pro rata’ position and he will do “one or two days a week.” The exact terms and conditions have not yet been finalised.

He plans to continue writing for the print edition of the Telegraph but will no longer comment on London politics on his Telegraph blog.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said today:

“It has always been the Mayor’s intention to appoint a Cycling Commissioner. Final discussions with Andrew Gilligan are taking place regarding a part-time role but at this stage no formal appointment has been made.”

Gilligan has previously been critical of the mayor’s programme of “cycle superhighways” which he once described as pointless.

However, he now believes that TfL are “moving in the right direction.” He told us today:

“I’ve spoken to the Mayor and I think if you look at some of the things Transport for London have done recently, such as the [plans for segregated cycle lanes] on Stratford High Street, they are clearly moving in the right direction.”

Gilligan cycles every day but has been very critical of what he describes as the “cycling lobby.”

Last year he wrote that

“What the cycling lobby always gets wrong is that it overestimates cycling’s political salience. Cycling gets a lot of media attention, but that’s because so many media folk cycle. Bikes are the transport of a small, disproportionately wealthy and privileged minority.”

He believes that campaigners have over-emphasised the safety risks of cycling in London which he insists is now “far safer than it was.”

He says that he will push the mayor to introduce what he describes as “radically pro-bike measures” including some of those championed by the Go Dutch campaign.

Gilligan is a current colleague of Boris Johnson at the Telegraph.

This will be the second time that he has accepted a job with Boris. Boris previously hired him at The Spectator in 2004 following his controversial resignation from the BBC.

Boris also gave Gilligan’s former editor at the Evening Standard Veronica Wadley a job at City Hall last year.

Labour tonight attacked the Mayor for spending “taxpayers money on jobs for his friends.”

Leader of Labour’s London Assembly group Len Duvall said:

“Boris’s arrogance apparently knows no bounds. He is going to appoint someone with no experience of making transport or cycling policy to a senior paid position at City Hall. This is truly startling. It looks like Boris has just appointed one of his friends without any independent evaluation of his skills or suitability for the post.”

Update Andrew Gilligan has now written about his new job on his blog.

Adam Bienkov
Adam is a reporter for Politics.co.uk You can find links to his other work at AdamBienkov.com.

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