What Urbanists Can Expect From London’s New Mayor

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks during an assembly in April. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

In a nod to the importance of prioritizing transit, new London Mayor Sadiq Khan kicked off his first day on the job Monday by taking the bus to work. A member of the Labour party and a bus driver’s son who grew up in social housing, Khan focused his campaign on worker’s and human rights. Here’s a look at his statements on streets, transportation and affordable housing.

Previous Mayor Boris Johnson made huge strides in bike infrastructure during his eight years in office, and Khan said he’ll keep up the momentum. “I’m not just going to keep the proportion of Transport for London spending on cycling the same, I’m going to increase it,” he told Chris Boardman of British Cycling during his campaign. “Both Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone deserve praise for their plans for cycling, and I want to build on, and accelerate, the progress that we’ve made in London over the last few years.”

In April, Khan, a previous transportation minister, told The Guardian that he aimed to “make London a byword for cycling around the world.” Khan committed to prioritizing bike boulevards, continuing the cycle superhighway program and finish rolling out the town-center cycling improvement plans that are already in the works. Khan says his plans to improve the city’s air quality will help encourage biking as well.

Khan has also highlighted the importance of making public transportation affordable and accessible, calling London for Transport a “flabby” and inefficient organization during his campaign. London transit fares are among the highest in the world, and increased 40 percent during Johnson’s tenure. Khan promised to combat these increases by freezing fares for four years. He also plans to temporarily freeze the congestion charge levied at drivers in the city center. (Currently, London drivers pay £11.50 to drive in the city center between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.)

Khan claims he’ll be aggressive about tackling the city’s inequality and creating affordable housing. London has some of the most expensive housing in the world, and Khan’s plans to address the issue include building 50,000 new homes a year, giving locals “first dibs” on some new properties, and “bringing together an alliance of people from local authorities, housing associations, developers, those in finance to make sure we start building the genuinely affordable homes we need.”

In his swearing in ceremony, Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London, focused on the importance of representing “every single community” in the city. “My burning ambition for our city, that will guide my mayoralty, is to ensure that all Londoners get the opportunities that my city gave to me,” he said.

Kelsey E. Thomas is Next City’s associate editor.

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