Posts Tagged ‘bicycle’

London — By Andrea Kirkby on November 11, 2009 at 12:11 pm
Filed under: bicycle, featuredarticle

Cycle-friendly plans for London

I don’t like London Mayor Boris Johnson all that much – but one thing I really do like about him is his commitment to two-wheeled transport. He rides a bike to work, he promotes bikes ceaselessly, and he’s planning to spend serious money on cycle lanes (though I hope they will be better than some of those illustrated in the Guardian’s amusing ‘Crap cycle lanes‘ photo feature).


There are now one million Londoners using their bikes- and half a million cycle journeys every single day (I think we can guess a few of these Londoners are weekend cyclists). That’s doubled since 2000 – London definitely has become a much bike-friendlier place.

But cyclists are still getting killed on the roads – 15 were killed, and 430 seriously injured, in 2008. Fatal accidents to cyclists have fallen 20% since the mid 1990s but obviously, there’s still a lot of work to do.

One of the most helpful things individuals can do is get out there on your bike. The more bikes there are on the road, the more likely drivers are to be looking out for them, and the less likely you are to hear ’sorry mate I didn’t see you’. It’s a known network effect – the more bikes, the safer.

But Transport for London has also announced a series of measures to make the roads safer for bikes. Half the accidents that seriously hurt cyclists involve goods vehicles, particularly heavy trucks – so TfL has started a series of training courses, which Crossrail, for example, will be making compulsory for all the drivers who work on its construction sites.

TfL is also being given funds for more toucan crossings (like pelican crossings, but for bikes as well as pedestrians), more off-road cycle tracks, and a dedicated programme to address bike-accident blackspots in the capital.

TfL will also be promoting the message ’share the road’ – something that some of the capital’s less tolerant cyclists, as well as its drivers, should remember. (In case you wonder, I sit firmly on the fence here as a driver who also bikes. I biked from Stoke Newington into the City for five years – and I was very grateful for the cycle lanes that led through the back roads, instead of having to compete with traffic on the main drag. Having nearly squashed a bike rider during my driving test, I’m also aware that drivers need to keep a good lookout. Oh yes, during my *first* driving test – I failed that one!)

The one thing that is missing, though, is a link to tourism. I’ve hugely enjoyed biking around Belgian cities, and along French canals – even taking a bike out across the oasis at Skoura in southern Morocco. But London doesn’t really seem to sell the attractions of cycling to visitors – which is a real pity. Taking a spin around the parks, or up the Lea Valley, is a really delightful way to see London – why don’t our railway stations have bike rental racks outside? I suppose this will have to wait till the Velib-style rental bike scheme gets going…

Photo by Tony the Misfit on flickr – follow the link for interesting stuff about Queen’s song, ‘I want to ride my bicycle’

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