Things are looking positive

Hundreds if not thousands of cyclists turned up to cycle around the streets of London to show support for The Times Cycle Safe campaign on the eve of the parliamentary debate. A debate which saw the House of Commons rather empty.

I would like to start of by saying thank you to the usual suspects, Mark of i b i k e l o n d o n, Danny of Cyclists in the City and of course the London Cycling Campaign for organising another great protest ride, which despite the forecasted weather, had plenty of cyclists attending. And whilst there where a few niggles with the police and how the pack was being split up, thank you to them for helping marshal the event and keeping everyone safe.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to cycle this event due to a knee injury, instead I was walking on foot with my camera in hand taking photos. A few of those photos can be seen on flickr. The turnout was certainly huge, I’ve heard numerous numbers thrown around, and as a bystander, I can certainly say it was above 1,000 cyclists. Watching the cyclists coming over westminster bridge was just amazing, the line went on for ages!

This was of course on the eve of the parliamentary debate about cycling safety. The Times campaign has certainly set an impressive chain of events into motion as we see the House of Commons almost empty yesterday afternoon. This is an achievement that no other cycling campaign has managed in recent years.

So are things looking positive? Well a great turn out from cyclists and a good turn out by MP’s is certainly a positive, our trusty Prime Minister David (not a cyclist) Cameron may have just thrown a few bad eggs. Promising a pitiful amount of money for building new cycle routes across the country (less in fact than what was spent on the current Cycle Superhighways, and we know how good they are). It is of course a start.

At the end of Wednesdays ride, Mark of i b i k e l o n d o n announced a new date to keep clear in our diaries, Saturday the 28th of April, for another mass ride, where hopefully even more cyclists will turn out for our biggest gathering to date.


A riders view of the ride. Thanks to Arasllopp for this

What are we missing?

The Times #cyclesafe campaign has taken off massively over the past weeks. With support from sporting stars, politicians, huge companies and thousands of people.

The campaign raises similar points to other campaigns, touching on topics such as trixie mirrors, issues with large vehicles, re-design of junctions and speed limits. The difference so far is that it has been coming from a huge newspaper and not from a cycling lobby.

But are we missing something?

The one thing missing is a way to change road user attitude. I see the Times mention training of drivers and cyclists and to include a cycling specific section in the driving test. Whilst yes this would be a good measure, it doesn’t solve the millions of drivers we already have on our roads who are ‘bad’ drivers.

So what can we do? Essentially we need better policing on the roads. At present people are allowed to get away with bad driving if nobody in authority is watching and if no collision occurs. Because they aren’t brought up on it, this leads to bad driving become a habit and essentially normal driving.

Speeding is bad driving

As Croydon Council recently put on a sign around the corner from me. ‘Speeding is bad driving’. They put this on a road which is well-known for speeding road users. It’s nice and wide, with a pedestrian footpath on only one side which is also separated from the main carriage way by traffic islands and another small roadway. So people feel like it is OK to speed. In my +10 years of using this road, as a cyclist, driver and passenger, I’ve not once seen a police vehicle on it that was going after speeding drivers.

Usually, unless there is a fatal or serious road collision due to a speeding vehicle, local authorities will not put in speed cameras, and even if they do, they are of the type which are static, highly visible and only slow drivers down for a few meters. Only a few years ago hundreds if not thousands of speed cameras were turned off around the country because they cost too much to run.

Adding brand new cycling facilities is all well and good but they are useless if they aren’t enforced by the police or if all road users aren’t educated about them. We can see an example of poor implementation, enforcement and education by looking at advanced stop lines. A large proportion of ASL’s have vehicles in them which shouldn’t, which just makes the whole reason for them pointless.

It took years to make drink driving unacceptable, fines and points is not enough to deter people from doing something. Driving bans are much more effective. Driving whilst on the phone is just as dangerous as driving whilst over the drink drive limit, yet the penalties are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum which makes driving on the phone appear to be less dangerous and more socially acceptable, which it shouldn’t be.

We obviously need to change certain things to make the road network safer for all road users but I think a big aspect we are missing in current campaigning is increased enforcement of road users, continued education throughout driving ‘career’ and changing the underlying attitude that British road users have.

The Times – Save our Cyclists

Yesterday The Times launched a campaign to make cycling in cities across England safer after one of the Times’ reports was struck by a lorry only yards away from her workplace in November last year, she has been a comma since.

I was asked to give my opinion on current road conditions for cyclists, and whilst I think the roads are a safe place, there is obviously an issue on our roads.

In the last quarter of 2011 we saw an 8% rise in cycling deaths or serious injuries in London over 2010’s last quarter whilst deaths and serious injuries of car drivers, motorcyclist’s and pedestrians continued to fall.

Compare Paris to London, a city which has 3,000,000 more people than us and is known for its crazy drivers. How many cycling related deaths where there in 2011?

The bike accident is not what concerns us most and in 2011, there were no death

Source >

There where 0 cycling deaths in Paris throughout 2011, where as in London, there where 16 deaths and many more seriously injured. Why do we allow these deaths to continue? It seems that the public think these sorts of deaths are acceptable, nothing happens to make cyclists safer on the roads!

In the past decade, cyclists killed on our roads outnumber servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by a factor of two.

Any sort of death of a person is a tragic incident, just think about how you would feel if a family member was suddenly no longer with you! We can do something about deaths on our roads, make them safer and all road users will have the benefit of being able to travel without the thought of it being there last.

The Times raise an 8 point manifesto of things they want changed, and whilst I don’t agree that every point is going to make a difference, they are certainly pointing in the right direction and having such a large newspaper behind us is a great thing.

In the first day of the campaign more than 5,000 people pledged their support with more than 300 writing to their MP’s and many more showing support on twitter.

If Chicago can do it, why can’t we?

Chicago have installed a protected bike lane that offers plenty of space to cyclists, keeps them visible and safe and it has seen a two-fold in the modal share.

TFL are currently reviewing the superhighways, something which has been marketed as super and safe to use. Unfortunately two cyclists have found out that they aren’t safer than other London roads, RIP.

So Chicago has taken space away from general traffic and given it to cyclists, installing wide cycle lanes, with buffer zones and flexible bollards. The space for cyclists is clearly laid out and is ‘protected’ from other traffic. Obviously a vehicle can go straight through one of those bollards and plough through a bunch of cyclists but that can happen at all kinds of cycling infrastructure. I would say that it was less likely to happen here.

The superhighways that TFL have installed on 4 routes in London are generally a bit of paint, sections of them are on quite back roads or on specific shared use cycle paths and the blue paint (faded in some areas) does clearly show the space that is allocated to cyclists. 90% of the time this space is only wide enough for one cyclist (not taking into account bus lanes) and is very rarely segregated from the general traffic. Watch the video below to see just how close the traffic can get to a cyclist in these blue lanes.

I don’t think installing similar lanes all the way along the superhighway routes is practical, there are certainly places which are quieter and don’t have the space for such facilities (sections of CS3 spring to mind). Sections such as alongside Clapham common still have 2 general traffic lanes with a popular left hook spot. At present motorists rush past as many cyclists as possible and then slow down to take the left turn which can be very dangerous.

Why can’t we implement similar lanes?

TFL Getting People to Cycle and Walk

Along with Recyclebank, TFL are planning a scheme where people will get rewards and discounts for making journeys in London on foot or by bicycle.

The idea is to get more people to walk and cycle in the capital to reduce pollution, boost fitness and ease congestion. Users will collect points for every journey they make and will be redeemable against a range of offers and discounts.

Launch is expected to take place in Spring 2012 and could be a massive hit with people who already walk and cycle in London. It is designed to work with your phone and GPS transmitter, with an app that logs your journey and rewards you from that.

Read More >

I could personally see this useful, depending on the amount of points you get per journey, it could potentially mean free lunches at Marks & Spencer or at least reduced costs.

This announcement comes only days after +2,000 cyclists and pedestrians took to Blackfriars Bridge in protest against TFL for not putting more thought into vulnerable road users in their re-designed Blackfriars Bridge.

It gives two pictures, one side TFL want to make the traffic flow for motorised vehicles as quick as possible but on the other side they want to get people out of their cars and onto the streets which they have just put fast-moving and dangerous traffic next to.

Blackfriars Bridge Protest

It was a great turnout, I suspect that near 1,000 cyclists joined in on a peaceful protest across the bridge and back again that was well marshalled by the police.

It was great to not only see some many cyclists join together to protest but also to see so many cyclists with video cameras. So many I didn’t know and so many I didn’t get to talk to, obviously us usual suspects met up afterwards and had a good chat and a little bicycle ride🙂

Lets cross our fingers that TFL listen to us this time and take a real look at the possibilities of the junction and the surrounding area. As the LCC published a very good looking plan the other day, see if you can spot the difference between TFL’s and LCC’s plan.

Heres my POV of the even in super fast forward

And some photos

7 Days to go – Blackfriars Bridge 12th of October

Only 7 days until the LCC’s planned ride takes place at 6pm on Blackfriars Bridge.

Credits to Ealing Cycling Campaign

This isn’t just about Blackfriars Bridge anymore, TFL aren’t listening to vulnerable road users. We can’t let them ignore us, if they go ahead with the current plans then who knows what cycling will be like for Londoners in the future!

Hundreds have already pledged to the LCC that they will attend, lets hope that hundreds more turn up on the evening.

Cycle Video Day


Cycle Video Day 10th of October 2011

Magnatom has recently announced an idea called Cycle Video Day.

The basic idea is to get as many Video Camera Cyclists to submit some footage that was taken on that day, showing what ever they wanted, them being cut up, left hooked or passing loads of standstill traffic as they go about their travels. The main idea is to show our numbers!

I know loads of people who know about my self or a few other guys that film their cycle journeys. But in reality there are loads, across the world I know of nearly 400 but there are hundreds more who I have yet to discover or who don’t post online.

I’m already having ideas about what I want to try to do. With plenty of Londoners using cameras, I would like to try to get a few of us together and all do a short ride with each other. It would be great to see each other from different perspectives.

Magnatom has asked for anyone to input in the general ideas pot. There is nothing set in stone about how this is going to work or where this is going to do. All that is set is the date. If you want to give some input, head over to his blog and comment on one of the Cycle Video Day posts.

Blackfriars Bridge October 12th!


The LCC sent out a newsletter yesterday with information about the next Blackfriars bridge flashride. Giving us plenty of warning about the next date to try and attract as many cyclists as possible. It’s important that we show up in numbers to show just how important it is.

TFL has shown their true intentions very clearly, they are car centric, in a city which already has awful congestion problems and pollution problems. They want people to get as quickly as possible from A to B whilst they are in their cars. This in turn puts cyclists and pedestrians in danger as they increase the speed limit and decrease the space we have to use.

It’s time for action, cyclists in the city and ibikeslondon have been pushing this forward for quite some time, but they and the rest of us need help from everyone to protest against this, even if don’t use this bridge. It is important to come along and add to the protest, if TFL win this ‘war’ then who knows what they will do to us next!

Show your support on the LCC page and by turning on Blackfriars bridge on Wednesday the 12th of October at 5.45pm.