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.

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.

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.

FTA Cycling Code

The Freight Transport Associate recently released a Cycling Code. It’s aim is to improve the safety of cyclists on the roads and reduce collisions between commercial vehicles and cyclists.

The code is well worth reading, and can be done so here.
Here are a few interesting tips for cyclists and drivers take from the code.

Top tips for cyclists

1 Know the law and observe it
The law is clear that as road users, cyclists are bound by all the same rules as motorised vehicles.Whether this relates to alcohol, roadworthiness or traffic signals, failure to observe the law puts both cyclists and other road users in harm’s way.

2 Leave that lorry alone
Never undertake a lorry on the left, especially if you are at a junction. Don’t do this even if there is a cycle lane. Remember if you cycle on the left-hand side of a lorry you are in the driver’s blind spot and if the lorry turns, you will have no escape. It is difficult for drivers of large vehicles to see you, so don’t hide by the side of the vehicle.

3 Make eye contact
Make eye contact with other road users, particularly at a junction, coming out of side roads and at roundabouts; this may tell you if the driver has seen you or not.

4 Look behind you
Regularly look over your shoulders to see what is happening all around you. Check behind you when moving away from the kerb, before you signal to manoeuvre and at regular intervals to communicate with other road users.

5 Look ahead
Look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, potholes and parked vehicles, so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them. Planning ahead helps you to be pre- pared for junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights.

6 Ride on the road, not the gutter!
Your road position should not be less than one metre from the kerb and should be further out if it is not safe for a vehicle to pass. If someone does pass you inconsiderately then you have more room to get out of harm’s way. Keeping away from the gutter will enable drivers to see you and also help you miss the drain covers and debris on the side of the road too.Take extra care to hold your position near road humps and other traffic- calming features.

7 Don’t be floored by car doors
Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened into your path.

8 Make your intentions clear
Make your signal and manoeuvre well in advance, and only when it is safe to do so. Keep your position in your lane so vehicles cannot undertake closely on your left.

9 Cover your brakes
Keep your hands on your brake levers, so that you are ready to use them.Always use both brakes at the same time.Take extra care when it is wet or icy.

10 Lights
By law, when it is dark or there is bad visibility you must have lights on the front and rear of your bike.Always carry spare small lights in case your main lights are not working.

11 Cycle training
If you are a beginner or even if you are an experienced cyclist, you can benefit from an adult cycle training session. Find out more about cycling safely in today’s road conditions by contact- ing your local instructor at

12 Be seen
Make sure you wear hi-visibility clothing, especially when the light is poor. Remember – bright, light clothes in daytime and reflec- tive material at night.

13 Stay sober
Don’t ride when you’ve had drink or drugs. Riding a bike under the influence of alcohol or drugs is just as serious and dangerous as if you were driving a car.

14 Listen
Make sure you can hear the traffic around you – don’t listen to music. Many vehicles have warnings to tell you they’re turning left – you won’t hear them if you’re plugged in.

15 Remember that large vehicles move to the right before turning left

Top tips for drivers

1 Respect other road users
Remember that cyclists are road users too and have the same rights as motorised vehicles. Make sure you know the speed limits and observe them – remember that the correct speed may be much lower than the legal limit.

2 Always check the field of view of your mirrors as part of the daily walk around check, or if the mirrors are dislodged during the shift Vehicles now have many mirrors and it is easy for these to be dislodged. Consider using floor mats to map out the correct area that mirrors should be covering – paint them at the exit gate.

3 ‘Give a metre’ or hold back until there’s room
Many roads have too little space for cyclists and hgvs at the same time. If an hgv cannot give a cyclist at least a metre’s clearance then they should hold back. Drivers should bear in mind that cyclists are trained not to ride too close to the kerb.The Highway Code advises that you should give at least as much room as when overtaking a car.

4 Plan journeys to avoid cycle superhighways at peak times
The cycle superhighways are intended to show cyclists – both regular and occasional – how best to get from the suburbs into central London and back. Drivers should be aware that where they see the blue cycle superhighway path there are likely to be more cyclists than normal – where possible drivers should avoid these routes at peak times, ie between 07:00 and 09:00 and between 16:00 and 18:00. Operators should work with their customers to develop delivery and serving plans or construction logistics plans to minimise peak-time journeys.

5 Look over the dash
There have been fatalities that arose because the cyclist wrongly assumed that the driver had seen them. Drivers should always take a moment to look to the front of the vehicle, even if they have a class VI mirror.

6 Concentrate
Drivers – focus on driving – do not use hand-held phones and minimise use of hands-free equipment.

7 Always indicate
Always use your indicators even if you don’t think there’s anyone there and indicate early, ie when cyclists are still behind you and most able to see your indicators.

Certainly some good pointers there for all road users. But will this code affect how safe the roads are? Who knows, at present it’s only a document.

Cycle Lanes of Croydon

As I recently blogged, Croydon – A cycling borough, Croydon will be receiving extra funding from the mayor to improve cycling in the borough. I’ve heard that this funding may well be coming to the council over a 3 year period which is going to equate to roughly £150,000 to spend per year on cycling.

The aim of the money is to make Croydon (and other boroughs that receive money) a cycling town. A place where people start to cycle instead of using other forms of transport but to achieve this Croydon Council will need to spend the money wisely on facilities and projects that will be beneficial to cycling and not harm it.

Over the next few months I will be making video logs of current cycle facilities that Croydon has and any new work which takes place. It seems from experience that any new facilities put in are done so in small segments, and are of no benefit to cyclists.

For example:

Said videos will be included in a youtube playlist found here.

Edit: Small spelling mistake🙂

Cyclists on the Bridge

Picture this, it’s 8.30am on Friday the 20th of May and the pavement on the south to north bound side of the bridge is full of cyclists. Cyclists which were called to this location by the LCC and campaigners less than 24 hours ago.

The result was nearly 300 cyclists cycling over the bridge each way as slow as possible. By my Garmin device, we travelled 0.83 miles in 14 minutes and 30 seconds. That gives us an average speed of 3.4mph.

We stopped outside of the TFL building on Blackfriars road, only a stones throw away from the bridge, to voice our concerns to them in person but they didn’t want to talk. I suspect because we caught them off guard, I heard that they didn’t even know we where coming.

All in all it was a good ride and we only had a few minor issues with motorcyclist that where in a rush to get to somewhere. Below is a 3x speed video i recorded.

Something that is hard to make clear, is why we did this.

TFL have rejected several plans which would have suited many people’s needs and instead have tried to push plans through that favour the motorist and fast-moving, dangerous traffic.

The upgrade to Blackfriars station is going to produce a huge increase in pedestrians that are using the area. But in TFL’s plans, pedestrians and not being looked out for, the speed limit of cars is being increased and space is being taken away from pedestrians and cyclists to allow another lane for vehicles. Which resembles a motorway.

Cyclists we will also be affected, our cycle lanes will be smaller and we will have faster traffic moving around us. If you choose to turn right at the north side of the bridge then you will have to cross 3 lanes of traffic which is moving at 30 mph (well that is the limit).

So the reason we grouped together as cyclists, bloggers, cycling groups, road users and people of the city is to voice our concern over the plans to put vulnerable road users at the bottom and allow faster and more dangerous vehicles to have the priority.

We are meant to be going through a cycling revolution in London but as anyone that knows, it was not Boris that came up with or laid the initial plans for the Cycle Superhighways or the Cycle Hire Scheme. The two leading schemes of the revolution. It seems that the cycling revolution can only progress if motorists are not hindered.

I must say a big thanks to the London Cycling Campaign, Mark at i bike london, Danny at Cyclists in the City and the MET Cycle Task Force.

LCC, Mark and Danny have provided us with fantastic information and detailed descriptions about the plans and potential issues with the designs for Blackfriars bridge. And they helped organise and publish the plans for this group ride. Without them, where would we be?

And a big thanks to the MET Cycle Task Force. An ever-growing group of officers that watched over our event and spoke to a few impatient motorcyclist. They are working hard to prevent and catch bicycle thieves and make the roads of London a safe place for any mode of transport to use. I even got my bicycle security marked after the event, a big thanks again for that🙂

[UPDATES] Missed the time in the post, time added back in.