Tuesday, 3 September 2013

10,000 Londoners take to their bikes and bring Parliament Square to a stand-still but Boris Johnson *still* doesn't get the message.

Don't misunderstand me, I feel Boris Johnson has done a lot for London cycling, particularly in raising it's profile as a viable method of transport that anyone can, and should, use. However, his response to Nick Ferrari's questions during today's LBC Radio phone-in were deeply worrying. When asked about yesterday's London Cycling Campaign #Space4Cycling Protest Ride, the Mayor said that those Londoners taking part (all 10,000 of them) were unreasonably trying to get their own dedicated road space which simply wasn't feasible in London (where everyone knows that 95% of road space must at all costs be dedicated to motor traffic otherwise you're just being selfish).

These Londoners aren't happy sharing the road with HGVs. They want dedicated space for cycling. Boris Johnson needs to embrace this... because they're all going to vote...
The London mayor was talking absolute rubbish. It's completely legitimate not to want to share a 'general traffic lane' while defenceless on a bike with an HGV or a Chelsea Tractor going at 30MPH+. Moreover, there is plenty of space in London for the reallocation of road space, as Boris himself has previously admitted (think Euston Road, Cromwell Road, Park Lane, Vauxhall Bridge Road, etc).

Today on LBC Radio, Boris advocated 'share-the-road', 'mutual-respect', 'everyone-being-more-aware' crap instead, and suggested this was the real solution. Not dedicated space for segregated cycle lanes that didn't mix motor traffic with those on bikes. That would just be plain silly.

This public position from the Mayor of London is incredibly idiotic and demands another Protest Ride to actually bring the message home to him that Londoners are not happy sharing lanes with drivers that kill them every month (14 Londoners were killed while cycling in 2012), and seriously injure them almost twice day (657 Londoners were seriously injured while cycling from A to B in our Olympic year). Humans are not perfect. Therefore drivers are not perfect. Therefore it's idiotic to mix steel motor traffic with humans sitting on bicycles in 'general traffic lanes'. Over 100 MPs recognised this last night when they unanimously passed the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report (which includes segregation on main roads). Boris Johnson needs to recognise this.

By all accounts yesterday's #Space4Cycling Protest Ride was a huge success. The weather may have helped...
What is also interesting is that the Mayor's response to the Protest Ride differs completely from that of Andrew Gilligan, London's Cycling Commissioner. What Gilligan essentially said yesterday was that the Mayor's office are already pursuing a policy of segregation (i.e. with the Cycle Superhighway 2 extension in Stratford). The problem with this is that segregating one road in Stratford is not going to make it safe to cycle for the 8 million Londoners who don't live in Stratford. We need the Mayoralty to begin implementing immediate changes (i.e. 20MPH limits, point-closures to remove through-traffic, temporary cycle lanes using cones/bollards) all over London.

However, at least Gilligan is explicitly accepting that segregation and dedicated space for cycling is the way forward for London. His boss, Boris Johnson, isn't. He's still wittering on about 'share-the-road' twaddle, even after 10,000 Londoners in Parliament Square and over 100 MPs in the House of Commons unanimously called yesterday for full segregation of major roads in London, as well as all over the UK (for those interested there is a BBC recording of the entire 4 hour Great Britain Cycling Commons debate available from here).

I recommend another Protest Ride along the roads outside Boris Johnson's house to ram the message home.

Also, a massive well-done and thank you to everyone at the London Cycling Campaign for organising such a well-attended, successful, and trouble-free Protest Ride yesterday evening.

Please note: 10,000 is my personal estimate of the amount of riders who took part yesterday having watched the procession from the front to back.