London Assembly takes action on Blackfriars

Regular readers and cyclists in the know will have been following the ongoing saga regarding the re-design of Blackfriars Bridge with interest, and thank you everyone for your support so far.  First we managed to convince Transport for London to 're-engage' on their proposals, then somehow they were able to magic space up out of nowhere to re-instate the cycle lanes they had planned to tear up.  Then, a week ago 100s of cyclists took to the streets telling TfL that their plans still fell short of creating conditions which were inviting cycling for all, and that they must do better.  Now, next Friday the 8th June, supportive London Assembly members will be tabling a motion calling on the Mayor to retain the 20mph zone currently in place on the bridge.

The motion is as follows...

"This Assembly regrets the Mayor's failure to retain the temporary 20mph speed limit on Blackfriars Bridge in the permanent new scheme for the bridge.

We note the recommendation for a 20 mph speed limit on four London bridges in a 2008 Transport for London report, and the recent decision of the Corporation of London to ask officers to bring forward plans for the whole of the City of London to become a 20mph zone, including TfL roads.

We ask the Mayor to reconsider his rejection of a 20mph limit on Blackfriars Bridge, in the interests of the safety of all its users."

Flashride cyclists call for better conditions on Blackfriars Bridge

Support of Assembly Members like Val Shawcross, Jenny Jones and John Biggs has been invaluable throughout the whole Blackfriars saga, and it is so reassuring to know that there is support across many political parties for creating spaces in our city which are balanced, people-friendly and planning for the future growth of cycling in London.  And there can be no doubt that TfL's plans would have introduced the total opposite of this; their backwards-facing 1960s-style motorway-like plans will make one of London's major thoroughfares an anti-people, anti-walking and anti-cycling space.  Leading with Blackfriars, similar plans for Vauxhall Bridge, Parliament Square and other major bridges and junctions in London will follow.  This is why what's been dubbed 'the battle for Blackfriars' is so important.

There is no genuine reason as to why the current 20mph zone on Blackfriars can't be retained - the current speed limit works well on what is one of the only spaces in central London where traffic can really accelerate - this is not the sort of place we ought to be encouraging people to drive faster.

A 20mph zone is not the most ideal provision for inviting cycling but if the Mayor and TfL are insisting on going ahead with their motorway-like scheme with its tiny little bike lanes, it seems it might be the best we can hope for.

Flashride cyclists call for better conditions on Blackfriars Bridge

The London Cycling Campaign are asking us all - cyclists of London, people who walk in London, people who would like to cycle in London - to support the Assembly Members tabling the 20mph motion.  The vote next Friday is likely to be a close-run thing as the Conservative majority are expected to fall in line behind their Mayor and vote against it.  So please ensure you click on this link to the LCC's petition to submit your support.

And why not use Write to Them to get in touch with your local Assembly Member (perhaps target the Coservatives who are expected to vote against?) to tell them why you think 20mph on Blackfriars and the Assembly's support for cycling is essential.

Please, sign up your support on the LCC's page and spread the word!  We've got a week.

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20mph zone and better bike lanes coming for the City of London?

You'll remember earlier in the year I urged you all to respond to the City of London's Local Implementation Plan.  It was a key opportunity to get cycling firmly on the agenda in the Square Mile, and many of you took the time to write in to tell the City to wake up and smell the energy drink - it was time they started to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to providing for cycling.

Holborn Circus, in the City of London

Some 113 people wrote to the City - thank you! - and it would seem the City is prepared to listen.  Cyclists in the City blog reports that's 100 more than the last time the Guildhall consulted on its transport plans, and there were letters supporting cycling from representatives of some of the biggest employers and financial institutions in the Square Mile.  The consultation, having worked its way through various meetings, has now been discussed by the Policy Committee who voted to support the three following amendments to the original LIP document, formulated as a direct consequence of all those letters you sent:

"(1) More ambitious road traffic casualty targets to reduce the number of persons killed or seriously injured to 50% below the 2004–2008 average by 2020 and the total number of persons injured to 30% below the 2004–2008 average by 2020.

(2) A commitment to provide continuous high-quality conditions for cycling on several routes through the City, with a further recommendation that these routes include both the London Cycle Network routes on City Corporation streets and several north–south and east–west quieter back-street routes through the City.

(3) A commitment to formally investigate the desirability of a 20 mph speed limit or 20 mph zone covering the whole of the City, with a further recommendation that the preferred option for such a speed limit or zone incorporate the Transport for London road network in the City."

This is a huge break-through for all of you who took the time to tell the City to step up to the plate, and a potentially game-changing decision for future plans for the City's streets. (Although, of course, saying this in a Local Implementation Plan is no promise of change on the ground in the future - but it's a start!)

But this is good news only in principle...  Whilst the City has shown it is prepared to listen to its own consultation process, the Policy Committee can only recommend the above points be included.  The ultimate decision rests with the Chair (Stuart Fraser) and Deputy Chair of the Policy Committee along with the Transport and Planning Committee.  If (and it is a very big if) they approve the above recommendations, the LIP will then have to be signed off by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who, with his own policies about 'smoothing traffic flow' may well not be keen on the 20mph zone himself (Blackfriars Bridge, anyone?!).

Making space for cycling?

But the first challenge for people on bikes is to get the Chair (Stuart Fraser) and Deputy Chair of the Policy Committee with the Transport and Planning Committee to approve including the 20mph zone, road casualty reductions and continuos cycle lane provisions in the LIP.  If we succeed it will be a great victory - being the financial heart of London and a uniquely important local authority, what happens in the City will hopefully soon be followed by other Boroughs.  But as Cyclists in the City report, some of the gentlemen on the Committee who have been charged with approving these amendments have a somewhat tabloid view of us cyclists.

So, the question is... remaining positive, professional, upbeat and engaging, how do we get these City politicians to say 'Yes' to better conditions for people on foots and people on bikes?  Any and all ideas are welcome!

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Video: How are we Inviting Cycling?

Two weeks ago I was invited to speak at the Kensington & Chelsea Cycling Forum - an annual event for cyclists and cycle campaigners in the borough.  It was fantastic to meet some new faces and catch up with some more familiar ones.

My presentation was about creating conditions that are 'inviting for cycling for all', working on the basis that we've created conditions that are inviting for mass motoring with great success, and just need to replicate those efforts for people on bikes.

Hopefully some of the ideas within it will help to stimulate discussion about what we can all do to bring about more cycling, so I thought I'd share it with you all on here.

Apologies about the terrible sound quality - you'll notice it changes halfway through because I had to use two different sound sources - sorry about that, but hopefully you get the idea!

It was a real pleasure to speak at a borough which is so switched on when it comes to the role of the bike in our city - their town hall has it's own bike hire stand, and this was the Borough which brought us the fantastic RoadHug and Like Riding a Bike projects.

Away from the blog I speak to local groups, companies and organisations on cycling, cycling infrastructure and showing how anyone can build a bike in to their daily life - if you're interested in hosting a similar event please do get in touch with me via my About Me page.

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Thank you, flashmob cyclists!

Well, wasn't that exciting?

In about 24 hours notice, and through the powers of Twitter and Facebook and blogging, about 300 people on bikes from all different backgrounds got together to ride across Blackfriars Bridge and demand that TfL and the Mayor start creating truly safe and comfortable conditions for cyclists; the majority road user on this bridge at peak times.

Cyclists gather on Blackfriars - thanks @CityCycleCop for looking after us!

There were office workers in crisp new shirts on stately uprights getting ready for their day on a City trading floor, cycle couriers in lycra ready for a day running around town.  There were children in Bakfiets and Mums and Dads on bikes.   Old riders, young riders, thin riders, fat riders.  And commuters.  Many, many commuters. All are people who just want to be able to get from A to B in the safest possible way and who are sick of being made to feel like a second class citizen simply because of the means of transport they choose to use.

Yes, TfL have agreed not to rip the cycle lanes out of Blackfriars Bridge northern junction, but they're still proposing we wobble along in tiny lanes alongside acres of fast moving traffic.  They're still proposing to up the speed limit to 30mph, without any kind of statistical justification and despite the fact that the current 20mph model works well.  This is not a vision for a cyclised city, for a civilised city, and if the so-called 'cycle revolution' has been somewhat over-spun till now, now it is clearly time for our city fathers to start putting their money where their mouth is.  The only thing that is truly holding back mass cycling in London is the political will to create the conditions that will make it happen.

A magnificent sight; hundreds of cyclists (and two motorbikes(!)) let their feelings be known; 20 is plenty, and make space for cyclists!

Oh, and you know those fears about shocking traffic congestion that TfL have?  Well, 300 cyclists on a go slow crossing the bridge at rush hour this morning didn't seem to create tail-back armageddon, so I'd suggest it's time TfL got back to the drawing board...

And of course, the whole issue isn't really about cycling at all.  It's about better conditions for people on foot, better conditions for people on bikes, and better conditions for drivers, too.  How many people stuck in cars every morning would like to ride and walk, if only conditions were better, and safer?  It's not about cycling, per se, it's about creating a cityscape that is accessible and equitable for all.  We have to move away from the 1960s 'motorways of tomorrow' road building model, and if we have to drag TfL traffic designers along with us, then so be it.

There's a video here, coverage on London Cyclist blog here, and more on the fabulous Cyclists in the City blog here.  And did I spot some Guardian and Evening Standards journalists amongst our throng? I think perhaps I did...

Thanks, cyclists of London, for making this happen at such short notice and for coming out and showing you care - I was proud to be a London cyclist this morning.  Stay tuned for next steps!

P.S  Apologies to a lot of my Twitter followers who came along and who I didn't have the chance to meet - maybe next time!

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Let the children play!

Further to Wednesday's post about liberating children and getting them out of Mum's taxi, I came across this astonishing video from 'Playing Out'.  Playing Out is a project set up by some Mums in Bristol who wanted to close their street to cars after school, to give their kids room to play.  They share their experiences via their website, and give lots of great hints and tips to parents wanting to do the same, but it is the video about their project which is really inspiring:

Not only are more children than ever before being driven to school, but the CTC's BikeClub - which aims to get young people on two wheels - have found consistently falling levels of cycling amongst children. 

Sometimes we cycle campaigners get a bit over-excited about the purported 'cycling revolution' taking place in the UK at the moment, but to me it seems there's not much to shout about just because a couple of extra middle aged men are riding their bikes more when kids across the country are not riding their bikes at all. 

As Whitney Houston once warbled, they are our future, after all.

Let the children play!  Future cycling levels in the UK depend on it...

Flash ride for Blackfriars Bridge! Tomorrow!

Blackfriars proposals 'not good enough' say cyclists (see below for details of tomorrow's ride):

Following a storm of protest over proposals by Transport for London to strip cycle lanes out of the northern junction of Blackfriars Bridge and to increase the road lanes from two to three for cars, TfL yesterday set out their new proposals for the bridge after they were sent back to the drawing board by cycling campaigners.  TfL's original plans so incensed cyclists that some 600 wrote to complain.

Are the new designs any better?  Decide for yourself...

Space for cycle lanes throughout the junction has been found, as if by magic, but this is to the detriment of space for pedestrians, not cars.  Most importantly the southbound cycle lanes through the junction which were to be removed will now be retained - but this will still produce conditions where cyclists find themselves in a minimum width painted cycle lane alongside 3 lanes of fast moving traffic.

The current speed limit of 20mph will be raised to 30mph, despite the current limit not leading to any noticeable congestion, and despite a 2008 TfL report recommending a 20mph bridge limit to smooth traffic flow.

There will be a new toucan crossing which will allow cyclists coming up the ramp from the Embankment to cross and turn to go southbound across the bridge, which is great.

It's the Blackfriars Bridge cycling charge! Where cyclists far out-number other road users, and still get treated like crap...

Squeezed in with fast moving traffic:

But, as the Cyclists in the City blog point out; "Heading northbound, the good news is that the bike lane will be a fraction wider immediately as you come off the bridge. But then 7,000 of you are crammed into a 1.5m wide space heading north into New Bridge Street and smack into a bus stop. No change there then. 

And if you're heading to Queen Victoria Street you will now have to figure out how to turn right across three lanes of motor traffic with a higher speed limit (is 20mph now, will be 30mph). There's not even an advanced stop line to help you get out the way of HGVs heading this way. It's way more dangerous than it is at the moment. The irony is that the City of London agreed last week to pursue a policy of 20mph across the Square Mile, just as Transport for London decides the exact opposite here."

Second Class Citizens:

And for me, there's the rub.. This is a bridge where cyclists out-number cars at the busiest times of day - and yet cars, the minority, still get priority.  There was outrage at the initial plans because they would have literally ended up killing cyclists.  The new plans are better, but still pretty crap, and will just about help to manage the existing cyclist traffic flow, who will still be expected to battle for space at junctions with buses, taxis and HGVs... but where in these plans is provision for the future?  Isn't Boris Johnson's London supposed to be becoming a cyclised city?  There's no space in these new plans for extra growth in cycling, but plenty of space set aside for cars despite them being a declining user group on the Bridge.  Once again all those bankers, financiers, clerks, designers and others who choose to use a bicycle to get to their jobs in the City are being treated as second class citizens by TfL.  The new plans provide the bare minimum for getting all those cyclists across the junction in just about as uncomfortable conditions as they can.  It's not the sort of place you'd cycle with your kids, or your Nan, which are the true hallmarks of a world class cycling city.

Frankly, I'm appalled.  And where Blackfriars leads, other bridges and junctions will follow.  Are these the kind of conditions cyclists can expect to tolerate after the re-design of Vauxhall Cross and Vauxhall Bridge?  Will the new Parliament Square treat us in a similar way?  When Old Street roundabout finally gets re-designed will this be the sort of 1960s traffic planning pedestrians and people on bikes will have to contend with?

For a major 'world class' metropolitan city which claims to be forward thinking and competitive, it is all a bit of a joke. London Cycling Campaign chief executive Ashok Sinha said, "Transport for London has made some welcome improvements, such as reinstating the southbound cycle lane, but this is still the kind of junction you'd expect on a motorway.
"The mayor says he wants a cyclised city, so he must tell TfL that this kind of lethal junction must become a relic of the past.
“One-third of vehicles using this bridge at peak times are bicycles, and the mayor says he wants this figure to grow – however, the new design from TfL will frustrate this ambition."
“LCC is demanding that the current 20mph speed limit be retained, which would massively reduce road danger if it's properly enforced.
“The choice for cyclists shouldn’t be to navigate through a dangerous junction or take a boat.”
Flash Ride:
And the LCC are REALLY angry about this, so much so that they're calling on all London Cyclists to join them tomorrow morning for a Flash Ride across Blackfriars to show TfL that the safety and comfort of people on bikes MUST be taken seriously.  They're gathering on the bridge on the south side by the Dogget's pub at 08.30AM for a mass ride across the bridge to the City - who of you will join them?

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101 reasons to love cycling in London #31; liberate Mums!

The last time we talked about 101 reasons to love cycling in London, it was all about poo.  So we're washing our mouths out before we press on with reason number 31, because it's all about Mums, and, well, we don't talk like that in front of our mothers, do we?

I was deep in discussion with an architect friend recently about the perils and pitfalls of suburbia and he made a very interesting remark;

"Pity the poor Soccer Mom - she is the ultimate victim of bad design.  Because in suburbia the spaces between A and B are so wide, and the roads between each are so big and fast and full of motorcars, there's no way she'll let her children ride a bike.  Thus, in order to preserve her offspring she is chained to Mum's taxi in order to give her kids the wholesome suburban life she had always dreamed of for them.  Soccer practice, ballet class, after-school club, even play dates at other houses - all must be done by car, with the kids in the back, as the roads grow ever busier, her personal time ever smaller, and all their waist lines wider."

Start 'em young.

It's not something I'd thought of before, and it made me feel hipster-smug for living in the city, but for thousands of ordinary Brits who want a better future for their kids, this is the actual day-to-day reality of living in a world where letting your kids loose in the street is a no-no.

But when conditions are appropriate, and kids are able to lead independent lives making their own way to school, to soccer, to go hang out with friends on their bikes down by the river, not only do you liberate the kids, you liberate Mum, too.  And let's face it, they're worth it.

Giving Mum a break?  It's reason 31 of 101 to love cycling in London!

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Got your burka on? Great, let's go cycling!

Too often when I read about cycling and indeed 'cyclists' in our national newspapers it is with a very heavy heart.  I've lost count of the amount of times I've been compared with the anti-Christ by disparaging tabloid hacks merely because of my choice of personal transport. (And hell, it aint my emissions killing 1000s of people in London every year!)  So imagine my surprise when author and columnist Bella Bathurst wrote a piece in The Guardian recently decrying the use of high-vis jackets by cyclists - not because she hates cyclists (indeed, one of her own books is entirely devoted to bikes and bicycling), but because she hates the jackets some of us where...

"No Jacket Required"

"Up in the hills of Perthshire, about 100 miles north of the point at which the Romans gave up, a friend and I took our bikes and set off along the old drove roads. Coming round the corner beside a hill loch, we saw two other cyclists about half a mile away on the far side. It wasn't difficult to spot them; one of the cyclists was wearing a fluorescent yellow high-visibility jacket. There followed one of those perfect British cycling moments. As we passed, we read each others' thoughts. They were thinking: "Amateurs." We were thinking: "Twats."

In that lovely sunlit setting, the jacket looked as silly and discordant as a car alarm. There is no evidence that high-visibility cycle wear prevents accidents. Reflective strips are useful in the city and lights after dark are essential, but high-vis is just a uniform and the point of uniforms is to make people more anonymous. Instead, high-vis has become our modern cloak of invisibility. Stick on a pair of boots and one of those workman's yellow jackets and you could probably wander straight into the MI6 building without anyone giving you a second glance.

The most common cause of injuries to cyclists is hitting opened car doors and I've lost count of the times I've watched some lunatic human banana riding three inches out from a line of parked cars.

The most successful cyclists are those who ride properly and look like themselves. If you cycle along confidently in a purple-spotted cape with a bunch of leeks poking out of your backpack, motorists are going to notice you, and if they notice you, they'll avoid you.

High-vis kit is a ripoff and an eyesore and no one, at any time, needs anything lighter in the hills of Scotland than an open mind. And – perhaps – a bit of money."

Are attitudes towards cyclists and cycling here in the UK changing?  Is riding a bike becoming normalised?  We can hope...  But how sad that, on quiet byways in rural Scotland, someone felt the need to wear such a jacket in the first place.  Indeed, I've lost count of the amount of times I've seen people pootling along the traffic-free Greenway near my house, with fleuro tabards and jackets on, and wondered who exactly they hope it's going to help spot them?  The birds and the bees?

A sea of high-vis at last year's SkyRide
Effortless everyday and ordinary cycling, Hackney
But my opinion about the people wearing this gear is slightly different to that of Bella's.  I don't think of people who wear this stuff as 'twats'.  I see them as the product of market forces (remember my earlier post about the Public Face of Cycling?) - because let's face it, if there is money to be made in selling fleuro gear, manufacturers will try their hardest to make it seem necessary.  I also think it is very telling that it has become the norm for cyclists to be seen to be protecting themselves from the risk of danger that is wrought upon them by others; it is the 'done thing' to wear your helmet, wear your high-vis kit, cross your fingers and hope for the best.  Which to me points to two things; firstly that even people who are actually out there cycling don't feel especially safe or welcome on the roads, and secondly a systematic failure in equality when sharing the roads is occurring.  If we have to don ridiculous and unpractical clothing merely in order to ward off the unwanted advances of other road users, something is going wrong somewhere... 

You heard it here first folks, high-vis kit is the burka of the cycling world.

P.S If you're at a loose end this evening, why not take a quick ride over Hyde Park to Kensington & Chelsea town hall to hear me speaking on 'Inviting Cycling' - I do promise to try and be entertaining!

Inviting Cycling: Kensington & Chelsea Cycling Forum

On Monday night I'll be speaking at the Kensington & Chelsea Cycling Forum - an annual event which brings together local cyclists, bike campaigners and representatives from the local Council.  It's a great opportunity to meet your fellow west London cyclists and also to highlight any issues that local riders might face on the ground, as well as to hear a couple of speakers.

I'll be giving a talk on "Inviting Cycling; the future of cycle campaigning in London" which will touch on the subjects of how we ended up with the cycling environment we have today, and looking at all the ways both big and small we can go about creating an environment which invites people to cycle. 

The other speaker on the evening is Kathryn King, K&C Council's Road Safety Manager.  Kathryn is a 'real' cyclist - here she is looking very dapper on the Tweed Run last month - and she spearheaded and the inspiring "Like Riding a Bike" exhibition, which we've featured on the blog before.  Though the exhibition is now finished, I do encourage you to come and hear Kathryn speak - it's sure to be an inspiring evening.

Oh, and did I mention that drinks and nibbles are provided?!  Hope to see some of you there!

The Kensington & Chelsea Cyclist's Forum is on the evening of Monday the 16th May from 6PM at Kensington Town Hall (Map).

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Why can't we Copenhagenize London? ibikelondon goes to Denmark...

I realised a long-held ambition over the Easter holidays by returning to Copenhagen, this time with camera in hand and a keen eye on the cycle culture over there and the mechanisms in place to support it.


When I first visited, 5 years ago, I just took it at face value that the Danes were a cycling nation and that's why there were 1000s of cyclists on the streets.  Little did I think that a true cycling culture is made with streets which invite cycling and nurture and treat those who choose to ride.


When you arrive at Central Station you know instantly that you're in a city where cyclists are welcome.  Up in the station ceiling is a large repeater of the weather vane on the roof so that those just arriving know which way the wind is blowing.  Denmark may not have any mountains to speak of, but nestled as it is on the wrong side of the North Sea it has the meanest head winds, though judging by the racks and racks of bicycle parking right outside the station, the weather is no great disincentive to ride, given the right conditions on the roads.


The trains, of course, have generous space set aside for bicycles and even in the city centre stations there are lifts or stair gutters to help you get your bike to and from the platform.  And the integration with public transport doesn't stop there.  Out in the sticks the suburban bus stops have bicycle parking to encourage commuters to 'park and ride', and should anyone get a puncture (it happens, even in CPH!) you need only flag a city taxi and the driver will clip on the double bike rack which is carried as standard and make sure you get home in one piece.



It's clear that when it comes to making bikes fit with city life, the Danes are doing it right.  When works threaten the route of a bike lane - and half of the city if currently being dug up for a new sewer and Metro system - they don't just erect "Cyclists Dismount" signs, but put in temporary bike lanes around the obstruction.  Temporary road signs, or cables and wires aren't put across the bike lanes, but hoisted well clear above them - why would the city want to slow down its cyclists just to spoil a different mode of transport?


There's free air on hand in the Town Hall Square for those who might be feeling a little flat, and a blinking bicycle counter tracks how many cyclists have rolled by that year (in red) and even that day (in blue - 10,301 when I took the below photograph on a weekday afternoon) to remind cyclists they're never alone and don't have to feel like a minority, and to gently remind drivers to watch out, as there's lots of bikes about.


When the city built their own equivalent of the Millennium Bridge for pedestrians across the sparkling harbour, they didn't forget cyclists but tacked a bike lane on the side.  Meanwhile, cars have to drive a mile the other way before they can cross; what clearer way of saying "people on foot and people on bikes come first"?



And everything you've ever read on Copenhagen Cycle Chic about those CPH cyclists is true - the guys and girls of Denmark really do dress for the destination and not the journey.  (And I even got to grace the pages of that great bicycling blog whilst I was there, how cool is that?! See here.)


Of course, it seems that Copenhageners are well dressed anyway so they do look especially chic when out on their bikes, but everyday and ordinary cycling was the order of the day, using bicycles as tools to get from A to B.  We saw a handful of sports cyclists, flashing by in their lycra colours - they were happy to tear up the bike lanes too and with a simple ping of their bells any slower cyclists moved over to allow them to pass.  Here then, was a bicycle network which supported all kinds of cyclists, not just one....

Mums on bikes...


...Dads on bikes...


 ...teenagers on bikes...


...Grans on bikes...


...Cops on bikes...


...who are probably keeping an eye out for people on phones on bikes(!)...


...indeed, a whole cross-section of society gets around on two wheels. 


So what is it that has made all of these people choose a bicycle over any other form of transport?  Is it because the Danes are a great cycling nation?  Hardly, Copenhagen was as car clogged as any other Western city in the middle of the last century.  Is it because the city is flat and easy to navigate?  Not really; the centre is a dense core of mediaeval streets and the headwinds are a killer.  The city is no more flat than London and sprawls into suburbia just as much.  Were Copenhageners won over with cycle training, or cycle parking standards, or free maps of the city?  Perhaps, all these things help of course, but that's just nibbling away at the edges rather than dealing with the biggest issue head on.  It was clear to me, throughout the city, that the important difference between Copenhagen and London is that on the big, busy, main roads (think the South Circular, or High Holborn, or Park Lane, or Vauxhall Bridge), cyclists were kept separate from intimidating traffic and given their own slightly raised and generous bike tracks.  At junctions bicycle traffic lights gave them a few seconds head start, and due to their sheer volume turning cars always waited for bicycles to pass before crossing their lanes.  Pedestrians knew not to stray in to the bike tracks, and likewise the cyclists kept out of the way of traffic.  Of course, segregation isn't everywhere; just as here in London it wasn't necessary to keep slow moving traffic on quiet small streets apart, but where it really mattered and counted towards providing a subjective and statistically safe bicycle network for everyone from kids to pensioners on bikes, the infrastructure was there for them all.


Did I feel ghettoised at all by using this network?  Did it feel like I was relegated to a second-class road user?  Not at all - indeed, cyclists seem to be spoilt by this inviting cycling system.  What's more, I didn't break into one of those "dealing with traffic" adrenaline sweats once during my entire stay.  As my newly-converted-to-cycling partner exclaimed; "I feel safer, happier and more comfortable riding a bike here, on the wrong side of the road, in a foreign country, on a different road network, than I do in my home town.  How wrong is that?"



Remind me again, dear readers, why we haven't chosen to follow the same (cycle) path here in London?  Forgive me for sounding cynical, but I'm yet to hear a truly convincing argument as to why we really can't Copenhagenize London...

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y o u b i k e l o n d o n; Gemma from Clapham Common

Name / age?
Gemma, and I'm 27
Where do you live / ride to?
I live in Clapham Common and ride to Kingston, along the CS7 and then I cut across.
What do you ride?
What is it? Um, it's a Specialized
Helmet or no helmet?
What's your primary reason for cycling in London?
To keep fit

Least favourite aspect of cycling?
White van drivers, but as a cyclist you just have to be aware of them and cycle in a comfortable position rather than blame them for having access to the road.
Most favourite aspect of cycling?
Freedom!  It gives you independence and you're always getting fit whilst riding around rather than being stuck on a train.  And it's cheap as well!
When you're out riding, what do you never leave the house without?
It's not lights, 'cos I left those at home today...  It's my helmet, I always take it with me, that and this rather cute bell.
What is that, a ladybird?!
It's a sexy, cute ladybird bicycle bell!
But it's orange...
..It's an orange ladybird bicycle bell!  I know, it's kind of a bit wrong.
And does it fend off the white van drivers?
No, not really, maybe I need a much bigger one, or one of those big bad air horns.
How many locks do you carry and have you ever had a bicycle stolen?
One, and none, but I am quite careful about where I leave my bike.  I'm very anal about that; indoors at home and locked indoors at work.
What advice would you give to an aspiring cyclist thinking of riding in London for the very first time?
Just go for it!  Absolutely just go for it, find a buddy who does cycle in London so they can go with you at first and empower you to start cycling alone, because I know a lot of people are afraid of traffic and the roads, just find a mate or find an instructor to do it with you a couple of times and basically cycling is just like any other thing - anyone can do it, and it's just about empowering people to be confident and to learn to love it again just like they did as a child - everyone used to cycle as kids there's no reason why they can't again!
If you were Mayor for the day, what would you do to improve the lot of the London cyclist?
I'd make the Cycle 'Super' Highways as important as roads, like cycle motorways so that people do get out of their cars, and people would get on their bikes again.  I'd separate the cars from the cycle routes and give them lots and lots more space - cycling for everyone!

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Street Talks 3; Harry Rutter

The last Street Talk, about cycling infrastructure, was really popular and there was some great debate in the pub. (Wait? You don't know what Street Talks are yet? Where have you been?!  Read on here, dear readers)  If you didn't make it to the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain's presentation, you can listen again here.

The next Street Talk is tomorrow night, Wednesday 4th May, and after the excess of Easter and the Royal weekends, the timing is eerily appropriate.  If you had to loosen a belt notch at your street party, or had one Easter egg too many, you'll be able to take solace in the subject matter...

Too often in the UK whenever we hear about obesity it is through sensationalist headlines about how gluttons eat too much, or crazed fatties just can't help themselves when the cake trolley passes...  But if as a population we are all getting fatter, does that mean we are all of us gluttons and greedy, or is something else afoot?

Dr Harry Rutter is director of the National Obesity Survey and will talk about how the very cities we live in could be making us fatter, and fatter by design.  Never has active travel, such as walking and cycling, been so important...

The joy of Street Talks is that anyone can come along, from professionals to those with just a passing interest, and there's a warm friendy atmosphere.  The beer and food, if the subject matter doesn't put you off, is pretty good too.

All the details are on the Movement for Liveable London's website.

See some of you there!  Street Talks takes place in the upstairs bar at the Yorkshire Grey on Theobald's Road - food is available from 6PM, with the talk at 7PM.

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