Get ready to vote on LCC's 2012 Mayoral policy

Come July 2012 we will all be voting for a new Mayor of London. Will Boris Johnson be returned for a second term, or will seasoned hand Ken Livingstone be swept back in to power?  And what of the Green's Jenny Jones and the as yet un-named Liberal Democrat candidate?

Over at London Cycling Campaign they are already gearing up for the 2012 election and want all of its members to get involved.  Following their Web 2.0 Blackfriars Bridge photo petition (which you can still contribute to, here), they are turning to the internet again to find out what their members - all 12,000 of them - want the LCC to lobby the prospective Mayoral candidates for.

I really welcome this change in tact at the cycling campaign - it was only last October that I was seriously questioning whether the LCC were pro-cycle lanes or not, so mysterious and dogmatically vehicular and based on endurace, as oppose to invitation, did their campaigning stance appear to be.  Since then they seem to be improving significantly; their new Chief Executive Ashok Sinha has come on board, they moved quickly on the Blackfriars Bridge issue, they weren't afraid to help organise the Blackfriars 'flashride' at very short notice, and they've even made their position on the great segregation debate clear...  In the latest issue of London Cyclist magazine Dr Sinha writes "Quite correctly our policy is that segregated cycle tracks are the right solution in select circumstances.  But because so much of our work focuses on individual junctions, cycle training for kids, funding levels etc, we rarely mention the S-word in practice.  This is of course false, and it's perfectly possible to be clearer in expressing ourselves without abjuring our belief that a complex mix of solutions is needed London-wide.  So, for example, let's state right now that places like Stratford High Street, the Victoria Embankment, Lambeth Palace Road and several other 'urban motorways' are (at least in part) prime candidates for segregated facilities, as part of a wider package of measures." 

I've always agreed that we need things like cycle training, cycle parking standards and all the rest of it, but that asking for those alone without significant segregation on the key busiest routes was never going to achieve much; Dr Sinha's statement is the clearest and most explicit explanation of the LCC's position on segregated cycle facilities to date; and I for one welcome it.

Theobald's Road, Clerkenwell.  Not exactly idyllic conditions for cycling in London by all

And now, the LCC is keen to ensure that it reflects the campaigning priorities of all of its members, and not just those who are slogging away on it's campaign committees.  In preparation for the 2012 election, they want to know exactly what their members want them to be pushing the prospective Mayoral candidates for.  Every paid up member is being sent an email from online vote register DemoChoice (do check your spam inbox for a note saying "You are invited to vote in a DemoChoice Poll", that's where mine ended up).  Members are being given the following options, one of which they must chose for the LCC to push for:

Start Right: getting 100,000 children cycling regularly to school
Love thy Neighbourhood: double the number of local journeys made by bike

Go Dutch: clear space for cycling on main roads in every borough

Unwind: replace the 10 worst gyratories with cycle-friendly junctions

Now, I think 100,000 kids cycling to school would be a marvellous thing, but we all know how politicians love to sign up to targets to get elected and then later quietly drop them.  And besides, how will we convince 200,000 parents that letting their little darlings cycle in current conditions is a good idea anyway?

Unwinding gyratories is indeed an urgent priority, however I don't like to think of this as being just a "bike only" issue; work to rid London of it's 1960's legacy of 4 lane roundabouts and labrynthian one way systems should be a joint effort by cyclists, pedestrians, bus users, local residents, local businesses and others.

More journeys in local neighbourhoods would be a wonderful thing, but here's the rub: if you want lots of people to use bikes a lot more they'll need to be able to make journeys between neighbourhoods (as oppose to just pootling in circles) and to do that, more often than not, they'll have to use those big scary roads where segregation is so important if we want the majority of people to feel safe and comfortable enough to be invited to cycle.

Copenhagen's own 'cycle superhighways', safe, direct, comfortable and accessible by all.

And so, for me at least, there can only be one choice worth really voting for out of all of these;  high quality, Dutch-style seperated infrastructure on the big and terrifying roads will help unblock gyratories, encourage more journeys between A and B, have a spill-over effect of more journeys on the quiter roads within neighbourhoods and indeed create conditions which might actually convince parents to let their children ride to school.  Nearly every single old fashioned and ill-informed myth about proper cycle tracks has been blown out of the water by the rise of the internet (hat tip to Manchester Cycling amongst many many many others), and we only need look over the North Sea to see that it works.  And of course it was the Dutch who first came up with 20mph zones and shared space and all those other little interventions for the smaller roads to ensure a seemlessly comfortable door to door journey.

I'm voting "Go Dutch" as I believe that this is the only option that can bring about mass cycling in London, and that it is an intervention that is sorely overdue, but whatever you believe do ensure you have your say and vote!

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Adam said...

Absolutely agree.

Why is my daughter able to cycle to school from Hatfield to Welwyn Garden City? Because there is a cycle path from our estate along side the main road right up to her school with Toucans at every major junction.

The consequence is something like 130 or so kids out of the 800 cycle to school each day.

Other local schools have nothing like the cycling as they have no cycle lanes.

All backed up by the research by David Horton, see the Save our cities doc on



Anonymous said...

There is now a reason to belong to the LCC.

I have joined and will be voting for "Go Dutch" too.


ibikelondon said...

@Adam I couldn't agree more - you've banged the nail on the head as to why I think this policy is the only workable and indeed most important one.

@Peter I'm sure the top bods at LCC would be interested to hear your feedback - they're trying to double their membership over their next 12 months. Perhaps with policies like this they actually will?