Since Danny from Cyclists in the City blog and I first announced our intention to ride to Transport for London's 10 most dangerous junctions for cyclists we've been overwhelmed by the response. Not only have lots of you said that you will be there on the day but people have come forward to volunteer as marshals, to help plan the route, to take photos on the day and to carry a puncture repair kit (and know how to use it), just in case. It's all been a little overwhelming!
No room for safe space for bicycles on the Elephant and Castle...
The idea stemmed from a presentation that Transport for London made to the GLA about the changes currently being implemented on the northern junction of Blackfriars Bridge. Their designs - they argued - were not atypical of many other London junctions which they believed "worked well for cyclists". 2,500 cyclists who use these junctions every day clearly believed otherwise when they took to the bridge in protest.
TfL recently revealed which are London's 10 most dangerous junctions for cyclists; measured by volume of cyclists killed or seriously injured. The initial idea of our "top 10" ride was to see these places for ourselves, to record them, look at conditions on the ground and to experience what it feels like to be a vulnerable road user in these locations which supposedly "work well for cyclists".
Would you ride around Hyde Park corner on a bakfiets full of kids?
But people who have been living locally to some of these junctions and campaigning to have them changed for many years got in touch with us; over and over again they'd been told that making these dangerous, unpleasant corners of London more people friendly was just not possible because it would disrupt the "smooth flow of traffic". Some money has been spent on little cycling signs, or a splash of paint here or there, but nothing has been done to reduce the exposure to the source of danger. It's become clear that Transport for London has been putting vehicle journey times over and above the safety of pedestrians and cyclists all across London. It's not just Blackfriars, it's not just the Elephant and Castle, it's our entire city.
Danny, from Cyclists in the City, said: "It's abhorrent that in the 21st century we have junctions which are so poorly designed and aimed solely at squeezing as many vehicles through as possible; that casualties at these sites are almost seen as inevitable. Transport for London can't keep on encouraging people to walk and to cycle without addressing the serious issue of safety around these junctions first - it's completely irresponsible. These junctions are a hangover of 1960's style urban design; today they don't work for people who need to drive in central London, they don't work for people who use public transport and they are downright lethal for people on foot or on bike"
Parliament Square;, nice Abbey, nice Palaces of Democracy, nice bit of grass in the middle of six lanes of traffic with no pedestrian crossing to get to it..
This ride isn't a protest, though it's clear that there is a lot of anger amongst people on bikes with Transport for London and their inability to listen to people's safety concerns. It's not a race either; whether you're a fast cyclist or slow, young or old, you're all more than welcome. You'll meet other London cyclists, hear how people have been working together to change our streets for the better, and you'll even get to see some famous London landmarks along the way.
Waterloo. There's a reason why this junction is named after a famous battle you know...
We'll take photos of each junction and record the experience of riding these locations; we'll rate each junction for safety, comfort, air quality and cycle facilities and pass our findings directly to Transport for London - that way the next time the terrible and the inevitable happens at one of these junctions TfL can't say they weren't warned.
We'll be providing ride marshals who will be easily identifiable on the day who will lead the ride and help us through junctions safely; all you have to do is show up ready to pedal. We're now expecting over 100 people to come on a ride which was originally planned as a small tour by a group of friends. If you want to see safer streets for cycling too, we'd love to welcome you too.
Vauxhall Cross. There are no words to describe it. Just shocking.
Meet at St Mark's Church, The Oval, Kennington, SE11 4PW at 10.30AM for a prompt departure.
You'll see we will double back and forth across the city and the river Thames in order to visit all of the dangerous junctions. The ride takes place at the same time as the Lord Mayor's Show meaning much of the City will be closed; as such it is not possible to cross Blackfriars Bridge to visit Bank junction (one of the 10 on the list), but we will visit King's Cross where young cyclist Min Joo Lee was recently killed.
We'll be stopping for a little tea break on Hyde Park Corner roundabout around 12.15 (bring some refreshments to keep yourself going!) and will end at Look Mum No Hands! bicycle cafe on Old Street (map)for coffee an hour or two after that. We're praying for good weather, but pack your lights and your waterproofs just in case.
If you have further questions don't hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org