Huge thanks to all 2000 of you! Now it's over to Parliament...

Nearly 2000 of you braved a cold and wet night in London yesterday evening to join our cycle safe flashride to Parliament!

The blinking trail of bike lights as we set off along The Mall.  Tis and many other awesome flashride photos was taken by Zefrog on Flickr

There was a roar from the peloton of people on bikes as they circled Parliament Square ringing their bells and calling for MPs to act.  Ahead of me stretched a long line of blinking red lights and a sea of high visibility jackets.  I cycled from the back of the pack which was approaching the roundabout on the north side of Lambeth Bridge.. the protest crossed the bridge, went along Lambeth Road and stretched all the way to Westmister roundabout.  The ringing and tinging and pinging of bells and the shouts and cries of people on the ride was deafening as we passed the Houses of Parliament and completely encircled Parliament Square.  For just a few brief moments the entire square was filled with bicycles and the clicking of gears and whirring of tyres instead of the croaking of motors and spluttering of exhausts.

Outside Westminster Abbey
We ride past Westminster Abbey - photo by Jack from The Bike Show

In Parliament Square my fellow bike blogger and ride organiser Danny Williams of Cyclists in the City spoke live to BBC television news and said "David Cameron is absolutely right that it can be difficult to cycle to in UK cities, when it absolutely shouldn't be difficult to cycle in UK cities.  That's because of how much we invest here in the UK which has been minimal and patchy to date.  Today he talked about £25 million for the whole of the UK which when you think about the whole country is pretty minimal.  It's one train carriage.  What I'd really like to see is our MPs asking "Can my child cycle to school?" I'd argue that in the UK at the moment they can't.  Really they ought to be."

Danny Williams giving good soundbite
Danny meets the BBC, photo by Jack from The Bike Show

Crossing Westminster Bridge.  Photo by MJS via Flickr

In today's Times I write; "I’ve been writing about cycling in London for three years. I’ve seen the number of people on bikes explode — riding to work, I’m joined by 20 or so other cyclists at the red lights. But, along with growing numbers of cyclists, I’ve noticed rising levels of anger.

The Times’s Cities fit for cycling campaign has captured the zeitgeist perfectly. There is growing consensus among cyclists, and indeed those who would like to cycle but are too afraid, that patchy provision of cycle training is not enough. And their concerned voices are only going to grow."

The greatest demonstration of this being an issue about people, their safety, and their ability to move around our cities freely - as oppose to any poorly conceived preconceptions about what it is to be "a cyclist" and what we do or do not 'deserve' - this lady made my night:

Picture via @BBCTomEdwards

The purpose of our ride was to focus the minds of politicians and decision makers and get them to think really big in terms of creating conditions which are inviting cycling for everyone.  It is time for the UK to move beyond the patchy provision of training and hoping for the best and instead to start focusing on creating Cities Fit for Cycling.  The MPs will attend a 3 hour debate in Westminster Hall today.  It's over to them now; I know all 2000 of you plus the 30,000 who have signed up to The Times campaign will be watching them.

Meanwhile, London Cycling Campaign who have supported our ride from the start and who provided logistical support throughout continue with their fantastic "Love London Go Dutch" campaign.  If you haven't signed their petition yet please do so now, and block out Saturday April 28th in your diaries when - just one week before the Mayoral elections - they will be holding the biggest bicycle rally London has ever seen to demand action from our future Mayor.

"This is just the start!" Photo by (@Fixedphoto)

Huge thanks must go - of course - to all of you for helping to spread the word and for coming out to ride on a cold and gloomy February night - you should all be really proud of yourselves!  Massive thanks must also go to MPs Sadik Kahn (Labour, Tooting south London) for waiving us off and Dr Julian Huppert (Lib Dem, Cambridge) for joining us on the ride and for planning tomorrow's parliamentary debate.  The editorial teams at The Times, Road CC, BBC London news and ITV London Tonight have been fantastic.  And I'm sure you will all join me in wishing a very special extra thank you to all of the wonderful volunteer marshalls who gave up their evening to see us all around the course safely and who kept the rush hour traffic at bay.  Lastly, an enormous thank you and "chapeau!" to the Metropolitan Police officers in attendance and indeed to the cycle officers who helped to ensure our ride was safe and smooth.

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Mike Smith said...

Thanks for the amazing ride. My friends and I will keep bombarding our MP with letters. We must continue to up the momentum, both at national and local level.

Locally: Edinburgh Council's recently promised to spend 5% of its transport budget on cycling (increasing by 1% a year there-after). They've got some plans which could make a huge difference, we just need to ensure they've the political mandate and will to push them through.

Good luck everyone! Let's hope this debate is well attended.

Jez Andrews said...

Thats fantastic stuff, just wish I didn't live so far away then i could have joined you for something I feel very strongly about.

Lets hope other cities can follow on from this example too.

Anonymous said...

A brilliant cycle demo, great atmosphere at the end, we did astart a dash sombre...

I know it seems London centric and i'm a london resident but Parliamant is where dicisions are made, i felt like it was a ride for all cyclists across the UK.

Mark, when do we get to see you name on ballot boxes? You've walk the walk, talk the talk.

Adios ANDY

Vocus Dwabe said...

Our thanks for organising this, Mark. It was all great fun and for me an entirely novel experience, to be cycling around central London on a drizzly weekday evening and not find it terrifying. I have to say though that pedalling along as part of a phalanx of 2,000 other cyclists didn't feel very different from Amsterdam about 5:00pm - except,of course, that in that city you'd be either in pedestrianised streets or on segregated cycle tracks, and therefore wouldn't impede other road users in the slightest.

Cycling back to Liverpool Street afterwards was much more alarming: on your own, in the dark, on wet roads amid fast motor traffic, with cycle lanes - where they exist - constantly blocked by parked vehicles. That's the sad everyday reality our city cyclists have to face.

Lindsay said...

Thank you all for your efforts on behalf of cyclists everywhere! You made us all proud!

Freedom Cyclist said...

Jealous as all hell!!!!

...all the NSW government wants to do in terms of cycling is send the Sheriff around to my place to remove my property for my bicycle helmet crime - sigh

Bike 98 said...

Sounds like a great demo Mark, nice work.

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