Want things to change for cyclists in London? Then ask for it!

There used to be a time when cycle campaigning in London had a somewhat meek approach to making demands.  A fluster here about cycle parking, a flap there about cycle route signs...  Whilst well-meaning, there was little to engage the wider public - and their politicians - to really dare them to dream big.

Times have changed, and a resurgent London Cycling Campaign has led the way with bold and exciting campaigning that everyday and ordinary Londoners can get involved with and really care about.  In 2012 their "Love London, Go Dutch" election push saw 10,000 people take to the streets in protest in London's biggest ever cycling demonstration.  That led directly to the newly elected Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, pledging to spend nearly a BILLION pounds on making London's streets safe for cycling over the next ten years, and the construction of the first section of fully segregated Cycle Superhighway in Stratford.  On other fronts, campaigning at Blackfriars Bridge led to the speed limit being reduced to 20mph to keep people safe, and plans to completely re-design the northern junction of the bridge.  A 20mph limit shortly to be introduced across the whole of the "Square Mile", the City of London, was a direct consequence of a letter writing campaign by concerned cyclists.  A new junction proposed in Camden that will design out the possibility of left-hooking cyclists, whilst the opening up of the Docklands Light Railway network to passengers with bikes are both responses to campaigner's efforts.

In short, campaigning works.

But politically, London is a complicated beast.  In addition to the Mayor (who as the Chair of TfL controls the city's biggest and busiest roads) we also have MPs who represent local boroughs in our national Parliament.  And within each borough, local Councillors look after separate wards, and help to control how money is spent from one authority to another.  Whilst the "Love London, Go Dutch" campaign of 2012 has helped to ensure that safe space for cycling will be created on our busiest roads, this is just part of the jigsaw.  There are 33 local authorities across our city, who control 90% of London's streets.  The Councillors who will lead these areas are running for election very soon, on May 22nd 2014.  (You have till the 6th of May to register if you're not yet on the electoral roll where you live.)

The London Cycling Campaign are once again on the ball, running an incredible campaign across all of Greater London in an effort to get every political candidate standing in the May 22nd local elections to sign up to demands for space for cycling in their ward.

Local authorities control whether resident's streets are rat runs or family-friendly environments.  They can bring in 20mph zones, or close off unnecessary through roads to help create quiet routes for cycling.  School runs, town centre cycle parking, routes through local parks, which street to resurface next... all this, and more, will fall under the control of the politicians elected in May.

A perfect example of why these local elections are so important to cyclists on the ground can be seen by comparing the neighbouring boroughs of Camden and Westminster.  In Camden there's been cycle-friendly Councillors and cycle-friendly policy for many years, meaning most roads have cycle lanes, there's ample cycle parking and you can find some of the best cycle infrastructure in the city.  In neighbouring Westminster, bicycles have not been the same concern for politicians long enthral to the demands of motorists, and you'd be lucky to find an Advanced Stop Line, let alone somewhere to park your bike.  To put it in a nutshell, these elections could decide whether your ride to work is a pleasure or a pain.

London Cycling Campaign are asking people across London to use their simple and easy to use tool to find out what the space for cycling demands are in your area, and to contact election hopefuls.  It takes just a few seconds, but in local elections where turnouts are traditionally low and every vote counts, contacting prospective Councillors like this can really help to make a difference and secure pledges for cycle-friendly change in the future.

Over 600 ward-specific cycling improvements have been mapped across London by LCC's local volunteers, and 20,000 messages have already been sent to election hopefuls, with more than 400 election candidates signing up to the demands of the Space for Cycling campaign and committing to change on the ground in the future.

But as the elections approach, the LCC are asking for more people to come on board.  Signing up takes just a few seconds, and could help secure change where you live.  If we want Space For Cycling, we've got to ask for it!

You can sign up to the London Cycling Campaign's #SpaceForCycling campaign on their website in just a few moments, and follow updates via their Facebook and Twitter pages.  And keep Saturday 17th May free in your diaries, when the campaign will culminate in a Big Ride through central London, just days before the city goes to the polls.

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Jono said...

Great read as ever. Yes, campaigning works. It's boring, time consuming and in all honesty an embarrassment that it needs to take place for cycling. However, on we plod and I am confident that some LCC local groups will begin to find their voices and put increased pressure on the councils to get S4C sorted. Tab and I are looking into the role of the Health and well-being boards as to how they may be instrumental into bringing enforced changes. Onwards

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