Monday, 29 August 2011

Simply unbelievable. Man who runs London's roads for the Mayor thinks this is a family-friendly route to cycle to the Olympics.

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Transport for London's head of roads thinks this is where people should cycle to the Olympics. With their children, I imagine? 

Writing this blog, I have had moments of frustration and moments of optimism. But absolutely nothing has shocked me more than something I came across at the weekend. 

Leon Daniels is the man responsible for London's roads. A big man in the bus world, Mr Daniels joined Transport for London earlier this year. He is responsible for all surface transport in London,including the cycle hire scheme. 

I have profiled Leon Daniels before. He has asserted several times in correspondence that he sees no reason to give people sufficient space that they might feel safe enough to take up cycling on London's roads.

He also writes a blog. Last week he posted the following blog entry:

"One of my correspondents stated recently that there is no provision for cyclists at the Olympic Games. This is not true! Here is the real situaion! [sic]"

Among other suggestions, he talks about how you should access the Olympics by cycle from the north:

"Head south on A11 through Stratford town centre gyratory, onto Stratford High Street, left onto Cam Road and onto Channelsea Path to Abbey Lane.  Onto Rick Roberts Way and into the southern spectator transport mall."

Pictured above, the A11 through Stratford town centre gyratory. Six lanes of motor traffic. To manoeuvre around this junction, you might need to magic your way across no less than four sets of fast-flowing motor traffic. On a bicycle. Perhaps with your twelve year-old daughter. 

Remember, this is the same man who sees no need for cycle lanes to be wide enough to cycle in safely.

I'm so stunned, I don't even know where to start. We might as well give up cycling, get in our cars and add to London's congestion.

It simply defies common sense to believe this could ever be a scene where families should cycle to the Olympics. I believe Leon Daniels's suggestion that this is the way people should cycle to the Olympics with their sons and daughters is so dangerous it is almost immoral. 

My own feeling is that cycling in London is dead and finished if this is what the Mayor's most senior advisers truly think.  


If anyone from East London knows these streets better than me, I'd be very interested to hear your own thoughts on the full text of Mr Daniels's article about cycling to the Olympics.


  1. Well look at it this way, when the Olympics is on the world will be looking at London's cycle "facilities"! The Mayor likes to tell the world how great they are, but when they see for them selves, there will be problems and the world will know about them. Lets see him talk his way out of that... there will be no hiding place!!

  2. I'm with you on giving up. As I observed three terrified tourists on their Boris Bikes this afternoon, cycling along the (recently widened) Oxford street, looking every 3 seconds over their shoulders at the looming buses on their tails, i realised that cycling was not going to take off in London. not until we have a change in leadership.

  3. Perhaps Leon Daniels will be attending the London Skyride on Sunday 4th September. This is equally a damp squib when compared to New York's Summer Streets, where the Commissioner for Transportation and the Commissioner for City Parks, are out there on bikes sampling the vox pop and testing their product.

    London pales against Bogota, where for TWO decades, the city shuts the streets to motor traffic on EVERY Sunday, and hundreds of thousands are out on foot bike and every other for of self propelled transport. The privately published Ciclovias documented the early years when even hospital patients came out on trolleys, and schoolchildren were recruited as traffic marshals.

    Paris equally shames London they close the equivalent of the Victoria Embankment for the summer and create a beach promenade. We can't even shut the Westway motorway for the Notting hill Carnival.

    People were impressed by the ability to wander along The Strand and other parts of Central London, when le Tour did achieve a decent exclusion regime on motor traffic, and this year's Royal Wedding made the city a pleasant place to visit aside from the rather crowded zone between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.

    Skyride will provide a glimmer of what could be possible, but only in a very small way. perhaps a call to comment on radio phone ins etc about how we really should have a skyride shut-down every Sunday. So far the only person actually doing something is our Head of State, who gets her Royal Parks people to kick cars off the big drive in from of her London pad on Sundays.

    PS - for London 2012 the big word is dispersal (and corresponding pre-event assembly) and I 'hae ma doots' as they say in Scotland. We should be looking at how to shift people across the river on bikes and on foot if appropriate both to avoid overloading some of the rail routes and as a major contingency move if any rail route goes down. notably where to fire the Javelin shuttle trains if St Pancras goes hooters heavenwards - still the existing 75/90mph trains from Liverpool Street are already timetabled to get from London to Stratford in 7 minutes presumably for substantially cheaper fares than the 7 minute trip on 140mph trains from St Pancras. Remember though that to that 7 minutes you need to add 'transfer'/queuing times at St Pancras and Stratford so overall the time by bike will be pretty much the same (anyone up for a '2012 spectator challenge' race?) Bike vs train vs ?

  4. I do believe there's a 'tfl special' gutter cycle lane somewhere in that picture, if you look closely....

  5. Bus subsidies in London are worth billions… this is corruption pure and simple and the people at TFL as well as keeping London full of horrible bus choking congestion are lining their own pockets.

  6. Based on evidence such as this, Blackfriars Bridge, London Bridge or the new Elephant & Castle development, I think it's fair to say that Boris has given up genuinely trying to make things better for cyclists.

    Our only hope is that a rival will pick up the cause, win the next London election and knock some heads together at TFL.

  7. How strange. I'm now seeing the exact same route recommendations on the BBC website here

    Leon Daniels's blog looks like it's him. His picture's on it several times. He responds to comments on it. But if it is realyl him, is he just copying some text from TfL that's also being handed to the BBC? Very curious