Saturday, 4 February 2012

Last year not a single person was killed riding a bike in Paris. In London there were 16. Boris Johnson is spending a fortune but something is going very wrong. Where on earth is he spending all that money?

"Super Highway"

I'm going to let the poster do most of the talking.

The Times today points out that Copenhagen has spent £77million over the last decade on cycling. This is a city where the majority of school children feel safe enough to cycle to school. 

By contrast, London's Mayor is extremely proud of spending £2million per mile on London's cycle super highways. As I pointed out last month, that is at least 10 times more per mile than the properly segregated bike lanes in Chicago. 

Boris has spent more on Cycle Super Highways in four years than Copenhagen in 10. I suggest that Copenhagen has had much better return on its investment than our Mayor has achieved in London.

What the hell has he spent all the money on? Blue paint doesn't cost that much.

What's more, the blue paint doesn't seem to be working.

Boris's £2million per mile cycle super highways. Impressive, huh?
Last year, 16 people were killed in London on their bikes. In Paris, that number was zero. Yes, no-one was killed cycling on a bike in Paris last year. 

What's different? Well, in London the Mayor has this attitude to people on bikes:

Boris Johnson: 

"It is simply not possible to put in a dedicated lane that would protect a cyclist in the way that we would all want without totally disrupting the traffic….."

What the Mayor forgets is that people are traffic, whether they're on bikes or in cars. Or on foot, frankly. That's why at Bow roundabout - a place where several pedestrians and cyclists have been killed in the last two years - he won't install pedestrian crossings. Why on earth not? It might interrupt the 'traffic', he implies.

Interestingly, Ken Livingstone made this point last week:

Ken Livingstone:

"In some places you can put in separation. Most of our roads are wide enough to do that"

I'm not quite sure if I believe Livingstone yet, to be honest. Here's what he had to say about bike lanes last summer: "In a perfect world, we would have hundreds of miles of segregated cycle routes, but we have to face the reality that this is very difficult on many of London’s roads.” So which one is it Mr Livingstone? The new message or the old one?

Paris bike lanes springing up everywhere
Meanwhile, over in Paris? They're building a 700km network of bike lanes that look like this. Right through the middle of the city and spanning in all directions. 

It makes Boris's blue paint look like the wrong strategy. And a very expensive strategy at that.

I don't think that's good enough. If you're going to spend hundreds of millions, do it properly and don't just give us blue paint.

If you haven't done so yet, sign up to The Times cyclesafe campaign. And in particular copy their manifesto and click the link to send it to your MP.