Friday, 27 April 2012

Boris Johnson joins four other Mayoral candidates to endorse London Cycling Campaign's push for Dutch-style cycling in London. But can London cyclists trust him to genuinely deliver his promise this time after the huge compromise of the Cycle Super Highways?

Cycle superhighway in action as a car park. The 4x4 parks here every night all night for free.
He runs the takeaway stall just by the side of the road and gets free workplace-parking in the bike lane.
News just in: Boris Johnson 'is fully committed to' the implementation of Dutch-style cycling in London. Brilliant news. This means that all four Mayoral candidates from the leading parties in next week's Mayoral elections plus independent Siobhan Benita have backed the concept of Dutch-style cycling as championed by the London Cycling Campaign. Unsurprisingly, UKIP and the BNP are not supportive.

My interest for much of the past week has been tuned to the minicab company AddisonLee. Its boss John Griffin has a truly bizarre sense of reality when it comes to bicycles. Last night there was the astonishing news that his company has lost its contract to supply minicabs to central government.Tonight's Evening Standard says (in an excellent report) that this is "due to the minicab company’s decision to break the law by driving in the bus lanes". A good number of companies have closed AddisonLee accounts because their directors and their staff use bicycles as well as minicabs. As far as I'm concerned, AddisonLee is now a no-go. I will refuse to get in one of the company's cars (coaches too) unless Griffin changes his views on how London's roads should work.

Tonight's big news, is rather different. Boris Johnson has committed in writing that he "is fully committed to meeting the three key tests" of the London Cycling Campaign GoDutch initiative. Those three commitments are:
  • Implement three flagship Love London, Go Dutch developments on major streets and/or locations.
  • Make sure all planned developments on the main roads that they controls are complete to Go Dutch standards, especially junctions.
  • Make sure the Cycle Superhighways programme is completed to Love London, Go Dutch standards. 
Ken Livingstone, Jenny Jones and Brian Paddick have all given their commitment to deliver the London Cycling Campaign goals. And now Boris Johnson as well.

This is great news and is the result of serious and intelligent work by the London Cycling Campaign.
My only anxiety is whether Boris Johnson really means it this time. Does he genuinely mean that it's time to draw a line under the sort of road design that has brought us Bow roundabout, Blackfriars Bridge and the truly awful Henlys Corner? The BackBoris campaign is hugely proud of Henlys Corner describing how it 'makes crossing the road significantly easier for pedestrians and cyclists'. That's rubbish. The scheme is like a giant wall from east to west for everyone who isn't in a motor vehicle. Too many of the brand new schemes delivered under his offices are supposedly 'cycling-friendly' but in reality are truly awful for cycling.

My own view is that it's time to start again. The President of the AA said this week "that in many cyclists’ view the roads are not fit for purpose....Many of the things highlighted in the survey [in The Times newspaper] show that particularly on major roads in and around urban areas we need a fundamental review of road design and junction layout.”

Tomorrow morning I'll be at The Big Ride, with thousands of others. And the point I want the Mayor to realise (whichever Mayor wins) is that what we've seen for the last four years is not Dutch-style cycling. The AA President is right: We need a fundamental review of road design and junction layout. Building rubbish like Henlys Corner, Blackfriars or the Cycle Super Highway out to Bow is not something any Mayor of London should be proud of.