Wednesday, 10 July 2013

One negligent Cycle Super Highway, three deaths. British Cycling & The Evening Standard call on Londoners to support London Cycling Campaign protest ride. Friday 6pm, Tower Hill. You need to be there

Rush hour at Elephant & Castle. Outside rush hour the bus lanes on this Cycle Super Highway convert to lanes for dodgy drivers to undertake law-abiding drivers at fast speeds. Funnily enough, no one cycles here when the bus lane hours aren't in operation 
Even the police think Cycle Super Highway 2 is too dangerous. Commenting on the third death of someone cycling on this route last week, police officers were telling the Evening Standard "it is so dangerous around here, people should be aware"

If something is 'so dangerous', people have three choices. Their immediate choice might be to avoid the danger. It's so dangerous, don't cycle here. But there's a Cycle Super Highway running right through here. You are being encouraged to use a bike here, you are supposed to be here. An alternative choice might be to wear a helmet, have lots of training on how to cycle in traffic, wear hi-viz jackets, attach hundreds of lights to your bike to make you even more visible. But, frankly, if a lorry driver overtakes you and then swerves left across you without looking in his mirrors, unless you have Bat Man-like instincts, you're stuffed, helmet or no helmet.

But you have a third option, though. And that is to call for change. You can demand that politicians and their officers change the danger; remove the danger.

As ibikelondon blog points out very eloquently, our politicians are taking an age to understand that the status quo is no longer good enough and that they need to act to change our streets. Waffle is no longer good enough. The Dutch road safety institute said very clearly in 2011, that the only way to remove the danger from roads like Cycle Super Highway 2 is to enforce a "structural separation of trucks and cyclists". We won't remove danger just by talking about it or, as the Mayor seems to think, by having more people on two wheels merrily pedalling around the lorries and buses. This is why I think the London Cycling Campaign is absolutely right to call for "clear space for cycling on our streets". What that means is safe space for cycling on our main roads, the places people want and need to go, not just on our city's backstreets. That view is backed by British Cycling which called on its members to support the London Cycling Campaign.

As the RAC Foundation highlighted today, one in six London drivers now rides a bike every week. Those of us who use a bicycle are not a fringe minority. That point is reinforced by the fact that London's main newspaper, The Evening Standard is also making clear it supports the protest ride: "In the wake of two cycling fatalities in recent weeks, one in Aldgate, the other in Lewisham, the protest ride will remind the Mayor and local councils that Londoners cycling on busy roads need dedicated space to protect them from fast-moving and heavy motor traffic."
The generous bike lane on Waterloo Bridge where Westminster Council encourages people to park their cars for free. This is late rush hour on a Friday evening (42% of rush hour traffic here is people on bikes) The bike lane, by the way, is underneath the parked cars. 

It is not a cycling campaign group but London's own newspaper saying this: "Cycle Superhighway 2 follows the A11 trunk road, a busy multi-lane road but despite being one of the Mayor's flagship commuter cycle routes, the section of Superhighway 2 from Aldgate to Bow roundabout has no dedicated space for cycling. Instead, cyclists are expected to jockey for position among lorries, cars, motorbikes, buses and taxis, with only blue paint and a few bike symbols to protect them."

Something has definitely changed. Two years ago when people first took to their pedals to protest at the woefully inadequate plans for Blackfriars Bridge (two years on, they're unchanged by the way), we were regarded by the media and London's politicians as something of a novelty . Now, calls for safe space for cycling are starting to go mainstream. But they're only going to stay mainstream if you join in and show you want to push for a solution.

We need you to vote with your pedals:

Meet 6pm for 6.15pm start at Tower Hill (where it meets Minories)

The protest ride will last approximately 20-30 minutes, including a brief stop at the junction of A11 Whitechapel Road and A1202 Commercial Street to pay respects at the place where last week's victim died

The ride will be marshalled by LCC staff and volunteers, and will finish at Altab Ali Park around 6.30pm

Cycle safe.

BBC News on London's latest cycling fatality