|The Tour du Danger as we left Oval junction, November 2011|
Clearly, the Mayor's "keep your wits about you" strategy of 2011 was a failure. And we wanted to shout that loud and clear.
|Oval bike lane before (under the lorry) & building the new bike lane (right). No idea|
how I managed to snap the exact same lorry twice!
And yet, I can't help noticing that, just as TfL starts to treat cycling like a grown-up transport mode, things are stirring that might bring all this good work to a bit of a messy end.
Two weeks ago, I read a comment piece in the Evening Standard by Andrew Gilligan, the cycling commissioner, which brought some of this home. Gilligan honed in on some comments made by Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan on LBC Radio about the cycle super highways. I've had the dubious honour of paying LBC some hard-earned cash to go back and listen to those radio slots.
|Sadiq Khan talking on LBC about the Cycle Super Highways in October|
Sadiq Khan is a bit more ambiguous. He seems to suggest he likes the Cycle Super Highways but not the way TfL has gone about building them. He's also questioning "the route" - as if there was only one Super Highway. I'm not sure how else TfL was supposed to go about building the Cycle Super Highway but if you read Khan's comments carefully you might notice something. These comments sound incredibly similar to those uttered last year by both the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association and by Canary Wharf Group. Both organisations talked about 'supporting' segregated Cycle Super Highways. Both organisations, however, talked about 'the route' being wrong, by which they meant the Cycle Highway along the Embankment (and seemed oblivious to the fact there are already two segregated Cycle Highways elsewhere) and both openly criticised TfL's on 'process' issues relating to building the Cycle Highways.
Let's not forget, the LTDA still has a court case pending (early next year I am assuming), having applied for a judicial review on the grounds that TfL should have sought planning permission before beginning construction. If you read Sadiq Khan's comments in this light, it sounds to me awfully like he, the LTDA and Canary Wharf Group are talking the same sort of language.
The craziness of the LTDA case is that the Embankment Cycle Highway will basically have been built by the time the taxi drivers (may) see their day in court. What do they hope to achieve? Another year of roadworks while the thing gets dug up and more people get killed? Certainly feels that way.
But I'm more worried by Zac and Sadiq. They're not exactly expressing much love for cycling as a legitimate part of the transport mix right now.
If I were you, I'd start asking both of these Mayoral candidates much more about where they stand on cycling as a legitimate part of London's transport mix - one that needs proper funding and proper direction. And I'd be keeping a very cynical eye on similarities between how these two Mayoral candidates talk about cycling and how the LTDA and Canary Wharf Group talk about cycling too. The similarities are a bit too obvious, in particular in Sadiq Khan's case here.