Saturday, 14 January 2012

Boris Johnson says London's roads are fine for cycling as they are. City of London says cycling standards will 'not be adequate' as they are and commits to safer streets for all; to cyclable streets. It's not perfect but I doff my cap to the politicians of the City of London.

City of London rush hour - welcome to the bicycle
It's taken a year. But something quite monumental has just happened in the City of London. 

A year ago, the City issued its draft Local Implementation Plan. Some of you, reading this blog at the time, took the time to read the background and got stuck in. You sent letters, petitions and intelligent comments to the City's politicians and told them their plan just wasn't good enough. 

You argued in particular, that the Square Mile's worsening road safety record was no longer acceptable. You argued that conditions for cycling were inadequate and you pointed out that it was not right to spend money for cycling on squeezing in a few scraps for cycling on the condition that this was 'designed with the needs of all road users in mind'. In short, you agreed with the article in last week's Local Transport Today that: "Cyclists' inclusion in carriageway design should start from the basis of expecting equal rights to personal safety for all road users. If this has an effect on other users then that must be accepted". 

And then, last Friday, the City of London announced that Boris Johnson and Transport for London had signed off on revisions to that Plan. The City of London has committed to change how it thinks about its streets. Specifically, it has revised its local implementation plan to include these commitments:

I think this an amazing result and a serious 'chapeau' to the City of London's politicians. The process has been slow and cumbersome. But it has been debated, discussed, argued about and consensus reached. 

The City of London expects that by 2020, 10% of all people travelling into or through the Square Mile will do so by bicycle (Boris Johnson, Mayor of London is planning on only 5% of all trips and not until 2030 - handily). And then it makes this astonishing statement:

In this one statement alone, I think the City of London sets itself ahead of London's Mayor Boris Johnson. Here is the very heart of 'old' London saying that people on bikes deserve more of a place in London's future.

The Times: 20 December 2011, comment by the Sports Editor
In December (December 20 2011), the sports editor of The Times wrote an opinion piece. He declared Boris Johnson's efforts to promote cycling 'a pathetically little measure'.

By contrast, the City of London has recognised there is a need for real change. In doing so, I think the City has set a statement that the future is a different place, arguably that the future aspires to less pollution, to safer roads, to less congestion and to include people on bikes as a serious part of that future. By contrast, London's Mayor is singularly bad at making such bold commitments for fear he might upset a hardcore of voters, perhaps. He is at least consistent in claiming that London's streets are just fine for cycling as they are. The thing is, Boris Johnson's wrong. And the fact that the City of London is prepared to say that current cycling standards will not be adequate for long is a sign that things are beginning to turn against the Mayor on this point.

I'll be reviewing the City of London documents in more detail over coming weeks. But for now, my thanks to everyone (and there are many of you) who wrote, who petitioned and who talked with the City of London. And above all, my thanks to the politicians and the officers of the City of London who listened, who argued, who often disagreed. But who found enough consensus to move things forward. 


  1. I am an experienced road cyclist but on a Boris bike recently, I felt vulnerable and was astonished by the adversarial attitude of motor vehicles. Huge respect to the City of London for recognising things need to change.

    1. Unless you want a saunter around Hyde Park, the Boris bikes are almost completely inappropriate for central London due to the higher speeds on main roads (admittedly mostly outside of rush hour).

      They're too slow, cumbersome and most of the times the brakes are so poorly maintained that a quick stop is next to impossible.

      Good work though City! Admittedly it's probably my least favourite part of London to cycle around as the road conditions are so utterly terrible.

  2. How absolutely fantastic to read this! I'd been getting tired of all the negativity I get from neighbours as I suggest tiny ways of adapting our streets to encourage more cycling, and this has seriously cheered me! Great to think that some of our campaigning actually does have an effect ...

  3. This is totally amazing news! Fantastic stuff. I know for certain that there are many other boroughs who would love to proceed along similar lines, if only they could afford it. Still, credit where it is due. Congratulations to all involved.

  4. Great! Especially when I read this in the document:

    6.3 Some clear themes emerged from the consultation, with the vast
    majority of submissions concerning conditions and facilities for cycling in the City, including cyclists’ safety, convenience and comfort; encouraging more people to cycle more often; and reducing any potential conflict between cyclists and other road users.

    This shows clearly how much impact our submissions had on this topic. Well done Danny for motivating myself and apparently many others to write in. Clearly we overwhelmed any "anti-cycling" or cycling-neutral submissions and this has directly resulted in the LIP being much more cycle friendly than in the draft!

  5. This is indeed good news! Makes all that writing I did a year ago worthwhile. It would seem that the City of London gets it and knows what needs to be done. This its good for two reasons-one is that we are actually going to get good routes through the city and it will also be an incentive for other boroughs to follow suit. Hopefully