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.


  1. I for one am rather sceptical about BoJo's sudden change of colours, if he is committed to the Go Dutch Campaign that would seem to be a u-turn that a black taxi would be proud of ;-)

    I'll be at The Big Ride tomorrow, I think the fact that I only feel comfortable riding up from Streatham with my eldest as part of a feeder ride pretty much sums up why we need this in our city, I shouldn't have to be this concerned about something as simple as going out for a ride with my children. However 5 years of commuting on these roads has shown me you can't underestimate the stupidity and impatience of some drivers.

  2. This is fantastic news! For LCC to have got all the major candidates to agree on a transport policy is a real landmark. I know some detractors will say that LCC is not being ambitious enough, or does not really understand 'Dutch' road design, but this is a step towards a change in the psychology of the Mayoralty and hopefully from here the TfL board. We know that TfL are capable of spending huge sums on cycling projects without delivering results. The key is getting them to think like us!

    See you tomorrow (We'll have a big red flag)

  3. Clicking the link from your tweet, going through my mind was the question: "but do you believe him?".

    I see you are sceptical, as am I. If John Griffin can apparently sign up for the Times cyclesafe initiative, I think we have to accept that many people will pay lip-service to the demands of cylists (and pedestrians for that matter) while selectively - highly selectively - interpreting what this means.

  4. It is good news, but it is very hard not to be cynical about this very late conversion to the 'Go Dutch' cause.

    Boris is now committed to implementing three 'flagship' Dutch schemes on 'major streets and/or locations', one of which could quite easily be Blackfriars. Yet it is this very location where Boris refused to do even the bare minimum to help cyclists negotiate the frankly horrible and intimidating junctions at either end of the bridge - not even keeping the 20 mph limit - just months ago.

    This could indeed be a Damascene conversion, but the evidence of the last few years doesn't really lend weight to such an interpretation.

  5. I too am very sceptical about BoJo. Can the leopard really be trusted to have changed its spots?

    I very much doubt it.

  6. Hi All,

    One thing to bear in mind, is that if Boris did not 'support' Love London, Go Dutch and goes on to win he would have a mandate to treat cyclists very poorly. He could effectively say 'People voted for me because I actively did not support this policy'

    I agree entirely that he has very poor form, but by publicly supporting this, we have something to hold him to account with. The key is ensuring we get high quality!

    1. I am really thankful to you for the information you have provided. You are helping others to grow their knowledge by sharing such a valuable information you have. This post is amazing & I'm glad for it.
      Embassy London

  7. Out of Boris and Ken the only one you could trust would be Ken. He will install Jenny Jones as his cycling and walking tsar and we all know about Jenny's passion for making London's roads safer for cyclists. Vote 1) Jenny and 2) Ken on May 3rd for safer roads.

  8. Great news indeed, and all credit to the LCC on this.

    Maybe cycling (as transport) will now move from being a PARTY political issue to being merely a political issue!

    See you on the ride tomorrow.

  9. If you look at the commitments, it's No.2 that matters:

    Make sure all planned developments on the main roads that they control are complete to Go Dutch standards, especially junctions.

    That means everything new. Boris has signed up to this. We can hold him to it.

    1. You reckon ? I am guessing " well I would like to ....... but doing that would cause unacceptable congestion so ..." especially as Boris is a reluctant signatory

  10. Remember there are more superhighways on the way. CS12 is due after the Olympics, the plans for which are of course complete crap (this is the route where TfL's superhighway review team refused to ride around Archway). Fulfilling commitments 1 & 3 could mean finally getting rid of the Archway gyratory and doing rather more to the route than incredibly expensive blue paint.

  11. I'd not seen this Go Dutch initiative, it looks great. I actually have some hope for cycling in London again.

  12. go dutch standards are here:

    if they really keep to this in new design, it's a huge step forward.