Cycling In The City Talks Elections

By jamesup Last edited 73 months ago
Cycling In The City Talks Elections

Last time we did this (a Mayoral election) no one spent very much time talking about cycling – this time it's been different. Boris's interventions, loved or hated, have played a big part in changing that – but another huge factor has been the constant efforts of bloggers and campaigners to hold the Mayoralty and TfL to account. One of those bloggers is Danny Williams, whose blog, Cyclists in the City, was the spearhead of the battle for Blackfriars Bridge, and instigated November's Tour Du Danger. We asked Danny for his thoughts on the state of cycling in the capital.

What are the key issues in London cycling at the moment?
I think the key issue is that the current Mayor wants to plan for more roads and more motor traffic in London. Instead of focusing on road building (and all the disruption, pollution, damage to people's streets and neighbourhoods), he should create conditions where most people think cycling is a sensible alternative to taking the car. It can be done, he just needs to tell his transport people that's what he wants.

What would you like to see the Mayor and Assembly do?
Focus on things that make a real difference like safer routes for cycling where people don't feel intimated by motor traffic and not just putting blue paint down the middle of the road any more.

If Londonist gave you £60m, what would you do to make London better?
Building two really top quality routes for cycling right through London. One going east>west and the other north>south. They should be routes where cycling is the priority form of transport. There are thousands of routes where motor traffic is the priority form of transport. It's time that cycling had at least two to make a real difference.

Danny (and Londonist) will be at the Big Ride this Saturday.

Last Updated 26 April 2012

Tony Woolf

Danny Williams' heart is in the right place, but his idea of  "two really top quality routes for cycling" is all wrong.  Think about it in practice: first you have to cycle to the route, then along it, and then from the route to your destination.  It would be almost no help for most cycling journeys of only a few miles. 
The real challenge is more difficult.  Most London main roads don't have space for dedicated cycle lanes.  So to imrprove safety, either we must restrict cyclists to minor roads and those few main roads with special facilities (which a lot of motorists would like) or we have to change people's behaviour.  Cyclists have their part in this, there is a lot of irresponsible cycling.  But the main change that's needed is for motorists to understand that cyclists have a right to the road. 
Most motorists have learnt to be patient when waiting at a red light or zebra, but many still have to learn to be patient when behind a cyclist.  Changing minds is hard, but it can be done: drunk driving is no longer socially acceptable.  I wonder if our society has the will to try.


"Most London main roads don't have space for dedicated cycle lanes." Really? Not the ones i've seen. Euston Road -4 lanes of traffic,  no bike lanes. TCR, 5 lanes of traffic including parking, no bikes lanes. Kingsland Road/A10 4 lanes of traffic in places, no bike lane. The A2? Again, 4 lanes in places, no bike lanes. Regent Street? you get the idea. 
There is bags of room for bike lanes in London, we just need less space for cars. 


 "his idea of  "two really top quality routes for cycling" is all wrong"
I disagree wholeheartedly with you. Two routes isn't the end game, it's the start - from there you add feeder routes and 'branch lines'.  These routes would be what the Superhighways *should* have been (but have completely failed to be) .  Cycle commuters heading into zone 1 almost certainly use parts of one of the superhighway network already - 2 main arterial routes would improve some of the journey of a huge number of people. 

The idea that 'London main roads don't have space for dedicated cycle lanes' is also nonsense. Huge amounts of the London road system DO have space for both motorised traffic and dedicated cycle facilities  - check out the 'main roads' on this site for examples 

If we accept that we will have to reallocate some of the road space then much more of the network opens up. European cities are managing to do this, even New York is managing to do this, but in London it's still considered unacceptable.  


Yes, there's plenty of room. It's true you can't always find room for high-quality cycle lanes on some of the narrower main roads (charing cross rd, for example), but you can take a minor road nearby (wardour st?), reduce the speed limit to 20, stop all the through-traffic, reduce the parking, and make it a priority route for bikes instead. 

And, yes, two routes would just be a start, to prove the concept.