London's cycle culture should follow continent's lead

cyclists142.jpgIs cycling in London really as dangerous as many people believe?

The number of cyclists dying on the capital's roads last year was 16. This year 10 cyclists have already lost their lives.

London Cycling Campaign are the force behind the Love London, Go Dutch campaign. Cycling development officer Gerhard Weiss said: "Statistically cycling in London is quite safe but the problem is, stats don't mean much if you get hit. The consequences from even a small collision with a vehicle can be quite severe because like a pedestrian, cyclists are unprotected.

"Overall nationwide the number of cyclists and pedestrians killed has been reduced but the number being killed in urban areas hasn't. It is important to remember that there are more people cycling and also that these are the areas that pedestrians, cyclists and motorists are more likely to mix."

The LCC is an independent charity campaigning to make the streets better for cyclists by lobbying local government, Transport for London and the London assembly.

Mr Weis said: "It is important to reduce the perception of danger as well as the danger itself. One way to do this would be to have motor free routes that look and feel inviting as well as looking at ways to reduce danger such as large lorries.

"We run events and guided cycle rides offering information and advice. This Saturday, as part of European Mobility week we have obtained a traffic order to make Cat and Mutton Bridge car free for the day."

London Assembly's Transport Committee chair Caroline Pidgeon is in agreement with taking tips from countries better adapted to two wheeled travel.

She said: "Clearly there is much London needs to learn from Holland and other European cities to make our roads safer and more attractive for cycling. In particular I think we should be considering wider cycle lanes and where possible the greater use of totally segregated cycle lanes.

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"Many of London's junctions would benefit from additional traffic lights which are at the eye-level for cyclists and ideally giving cyclists a staggered start. The Department for Transport must allow TfL to catch up with best international practice."

Other measures advocated by Ms Pidgeon include better design of many junctions, the use of Trixi safety mirrors at most junctions and increased training provision for lorry drivers.

The Mayor of London pledged his support for The LCC's Love London, Go Dutch cycle scheme during this year's mayoral election. The campaign is asking for the capital to to adopt a continental style cycling infrastructure with measures including high quality bike lanes as standard, 20mph speed limits in residential areas.

The Mayor also suggested Greenwich could be one of the first locations to benefit.

He has outlined plans for a two day festival of cycling in an effort to boost the number of cyclists in London.

Mr Johnson said: "We also need to capitalise on the incredible achievements of Team GB's Olympic cyclists whose superhuman efforts will inspire thousands more Londoners to take to two wheels.

"I urge every Londoner and cycle fanatics from all over the country, if not the world, to mark the weekend of 3 August 2013 in their diaries for what I believe will become one of the world's number one cycling events."

Speaking to the London Assembly's transport committee last week where cycle traffic experts from Holland and Denmark were present, TfL director of planning surface transport Ben Plowden admitted TfL invest annually £10 a head on cyclists.

"Half of that spent on someone in Holland," he said. "But significantly up from the early days when cycling became a priority.

"I am sure there is more we could put in. We are not up to European levels but we have gone up from a lower base."