Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Councils Need to Step Up to Make This a Cyclists' City

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Councils Need to Step Up to Make This a Cyclists' City

Article excerpt

Byline: Rosamund Urwin

LONDON is a drivers' city. Even as the number of vehicle-less residents rises, the car remains king. I think this every morning as I ride to work along Battersea's Latchmere Road, where the white bikes painted on the tarmac are invariably covered by traffic. I thought it again last week, when a minicab suddenly cut into my lane, forcing me to try to mount the kerb; I failed, toppled over and was left bloody and bruised. And I thought it most of all when cycling campaigner Donnachadh McCarthy took me on what he dubbed the "cycle disasters tour".

McCarthy picked Southwark -- home to three recent cyclist deaths -- for the tour's location but he could have chosen most London boroughs. Notable exceptions are Waltham Forest and Camden, where the councils have put significant effort into making streets more bike-friendly. And that illustrates the crux of the problem.

Everybody keeps calling on the Mayor to make London a better cycling city; I've done so in the past. But both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson have stressed the importance of cycling infrastructure. The execution hasn't always been perfect but they've brought in a bike hire scheme, cycle superhighways and now segregated lanes bisecting the city.

But it's not down to the Mayor alone: councils must tackle it too. The 32 boroughs are responsible for some 95 per cent of roads. McCarthy's organisation, the bluntly-named Stop Killing Cyclists, found through a Freedom of Information request that 13 councils had never built a single metre of protected cycle lanes. Some of them have also blocked the mayor's pro-cycling proposals.

There's also the issue of planning applications. On Tower Bridge Road, there's a new development right next to the road. If it were one metre further back from the kerb, a protected lefthand turn could have been put in to help prevent the horror collisions where a cyclist is dragged under an HGV. …

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