Londoners Take to the Streets — on Cycles

london_cycle.jpg

Via the blog of Stuart Hughes, a BBC journalist who lost part of his leg in Iraq while on assignment in 2003 and who is an avid cyclist, come a few interesting links regarding cycling in London. First, a BBC story on the skyrocketing popularity of biking both for recreation and commuting in London, a rise that has coincided with a decreasing injury and fatality rate for cyclists:

The number of people cycling in London has risen 83% in the last seven years, mayor Ken Livingstone has revealed. Figures from Transport for London (TfL) showed almost half-a-million journeys are made by bike in London every day.

The number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on London’s roads had fallen 28% since March 2000, TfL said.

On Tuesday Mr Livingstone launched a television advertising campaign, "You’re better off by bike" to encourage more people to take to the saddle. He said: "London is experiencing a cycling renaissance. We can now justifiably call ourselves a cycling city, a proposal that would have seemed ridiculous just six years ago."

He put the popularity of cycling down to record investment, a growing network of cycle and bus lanes and the increased confidence of riders.

Confidence that might well have something to do with streets that flow more freely thanks to congestion pricing.

Unfortunately, the soaring popularity of bicycles in the UK has made them more desirable to the country’s criminal element as well. This rise in criminal activity prompted one Member of Parliament to call for Sharia law to be applied to bicycle thieves.

A bit extreme perhaps. Not nearly so radical is the London Evening Standard’s call for safer cycling conditions (not available online, but Hughes helpfully uploaded it). The Standard’s plan has some interesting elements that we in New York could perhaps add to our own wish list:

  • Better cycle lanes with proper segregation
  • Enforcement of special advanced stop lines for cyclists
  • HGVs [Heavy Goods Vehicles] to be fitted with special cyclist safety mirrors
  • Compulsory cyclist awareness training for all bus drivers and new HGV drivers
  • Fewer one-way systems which funnel cyclists into the middle of traffic
  • More cycle parking across London
  • A police crackdown on bike theft
  • Make safe the Thames bridges: some of the most dangerous places for cyclists
  • Better cycle-bus-rail coordination: adequate parking at all railway stations
  • Cycle training for all schoolchildren and any adult who wants it

Photo: Drift Words via flickr

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