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Help for nervous cyclists and an unlikely coalition...

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Tom Edwards Tom Edwards | 12:31 UK time, Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Mass cycle in London

Remember Cycling Fridays?

They were guided cycling tours for the nervous cyclist. Well, the idea has been resurrected to tie in with the launch of the Mayor's new Cycle Superhighways.

They will start next Monday, and then on Tuesday and Wednesdays for four weeks on the two new routes from Merton to the City and from Barking to Tower Gateway.

Transport for London says:

"Subject to demand, the rides will depart from eight different locations along - or in close proximity to - the Superhighways."

"Subject to demand..." is different to Cycling Fridays where the number of cyclists petered out a bit towards the end of the summer and many started to question the cost so lessons have been learnt.

These rides will be marshalled by London Cycling Campaign. More details www.tfl.gov.uk/guidedcyclerides.

Transport types call these schemes "soft measures."

The most succesful probably in London being the Smarter Travel Sutton scheme.

The bottom line is that compared to building a new Tube line it's a cheap way to change travelling habits. So expect to see more of these especially with Department of Transport cuts looming.

That brings me onto the campaign being waged by businesses and Transport for London about the need to protect the Tube upgrades.

TfL gets a large chunk of the Department for Transport's budget. And if that was cut by 40 per cent then senior figures at TfL tell me the upgrades would be over and that would mean more and more crowded tubes as the population grew.

Incidentally, the DfT say they "understand the importance of the tube upgrades."

What this looming axe has done though is bring together the most unlikely marriage.

Hold the front page. The RMT and Transport for London are in agreement (a little bit).

The RMT says:

"TfL today warned of the dangers of allowing trains to continue to run on signaling and equipment dating back to the 1920's and 1930's - the first time that TfL have come out and backed RMT's safety concerns over the tube cuts programme."

But now we have businesses, unions and Transport for London all agreeing that investment on the tube has to be protected.

As someone said to me: "A rainbow coalition or any port in a storm?"

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