How cycle safety has gone up the election agenda in London


Green candidate Jenny Jones claims Transport for London (TfL) should face charges of corporate manslaughter following the death of a cyclist in east London

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On Monday I went to an election hustings on cycling safety.

That is not a sentence I have written before and it indicates the remarkable changes that have happened in the capital with regards to cycling.

The hustings, organised by The Times newspaper and the charity Sustrans, shows how high cycle safety has shot up the political agenda.

Certainly, those who argue that mayors do not work and do not listen to the people who elected them should look at the cycling debate.

The issue of cycling safety has always been there, of course, but it started to gather force in November after two cyclists died at Bow roundabout.

This is how I reported it at the time.

Aggressive campaigning

And, as I have written here, local bloggers and campaigners also started to demand change on the roads and began to target the mayoral candidates.

The issue was crystallised when The Times took up a campaigning stance through journalists like Kaya Burgess and Phillip Pank after one of their colleagues was knocked off a bike by an HGV.

What was also noticeable, prior to this, was a sea change at groups like London Cycling Campaign (LCC) and Sustrans which became more demanding and aggressive in their campaigning.

The result is that now all of the main mayoral candidates have signed up to the LCC's campaign promising to "commit to continental-standard cycling infrastructure in the capital".

Most are now committed to "cycling commissioners" and we have already seen a policy shift before the election.

Of course, there are many questions about funding for such infrastructure and delivery but cyclists will hold the candidates to their promises.

Cyclists are a broad, diverse church and in London the mayoral structure has allowed them to make, they hope, considerable changes to the landscape of London.

Tom Edwards, Transport correspondent, London Article written by Tom Edwards Tom Edwards Transport correspondent, London

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The shift in the last 6 months has been phenomenal. What started as a few flash rides has caught the imagination of many every day people who just want to get around by the best means possible, not your typical activists. Culminating in 10,000 people descending on Parliament at the weekend. May the pressure pay off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    As a cycle commuter, it is great that cycling has become an important issue in the mayoral elections.

    As a parent, I am just as pleased, if not more so, that this has helped raise the wider issue of reclaiming our city streets from the motor vehicle.

    The debate for safer streets for pedestrians (and cyclists) and cleaner air for all is also climbing the political agenda.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I was the person you see at the beginning of the film challenging Boris from the floor of the hustings to take up the issue of motorists who kill cyclists. Unfortunately, all I got from Boris was bluster that cyclists are equally responsible as motorists for accidents. What he doesn't get is that motorists kill cyclists. And if he doesn't get that what's the point?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I'm a paramedic and have attended many cycling incidents. Both fatal incidents I attended involved an HGV lorry at a junction. I always thought that a small and cheap improvement to safety would be a reflective tape running alongside an HGV where the driver cannot see a cyclist would help a rider to position himself better. Improvements need to happen now to reduce these tragic incidents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    The focus on liveable streets in London is excellent and ultimately bigger than just cycle safety.

    As a parent in London I like to think that children cycling to school is a sign of healthy streets. It should be the norm and the fact that it is not is an indication that we need changes like a 20 MPH across London, redesigned junctions for pedestrians and bicycles.


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