Mayor Boris Johnson ducks Londoners' calls for a real cycling legacy after Olympics

Today, Boris Johnson re-announced a two-day summer festival of cycling for 2013 (it had been known about since January), which will involve a traffic-free event in central London on Saturday 3 August (like Skyride) and, the next day, a mass cycling sportive in London and Surrey, open to 20,000 participants.

The London Cycling Campaign welcomes these events, but shares the disappointment of many Londoners that an announcement supposedly offering an ‘Olympic legacy’ for cyclists doesn’t include any new infrastructure to make London’s streets more safe and inviting for cycling.

In April 2012, Boris Johnson signed up to LCC’s Love London, Go Dutch campaign, yet nearly 100 days into his second mayoralty there are few signs yet that he’s putting into practice the commitments he made to the electorate a week before the election.

We’ll be delivering a full verdict on his first 100 days in the coming weeks.

LCC sees a place for mass cycling events – indeed, our trustee David Love is credited with coming up with the idea for the original traffic-free Freewheel in 2007 – but their effect on increasing levels of cycling is likely to be very marginal, and their influence on cyclist safety is zero.

And adding a cycling sportive to the mix will no doubt provide tremendous entertainment for many Londoners of a sporty disposition, but it won’t do anything to address the needs of Londoners who use cycling in a much more practical way - for TRANsport.

Yes, the Mayor has instructed Transport for London to conduct a review of many dangerous junctions (after strong lobbying and the deaths of many cyclists), but we still have no idea to what degree these junctions will be changed.

The response from London's cycling public to the Mayor's supposed 'Legacy' announcement has been equally cool.

The comments on our Facebook page and Twitter feed speak as eloquently as we can:

“While ‘RideLondon’ is a welcome addition to the scene, of course, the words ‘wasted opportunity’ are ringing pretty loudly in my ears. @marksbikeslondon, Twitter

“Next year’s RideLondon sounds great but a 2-day festival is a jolly not an Olympic legacy.” @carltonreid, Twitter

“What we need is infrastructure to enable Londoners of all ages, shapes and sizes to get around by bike safely in London. So please don't let [Boris] call this event the Olympic 'legacy'.” Warren Hatter, Facebook

“I dont want a summer of cycling: I want Government to CHANGE things, laws that protect cyclists, better infrastructure, better education, more road safety initiatives, HGV safety improvements, better interaction of ALL road users” Mark Preval, Facebook

“We need the proper infrastructure so that most people can cycle throughout the year and which will help make our city cleaner” Susan Belinda Webb, Facebook

Replies

  • By bigpete at 6:48pm 10 August 2012

This is utter rubbish. We need infrastructure not a circus.

Who is going to hold Boris to account?

  • By JHW at 7:17pm 10 August 2012

Hmmm! Not sure about utter rubbish. Just seems a bit strong.

 

But I do hope that Mayor Johnson doesn't think that this will be sufficient to placate London's cycling community. This must be an 'as well as' not 'instead of'.

  • By Moggers at 8:15pm 10 August 2012

Im sorry, but this is utter rubbish. The event itself im sure will be great, but this is 'legacy' we are talking about. The Olympics has had anywhere up to £14bn pumped into it. Boris's big announcement is a single event -that was already happening! This is not a legacy for cyclists in London. What if one of my friends decides to get married that weekend, or i get a cold. I could miss the ENTIRE cycling legacy of the Olympics!!

Its a joke. It should be new infrastructure, new policy, or nothing. I think Londons cycling community needs to be clearer about this and throw a bit of water on his parade. 

The two day festival will probably be good fun but will not be effective in changing Londoners' long-term travel habits, or sustainably increasing the levels of physical activity of people who are currently inactive.

However, increasing the average distance that English people walk or cycle to the level of the Danes would reduce the occurrence of many disease such as cancer, dementia and depression, and save the NHS BILLIONS (without even considering the effect of air pollution).

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2812%2960766-1/fulltext

Countries like the Netherlands and Denmark which have achieved very high levels of cycling have very good cycling infrastructure. Most people who do not cycle in London are put off because the roads are too dangerous.

So there is every reason (economic, environmental, public health) why the Mayor must invest in infrastructure to make cycling safe and convenient. Not doing so is a waste of money and harmful to people's health and the environment.

  • By JHW at 6:29am 11 August 2012

Is anyone ware of what now happens to Skyride?

Is that going to be on as well or does this event take over from the Skyride?

The olympic park, together with the lee valley can become a cycling off-road haven for families near to a world famous city centre. Once they've knocked down the temporary structures it will be interesting to see if the area is rebuilt as a green oasis for cyclists.

  • By Monica at 5:16pm 11 August 2012

Agree with all the comments so far. Whilst this event may be great for recreational and sporting/competiion riders, it ignores the fact that many, if not most, cyclists use their bike as a form of transport. It is not just a hobby. For that reason, the priorities for transport policy, which encourage a safe and clean and healthier lifestyle for all is as much, if not a greater legacy of the Games than one off events such as these. The link between our environment and public health i.e. speed and casualty/fatality figures; poor air quality from pollution(at a 6 year high end of July) and costs to our health;  poor road design and barriers to moving around safely, must be addressed and investment made. 

  • By GeorgeG at 1:19pm 12 August 2012
I share the disappointment of many respondents. Boris still shows no sign of understanding why a real cycling policy is needed - it is not about giving a lollipop to a particular interest group but about changing conditions so that cycling becomes a real option for vastly more people than is currently the case, because a continuation of current trends of increasing road use runs into the sand in the all too near future.

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