Voice of the Month: Ashok Sinha

LCC's chief executive Ashok Sinha looks ahead to another great year for cycling and asks for your support to grow the Space for Cycling campaign

It’s fantastic weather for cycling at the moment! No, it really is. So what if the capricious wind first teases you one way, then blasts you another. Horizontal rain? Ha! These things were sent to test us – and I’m glad to say my good quality waterproofs once more passed with flying colours, again repaying the not inconsiderable investment I made in them. Indeed, what better way to blow out the cobwebs if, like me, you have had a very jolly Christmas which involved perhaps too many calories in and not enough calories out.

True, if you are in a part of the country suffering terrible biblical flooding as storms spinning out of a strong polar vortex over North America picking up moisture over the Atlantic and dumping it here in great volumes, then heading off for a ride may not the first thing on your mind. And, to be fair, I can see why a lot of people jump on the bus or tube when the heavens open. Negotiating those dark lakes that spread over our roads as drains disgorge the wrong way, not knowing what rim-bending, teeth-rattling potholes and fissures may lie underneath can occasionally get a touch tiresome.

So I guess that some of you have put the bike aside, or are using it less, at this time of year. But I can also feel it in my bones that this will be another year in which more people take to their bikes, more often. In fact I confidently predict (it is after all the traditional time of year for prognostication) that 2014 will be another year when more Londoners and visitors to our city (re)discover the fun and convenience of getting around by bike.

But I also need no special insight to also confidently predict that road danger will deter many more from doing so. Mixing it with heavy and fast-moving traffic, coping with poor road design, and being on the receiving end of aggressive or inattentive driving plays heavily on peoples’ minds. Some soldier on – because the benefits and enjoyment outweigh the risk – while others are too put off to try it. Either way, we all agree that these risks are unacceptable, and the tragic price that is sometimes paid by cyclists – and pedestrians too – is too high.

That’s why Space for Cycling – LCC’s headline campaign for 2014 – must go big. Two years ago we had a profound impact not just in London but across the country with our Love London, Go Dutch campaign. As a result the Mayor and Assembly raised the bar for investment in cycling. With the local elections looming in May this year we have a chance to make sure the next layer down in London’s leadership – our borough councils – rise to the challenge of making London a safer and better place through cycling.

You must have heard it already, but just in case you haven’t, through Space for Cycling LCC will press every candidate in these elections to promise to take one, specific, high priority action in their patch to make cycling safer for people of all ages and abilities.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if, by the end of Space for Cycling, we had not only the Mayor and Assembly, but every London council besides committed to a continental-style transformation of our roads to put us truly onto a pathway towards becoming a cycling city?

There is of course a cost to delivering this huge ambition. It’s been absolutely brilliant to get major financial support from the likes of Evans Cycles and the Bicycle Association of Great Britain – as well as thousands of pounds in individual donations. But we are still short of the funds we need to maximise the chances of Space for Cycling succeeding.

If each LCC member and supporter made just a £2 donation we build a campaign fund that would enable us to saturate London during the local elections, taking the message to every candidate in every electoral ward. 

Will you help us? You can do so easily by clicking the 'Donate' button on this page. Please give whatever you can. With your help we can ensure Space for Cycling is another landmark campaign, making London a safer place for everyone who wishes to cycle.

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