Safer In The City? Safer on #TaviPlace

There seems to be some confusion (on twitter) about recent campaigning events around the City of London’s “Safer In The City” event and a co-signed statement between London Cycling Campaign, The LTDA and the City; and the London Cycling Campaign actions to ensure the current temporary Tavistock Place scheme becomes permanent. So…

Safer in the City

Recent research from the City of London on Police statistics of cycle-vehicle collisions found a worrying number of collisions between taxis and those cycling in the borough. The City of London suggested a co-signed statement at their “Safer in the City” event, between the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (the main body for black cab drivers in London), London Cycling Campaign and the City. (And the LTDA provided a liveried taxi that will drive around the city.)

The most important ways to reduce collisions are through “road danger reduction” (eliminating and designing out danger at source), including by redesigning infrastructure and behaviour. The statement proposed was:

A responsible cabbie: “Always checks for cyclists before opening doors. Always checks for cyclists and indicates before performing U-turns or pulling in to pick up/drop off passengers. Always checks for cyclists when manoeuvring and sticks to the speed limit. Always checks there is safe room to pass before overtaking cyclists.”

A responsible cyclist: “Always looks out for taxis and avoids ‘undertaking’ when a cabbie indicates to pick up/drop off a fare. Always takes account of the conditions, and slows down on busy streets. Always indicates clearly when making a turn and looks out for other road users when overtaking or changing lanes. Always makes sure they have working lights for cycling in the dark.”

Given these are all sensible and self-evident behaviours we’d seek all people on bikes and in cabs to do, London Cycling Campaign agreed to co-sign the statement. London Cycling Campaign often provides safety advice for those cycling and will work with other road users and authorities to improve safety for all.

The hope is that engaging constructively with the LTDA, who say they’re keen on more cycling infrastructure, segregated tracks for cycling and reducing danger for those cycling, will lead to the organisation taking better positions on cycling in the future. And at the least, LTDA cabbies will receive promotional messages to drive responsibly. None of this in any way alters or detracts from the main campaigning aims or actions of the London Cycling Campaign.

Tavistock Place

Almost immediately after this initiative was launched, and Steve McNamara of the LTDA explained that the organisation didn’t oppose cycle tracks, the LTDA then proceeded to publicly oppose Camden’s proposals to make the incredibly popular cycle tracks on Tavistock and Torrington Place permanent.

In other words, the LTDA opposed cycle tracks, despite saying they wouldn’t. They not only tweeted opposition but also distributed biased and misleading leaflets to residents in the area around Tavistock Place.

Some have said that it was predictable that the LTDA would choose to do this; that they are using the London Cycling Campaign as a figleaf. But either the London Cycling Campaign treats the LTDA as the enemy, and the LTDA will then in turn engage with the London Cycling Campaign on that basis, or there has to be some form of constructive engagement with the LTDA, that lets campaigners hear what they have to say and hold them to their word.

On this occasion, the LTDA are the ones who have betrayed their publicly-expressed sentiments – not the London Cycling Campaign.

If The LTDA supports cycle tracks, it is time, perhaps, for them to explain more clearly why they don’t support #TaviPlace, why they didn’t support the East-West or North-South and why they don’t support CS11.

Hopefully the LTDA can provide answers. If not, certainly cycling campaigners can use their efforts to hold them to account. Meanwhile, the London Cycling Campaign will continue to promote not just improved safety for cycling in London, but the conditions needed to support mass cycling.

So, if you want to do three things to help:

  1. Be a member– and hold London Cycling Campaign to account as members via the democratic process. Without your membership London Cycling Campaign doesn’t have the voice to call for huge wins it has got (recently these include: the North-South and East-West Cycle Superhighways; the new Mayor’s commitment to ‘direct vision’ lorries, to tripling protected space on Cycle Superhighways, putting a mini-Holland town centre in every borough and fixing the remaining of the 33 ‘Better Junctions’).
  2. Support #TaviPlace by filling out the consultation.
  3. Ask the LTDA why they don’t support #TaviPlace CS11 or the East-West if they say they do support protected space for cycling.