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Group of three by three smaller images of people who appeared in the London Loves Cycling campaign video

London Loves Cycling, wrapped up

The London 2024 Mayoral election is over with Sadiq Khan winning a third term as Mayor. So what did our campaign achieve?

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The campaign

The #LondonLovesCycling campaign was conceived to provide a strong and positive counterpoint to what clearly from the outset was set to be a grudge match between two pugilistic politicians over extremely negative ‘culture war’ portrayals of London. Several London commenters suggested that many of the candidates involved didn’t even seem to like London very much at all.

ULEZ particularly, but also cycle tracks, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and even 20mph zones became targets of a culture war with several candidates running terrifying, scaremongering attack ads (Susan Hall’s originally featured panicked commuters in New York who were fleeing a suspected gunman, but even when amended, still used a voiceover to scare Londoners over “ULEZ enforcers… faces covered in masks“!). But despite all this fearmongering and negativity, polling conducted just before the election found what Londoners actually intended to vote over was far simpler.

More in Common’s polling suggested top priorities were affordable housing, policing and crime, council tax, homelessness and better high streets. ULEZ was ninth on the list of things that could sway voting, below parking, potholes and social care and basically neck and neck with public transport, LTNs were only a concern for 5% (bottom of the list).

The campaign was conceived to mostly avoid such silliness to make a simple point: London loves cycling. There is increasingly less and less need to argue endlessly on point scoring social media – because when it comes to London, cycling has already won. TfL announced a few months before the Mayoral election that Londoners make circa 1.26 million cycle journeys daily now on average. That’s equivalent to a third of all tube journeys.

London’s ‘mode share’ of cycling is rising, as new safe cycle routes roll out, and cycling is diversifying as it becomes more and more available to a wider range of people. In other words, a huge swathe of London – around a quarter – cycles already in the city, periodically; and another circa a quarter wants to start. London is a cycling city, today. In this context, politicians who want to tell us all that cycling is somehow evil, or the schemes that help our kids to wobble, scoot and cycle to school are terrible, seem very foolish. On that basis, London Loves Cycling was conceived to simply point out the city cycles, that cycling is not just a good and sensible thing to enable on a policy basis – but it’s wildly popular and huge fun.

The political reaction

Both Zoe Garbett (Green Party) and Rob Blackie (Lib/Dems) gave messages of support to the campaign. Sadiq, given the polling, unsurprisingly did little to commit to any of the campaigns running during the Mayoral election. But he did wave at a passing Hackney London Loves Cycling ride saying “look at this, this is what we want to see”. Susan? No sign of any positive comments during her campaign on cycling, perhaps unsurprisingly.

The public reaction

It would probably be fair to say that we’ve never run a campaign as positively received as London Loves Cycling. While over a hundred thousand watched the video, hundreds of Londoners also emailed the candidates with their thoughts, and hundreds more, from social media influencers to allied organisations to individuals, joined in on social media with telling us what they love about cycling in London. But it was all the Londoners we met out and about with our colourful placards, popping up at dozens of events across the city during April that really reinforced the sheer joyfulness of this campaign.

April isn’t the driest month in London in general – but despite the rain and wind, we had placards and stickers grabbed out of our hands at inclusive cycling sessions, kids’ bike buses, and electric bike tryout days. Everyone from Lycra-clad roadie clubs to recovering cardiac patient rides wanted to be part of the campaign and were keen to tell politicians and the public that cycling in London is a joyous brilliant thing to do, but that the next Mayor better get on with making it far safer and more convenient for all Londoners.

What you told politicians

An apt summary of the campaign probably comes from the emails (where respondents were happy for us to use their words) to candidates. Here’s a smattering, more can be found here.

“Cycling has entirely changed my life for the better. My health has never been better and even on a rainy day where cars try to run me off the road, I will still arrive happier and more energised than if I had driven or taken public transport. Every Londoner benefits from more cycling, even those who don’t ride. This is THE silver bullet to reduce congestion, improve air quality, public health and boost the local economy.”

“We have used cycling as our primary means of transport since our children were babies. They are now 20 and 15 and committed happy cyclists.”

“I can choose my route home from work according to which shops I want to shop in, which friends I want to visit, which parks I enjoy riding through. The journey to work always takes the same time so I am never late. I keep fit at 68 years old I regularly ride 5000 miles each year.”

“The measures that have been introduced over time have allowed me to gain confidence (especially fully segregated cycled routes) culminating in me starting to cycle for the first time almost a year ago…  This has enabled me to encourage my 70 year old Dad to take up cycling, which has helped ease the chronic pain in his knee. His knee gets worse when walking or pressing the pedals in a car, but the cyclic movement of the pedals on his e-bike help to ease the pain. This has allowed him to be more active when caring for his 1 year old granddaughter.”

“I am a Community Nurse and cycling enables me to carry my kit and visit my patients efficiently and reliably… I can role model active travel and demonstrate to my patients that the easiest way of incorporating physical activity into daily life is by cycling.”

Who won?

Sadiq won a historic third term with a convincing share of vote at 43.8% of share to Susan Hall’s 32.7%. In other words, London does love cycling, and rejected politics that were anti-cycling. Indeed we now have a mayor committed to Net Zero London by 2030, to a Vision Zero of no more fatal or serious collisions and to rolling out a safe cycle network.

What next for LCC and London Loves Cycling?

We’re really keen to do two things, going forward…

Firstly, as ever, to continue campaigning for and helping with the transformation of London into a truly cycling city. The cyle tracks, routes through LTNs and other safe cycling so much of London is increasingly seeing, using, enjoying, are by no means evenly distributed. The experience of cycling through Hackney or Waltham Forest or Hounslow is vastly different to the experience cycling through Ealing or Bromley or Hillingdon. And indeed, even in Hackney, Waltham Forest and Hounslow there are still too many gaps, too many dodgy junctions, too many places where the network isn’t complete.

We need change across London and a cycle network that joins up and connects. We also need to do our bit in enabling a far wider range of people to use those new safe cycle routes too. We’ll keep pushing the Mayor but also every London council on that – and we really could do with your help – most importantly, if you’re not a member yet, click the join link below. Your voice helps hugely, as does your funding our campaigning.

Secondly, we’re also determined to not forget how London Loves Cycling really spotlighted the joy of cycling in our city. We’re absolutely going to roll on the brand to keep helping more Londoners not just cycle, but enjoy doing so – to love it even. So, if you’re new to cycling, or have loved it for years already, keep an eye on the rides and events we and our local borough groups will be putting on all year round (but yes, particularly when the weather’s at its best).

For now, remember, whoever wins the Mayoral election, London Loves Cycling.

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