Olympic countdown - Reasons for a London Cycle Map, #21. Telling it like it is.

#21. TELLING IT LIKE IT IS. In an astonishing exaggeration, the LCC announced today: ‘Mayor tells Transport for London to Go Dutch’.

He did nothing of the sort! Boris Johnson sent a letter to the LCC which vaguely waffled about mandates, jobs, modernisation and task forces, then added this:

“I have asked TfL to review the “Go Dutch” campaign to ascertain how the principles it establishes can be incorporated into the design and implementation of cycling schemes in London, taking into account the UK legal framework and regulations, the physical constrains of London’s streets, and the needs of all road users.”

Hallelujah, a review! A review which will take into account the ‘physical constraints of London’s streets’ (which I have previously drawn attention to) and ‘the needs of all road users’ (which I have also drawn attention to), and will no doubt conclude that there is scope for approximately... three new Go Dutch schemes on main roads this mayoralty, just as the LCC ‘demanded’.

Can I be the first to say what a waste of money this whole pantomime is?

I don’t know the exact budgets of TfL and the LCC, but TfL is spending over a hundred million pounds on the Cycle Superhighways alone (so basically its cycling budget is enormous), while the LCC boasts around 11,000 members who pay (a maximum rate of) £34 per annum, and it receives funding from charitable grants, TfL and local authorities, as well as through ad revenue from its website and the London Cyclist magazine.

And for all this investment, what's the best that the LCC and TfL can come up with? Respectively, a marketing-led proposal to make London more like Holland and a review of that proposal – a proposal which, even if successful, would require centuries to turn London into a cycling city.

The best thing the LCC has come up with is their ‘Love London’ slogan – and that was presumably inspired by Cycle Lifestyle's (without any acknowledgement of our magazine or of the work we have put into distributing 90,000 free cycling magazines in London over the last three years).

The saddest thing is, there will be no outcry. The LCC’s members will diligently record onto a new interactive map the locations of London’s most dangerous cycling roads and junctions (as if TfL doesn’t already know where they are), and TfL will diligently decline to upgrade the cycling infrastructure on the vast majority of those roads and junctions because of the ‘physical constraints of London’s streets’ and the ‘needs of all road users’.

And while those LCC members fiddle around with their smart phones – inputting data and feeling empowered – the internet will suck up their enthusiasm like the perfect totalitarian sponge.

With the combined money and manpower of TfL and the LCC, not to mention their members, we could, by now, have fitted out the London Cycle Network to a truly world-class standard. The thirty years of investment which have already gone into that network could have been built on, to create the brilliant system of long, straight routes depicted on Parker’s London Cycle Map. Any remaining dodgy parts of the network could have been developed many times over, and Londoners could then have ridden from anywhere to anywhere in the capital on safer, quieter streets, following just a few coloured routes, like on the Tube.

Instead, we’ve got a marketing blitz promising to make London more like Holland, three new cycle schemes at a time.

At that rate, the only way London is going to end up like Holland is when they’re both under water due to global warming.


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