Olympic countdown - Reasons for a London Cycle Map, #32. It's just the beginning.

#32. IT'S JUST THE BEGINNING. Choosing between the LCC’s Go Dutch campaign and the London Cycle Map Campaign is like choosing between a few high quality car parts, or an unglamorous car that drives but needs a bit of work.

What do I mean by this?

Parker’s London Cycle Map is based on the concept of ‘minimum functioning’, which states that developers should make the minimum change necessary to achieve maximum functionality.

In the case of cycling in London, the required functionality is a safe network of easy-to-follow cycle routes. Parker has shown how we can achieve this through one small step: equipping the London Cycle Network with road markings and signs corresponding to the long, straight routes depicted on the London Cycle Map.

Doing so would enable cyclists to get from anywhere to anywhere on the LCN by remembering a few coloured routes, just like on the Tube: a magnificent result for such a minor investment (estimated at just £50,000 per borough). Londoners would be reassured by the thought of being able to cycle safely on quieter streets throughout the entire capital, and millions of people would soon take up cycling.

Compare this to the LCC’s proposal to build a handful of segregated cycling facilities on main roads in the capital. For this rather big investment, cyclists would get a rather small return. Does anyone really think that Londoners will start cycling en masse just because of a few new cycling facilities? New cyclists want to be consistently safe – an outcome which Parker’s London Cycle Map would make much more realistic – not just safe on a few main roads.

But here’s the best thing: a minimally functioning LCN would be just the beginning. Once the network was up and running, with millions of new cyclists using it, new investment would soon follow. The routes would get even better equipped, and even safer.

What’s more, this would have a knock-on effect throughout the whole capital. Once millions of people were using the LCN, cycling would spill onto other streets. This would create a demand for better cycle facilities all over London.

The moral is familiar: less is more. The LCC’s Go Dutch campaign may be promising a few high quality cycle developments, but these will hardly make any difference to cycling in London.

Meanwhile, the London Cycle Map Campaign is promising some new road markings and signs to get the London Cycle Network functioning to a minimum standard. It’s an unglamorous proposal, but it would be maximally effective, ushering in a golden age for cycling in London.


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