#4. THE PEOPLE'S TOUR DE LONDON. Congratulations to Bradley Wiggens on his magnificent Tour de France victory. Those of Cycle Lifestyle’s readers who are perhaps casual or commuter cyclists may not be aware of the scale of Wiggins’s achievement. This year's Tour spanned 21 days, in a series of separate stages, and covered around 2,173 miles. Tour racers typically burn up 6,000-10,000 calories a day, riding an average speed of 24mph for 125 miles a day (with only two rest days), and scale the equivalent of three Mount Everests. The challenge is one of the most arduous in all of sport.
The fact that a Briton has won the Tour for the first time reflects the growing popularity of cycling on these shores. You often hear people bemoaning the ‘lack of a cycling culture’ in Britain, but things are changing. In London, particularly, cycling has been on the rise for decades.
But we shouldn’t get too fixated on the idea of a cycling culture. If any country has a cycling culture it’s France, yet only three per cent of journeys in the capital, Paris, are undertaken by bicycle. Watching the Tour racers finish the event on the beautiful Champs Elysees, it’s easy to forget that despite having its own hire bike scheme, similar to the Boris Bike scheme it inspired, Paris has hardly any more cycle journeys than London, where around two per cent of journeys are undertaken by bike.
So if it isn’t the lack of a cycling culture which is holding cyclists in Paris back, what is it? I suspect that Paris’s problems are the same as those of London (or any other metropolis): too many major roads and junctions blocking the path of would-be cyclists. It doesn’t matter how many hire bikes you line the streets with, if your city is a vast bowling green for trucks and buses, cyclists will shy away.
It was notable that the Tour riders traversed Paris on a network of signed routes, away from the traffic. If Paris’s regular network of cycle routes was as easy to follow as the Tour de France routes were, I have no doubt that more Parisians would cycle.
In London, we’ve got a cycle network which, like in Paris, is inadequately signed. Parker’s London Cycle Map shows how we could place coloured signs and trails of road markings throughout this network to make it possible for cyclists to get from anywhere to anywhere in the capital by following just a few coloured routes on safer, quieter streets.
The metropolises of London and Paris don’t need a cycling culture; they need a cycling infrastructure that's easy to access. A London Cycle Map would enable the people of London to ride, like triumphant Tour riders, on safe, signed cycle routes. Let’s show that Britain’s cycle development is world-beating too.