#45. NEVER MIND GOING DUTCH, LET'S GO LONDON! The LCC’s Love London, Go Dutch campaign was presumably partly inspired by Cycle Lifestyle’s slogan Love London, Love Cycling, so I think it’s only fair that I borrow an idea from them.
In any case, going London is much more appropriate in London than going Dutch. The biggest city in Holland – Amsterdam – is very different to London, despite the LCC touting the former as a cycle development model for the latter. Whereas the population of London is 7,556,900, Amsterdam’s is just 790,654. And whereas London covers an area of 1583 squared kilometres, Amsterdam covers just 219 squared kilometres.
Clearly, cycle journeys in Amsterdam are shorter and easier to navigate. These two factors have helped to swell the numbers of people on bikes there, which itself has had a positive feedback effect, encouraging more people to cycle.
In contrast, lots more journeys in London require a car simply because of the distances involved and the difficulty of navigating by bike over those longer distances. Those cars, in turn, have had a negative feedback effect on cycling, scaring people off.
Without the problems of size and navigation, in Amsterdam cycle development tends to get more people cycling. But the same is not true in London. We’ve been developing the London Cycle Network for thirty years, yet it has hardly made any difference to the numbers of cyclists in the capital. The obstacles of bigness and navigation are just too severe.
We can’t do much about London being big (apart from riding electric bikes), but we can make cycle navigation easier here. Simon Parker’s London Cycle Map suggests an ingenious way of signing the London Cycle Network, to make it possible for cyclists to get from anywhere to anywhere in the capital by following a few coloured routes, just like on the Tube. With fewer cars, these routes would be less scary to new cyclists, and soon more and more cyclists would follow, reassured by the safety in numbers.
London and Amsterdam have different needs, and need different solutions. In Parker’s London Cycle Map, we should be celebrating a magnificent piece of British design – an innovative, world-leading solution to the problem of how to make cycling more accessible in a metropolis.
Never mind going Dutch, let’s Go London!