Olympic countdown - Reasons for a London Cycle Map, #68. It dares to dream.

#68: IT DARES TO DREAM. Of course it would be a good idea to equip London with a comprehensive cycle network, one that’s signed according to the coloured routes depicted on Simon Parker’s London Cycle Map, enabling new cyclists to ride throughout the capital on safe, direct and easily navigable streets.

But an all-too common response to Simon’s proposal is to say “good idea, but you’ve got no chance of succeeding” – a remark which somehow manages to be both encouraging and discouraging at the same time.

I’m more frustrated than pleased by this kind of response. It strikes me as indicative of a certain moany attitude which is prevalent in times of economic stagnation.

I’m talking about people who declare loudly what needs to be done yet show a lack of commitment to the task. St Peter is reported to have said “I see the good, yet I do only evil”. Moaners see the good yet do nothing. They wheel out their disillusionment like a bike they won’t learn to ride.

Thankfully the “you’ve got no chance” response is as ignorant as it is lazy. Britain is a place, remember, where many great achievements have flowed from disillusionment.

William Wilberforce successfully campaigned to abolish slavery; Robert Owen built a prosperous mill town which provided unrivalled living conditions for its resident employees; Thomas Walkey founded the Lancet, a publication which exposed cronyism in the surgical profession; Charles Trevelyan campaigned for a more meritocratic civil service; Emily Pankhurst formed the Women's Social and Political Union which brought about universal suffrage; and John Bird created the The Big Issue, which provides its vendors with a route out of homelessness.

I’m not saying that a London Cycle Map would rank alongside these achievements in importance. I’m simply pointing out the depths of apathy and bureaucratic inertia that Britain has fallen into when people find it unthinkable that the capital’s cycle network could be mapped and signed properly.

If you ever find yourself doubting whether the London Cycle Map Campaign can succeed, then why not turn your doubt into action. Sign the petition. Join us on facebook and twitter. Tell your friends about the campaign. Champion it in a blog, or write to your MP. Put up a poster. Put our campaign logo on your website. You could even get a T-shirt printed – just get in touch on info@cyclelifestyle.co.uk and we’ll email you the logo in high-res.

In the end, the public gets what the public wants. Do you want a London Cycle Map?



Hi Ben, thank you for writing

Hi Ben, thank you for writing this piece, though how disappointing it is that it needed saying.

"Certainly the task is ambitious," says 'Cycling: the way ahead for towns and cities', "but the essential thing is to take the first step because, while use of the bicycle is a choice for the individual, it is essential to launch the process by which your city builds on the initiatives and habits of some of your fellow citizens for a healthier urban environment."

The disturbing thing from my point of view is that the naysayers find ways to not even take that first step.

"The network can be introduced on the basis of an overall plan (preliminary plan). Ideally, such a plan ought to be based specifically on cycle routes that have been studied [...]. If it is not possible to systematically remodel the entire network to better meet the needs of cyclists, specific action can be taken on each occasion that works need to be done. Most of the time, the additional expenditure needed to meet the requirements of cyclists is comparatively minimal."

Having taken that first step, we can resolutely and purposefully continue our journey towards to our destination. For some people, unfortunately, even that first step is too difficult.

Thanks Simon - interesting

Thanks Simon - interesting stuff.

Yours is a reasonable proposition stuck between two extremes of unreason: (i) noncyclists' fear of cycling, and (ii) current cyclists' resentment towards, and lack of empathy for, non-cyclists.

Despite formidable obstacles, reason usually wins the day, however!

User login

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.