Olympic countdown - Reasons for a London Cycle Map, #85: Making cycling more inclusive

#85: MAKING CYCLING MORE INCLUSIVE. It is lamentable that, on the whole, cycling in London is currently practised and championed by what Andrew Gilligan in his excellent new article has called ‘a disproportionately wealthy and privileged minority’.

This lack of inclusivity is especially troublesome given that the people who could benefit most from cycling seem to be the least predisposed to it. If only they would cycle, London’s less affluent residents could save hundreds of pounds a month on transport costs, including rail fares and driving expenses.

Typically, cycling campaigners display a peculiarly ambivalent attitude to this demographic. On the one hand, the cycle lobby tends to be left-leaning – Boris is the baddy, Ken the Goody, Jenny the Saint. According to this mindset, social justice is the great ideal, and cars and capitalism are the enemies.

Yet, on the other hand, this attitude makes enemies of the regular people cycling campaigners are supposed to be ‘sticking up for’; there is an undeniable whiff of contempt for non-cyclists emanating from the capital’s cycle lobby.

So how do we stick up for non-cyclists without sticking it up ‘em? We must acknowledge, and therefore legitimate, their twin concerns: navigation and safety. We must recognise, as a matter of fact not opprobrium, that very few Londoners have the cognitive ability to plot a cycle route through the capital’s fiercely intimidating streets. And then, if we really care, we should address this fact directly - we should try to help out!

A London Cycle Map, with it’s easy to follow colour-coded routes, would make life so much easier for the Londoners who need cycling the most. A properly signed London Cycle Network would amount to a genuinely free and accessible public transport system in the capital. Now that’s an ideal worth campaigning for.


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