Saturday, 16 November 2013


This is an impassioned plea for you to work with the London Cycling Campaign and other cycling bodies to improve our cycling infrastructure urgently. If you only read and action that, then my job is partly done.

I love cycling more than I fear it. I can’t believe I wrote the last bit of that sentence. However, the horrendously sad news that five London cyclists have died in nine days seem to be continuing this dangerous perception of cycling.

It makes me sad.
It makes me sad that this is a perception, but more sad that five people have lost their lives on London’s roads and that five families and countless friends have lost a loved one. The perception is a reality.

I hear you spout ‘that cycling in London is statistically safe’. After five deaths in nine days, it clearly is not.

Listening to radio debates and reading your response to these events, I can’t help thinking that people are really missing the point. Enough of this cyclist versus motorist nonsense. Cyclists do this, motorists do that, blah, blah, blah. It’s boring talk, and whilst each side may have a valid point, what does shine through strongly in this debate is that cyclists AND motorists need to co-operate, respect each other and get educated. However, most importantly, the infrastructure in London needs urgent change.

Three out of five of the deaths took place on Superhighway 2, between Aldgate and Bow and the woman who died at Bow is the third cyclist to have died there in two years. Enough!

Cyclists and the London Cycling Campaign have been calling for this junction and others to be made safe for years. Why are you not listening? Why are you prioritizing the quicker flow of motor traffic over cycling safety? We don’t need more blue paint on our roads Mr Johnson. They clearly don’t work. They give cyclists a false sense of security and allow traffic around them to drive with less care and attention. The lanes can suddenly stop, pushing the cyclist out in to the traffic. Vehicles come out of junctions encroaching hugely in the blue lane, squeezing the cyclist’s space further.

Oh, how I dream of a proper segregated cycle lane! Not just for space, but so I can cycle on a smooth road surface without swerving erratically to dogde potholes and solid waves of tarmac created by bigger vehicles. How often would you need to resurface a segregated cycling lane? Wouldn’t the cash saved in the long run pay towards increasing better infrastructure for cyclists and other road users?

All five of the deaths in the last nine days were caused by HGVs or buses. This is no coincidence. Whilst I appreciate your tips on the TFL website advising how to cycle with big vehicles, more needs to be done to educate on both sides. ALL London bus and HGV companies should have COMPULSORY cycle training. It should be a mandatory part of the driving test for everyone. Cyclists should get in the cab of a lorry and bus and see it from the drivers point of view, and may I be struck down by lightning by the cycling lobby, but all cyclists should have lessons before they cycle on the road. Whilst many boroughs do give free or subsidized cycle training, some do not. If every school in London and the UK made cycle training part of the curriculum, like they do in the Netherlands, we would have a new generation of safer drivers and cyclists. It’s a no-brainer!

Education takes time, but our poor cycling infrastructure does not have this time. We need to remove ALL barriers and dangers for people. We need to normalize cycling, but we can’t do this without your co-operation.

Can you please work with the London Cycling Campaign and do as they request?

• Install temporary protected space for cycling at Aldgate without any delay
• Commit to installing cycling and pedestrian-specific traffic lights at Bow roundabout
• Publish a timetable to upgrade the whole of Superhighway 2 from Aldgate to Bow
• Review and improve other dangerous junctions in London

Mr Johnson, if you want to make London in to the ‘Cycling City’ that you profess, then you need to take action now. Cycling infrastructure is seriously lagging behind your cycling policies.

Let this be your legacy Mr Johnson. Stop making people fear cycling. Stop these avoidable deaths. I love cycling and want it to be safe for everyone.
Make cycling safe.

Yours sincerely,

Mandy Norman

All views are my own.
Photographs taken from the London Cycling Campaign's website.
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