Cycle and environmental campaigners in London have marked today’s World Car Free Day by riding and walking from Blackfriars Bridge to the offices of Transport for London (TfL) offices to call for a change in the capital’s transport policy, under the banner ‘Cycle for London.’
Specifically, the campaigners, led by the group Climate Rush, which drew up today’s initiative, were looking to lobby TfL staff on three issues where it is looking for a commitment from the body – “an open and democratic TfL that values people over cars,” “a 20mph speed limit throughout central London,” and “car-light and car-free areas of London.”
Those three themes are each expanded upon in an overview of today’s event on the website of Climate Rush, which takes as its inspiration the Suffragette movement of around 100 years ago that succeeded in winning the vote for women.
Among those joining it this morning were representatives of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), while Blackfriars Bridge marked a symbolic departure point, having been the focus of protests over recent months by cycling advocates as a result of the decision by TfL and Mayor Boris Johnson to scrap a temporary 20 mile an hour speed limit there.
Yesterday, Climate Rush had publicised this morning’s event with a message edged on the walls of the Rotherhithe Tunnel beneath the Thames, created using “reverse graffiti” – in other words, by cleaning off the dust and grime, which also showed just how filthy the environment is down there.
The creation of the work, a six-foot high picture of a bicycle with the slogan ‘Pollution Solution’ next to it, was captured in a YouTube video, shown below.
Spokesperson Alice Haworth-Booth said, "Toxic air, hundreds of road deaths, as well as the most congested streets in Europe: this is Transport for London’s gift to the capital.
"For as long as Transport for London values cars above people, neither our streets nor our lungs will be safe.
"It’s time their attitude changed. Our clogged up streets can’t carry this capacity any more, and our polluted lungs are taking the strain. People should be encouraged to leave their car at home, jump on their cycle or use public transport and walk."
Mike Cavenett from LCC added: "Not all cyclists think of themselves as environmentalists, but every time we choose to cycle or walk instead of using motorised transport, we're reducing CO2 and air pollution.
"London has the potential to be a clean, green and efficient city, but only if politicians and civil servants work towards streets that encourage walking and cycling."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.