Hundreds of cyclists are expected to take part in tomorrow evening’s flashride from The Mall to the Houses of Parliament, where on Thursday MPs are due to debate the issue of cycle safety, an issue that has received national attention since The Times launched its Cities Fit For Cycling campaign earlier this month.
The principal aim of the ride, which has been organised by bloggers Danny Williams of Cyclists in the City and Mark Ames of I Bike London, is to urge the government to address the safety of cyclists on the road by showing leadership in providing “people friendly solutions.”
The route, which passes through Parliament Square and past the Houses of Parliament, designed to focus MPs’ minds on the issue ahead of Thursday’s debate, to be held in Westminster Hall and which has been organised by Dr Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.
"This is a chance for Britain to really start taking safe cycling seriously,” said Ames.
“Not since 1996 and the launch of the National Cycling Strategy has the Government focused on encouraging more people to cycle and keeping them safe.
“That strategy aimed to quadruple cycling rates to 10% of all journeys by 2012 - this year - and failed miserably.
“It is time for our politicians to stop hoping that helmets, high vis and patchy provision of cycle training will do enough, and to look instead across the North Sea to Holland and Denmark to see how to really encourage more cycling."
Williams added: "We're expecting Mums, Dads, families with children - all kinds of people on bikes to join us on Wednesday.
“With ever increasing fuel and public transport costs people are desperate for a fit, fun and environmentally friendly form of transport.
“But they need the Government to lead in making our roads safer; with lower speed limits on residential roads and high quality cycling infrastructure on our big roads to keep us safe and to make cycling inviting for everyone.
“Our MPs must really seize the zeitgeist and act, else more people will be hurt."
The ride is supported by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), which earlier this month launched its Love London, Go Dutch campaign to encourage candidates in this May’s London mayoral elections to place the safety of vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians at the heart of their transport policies.
As part of the campaign, it unveiled images of how junctions such as Parliament Square could look if redesigned in line with its proposals (pictured above).
Ames added: "The way in which poorly painted narrow cycle paths disappear beneath parked cars and evaporate at dangerous junctions demonstrates the paucity of imagination in the UK's approach to creating safe conditions for cycling.
“The London Cycling Campaign's proposals show just how much more pleasant our urban environment could be for all, and so much more safe for people on bikes. I only hope our Members of Parliament can be bold and 'Go Dutch'."
A briefing paper prepared by the House of Commons library ahead of the debate cites Department for Transport statistics that show that 111 cyclists were killed in road traffic incidents during 2010, described as the lowest in six decades, although the same year saw 2,660 suffer serious injuries, the highest level since the turn of the Millennium.
Riders will assemble at the Duke of York’s Steps on The Mall tomorrow evening ahead of a 6.30pm departure. The route will take them through Parliament Square, across Lambeth Bridge, along the South Bank opposite the Houses of Parliament, back over Westminster Bridge and then back to The Mall via Whitehall and Trafalgar Square.
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.