Up to 2,000 cyclists take part in London flashride

Organiser says MPs at Thursday's debate should ask themselves whether they would let their children ride to school

by Simon_MacMichael   February 22, 2012  

Palace Of Westminster At Night © Andrew Dunn.jpg

According to Metropolitan Police estimates, between 1,500 and 2,000 cyclists participated in tonight’s flashride from The Mall to the Houses of Parliament, where tomorrow evening MPs are due to hold a three-hour debate on the issue of cycle safety.

The ride, which left the Duke of York’s Steps at 6.30pm, was organised by the bloggers Danny Williams of Cyclists In The City and Mark Ames of I Bike London and was supported by the London Cycling Campaign, members of which helped marshal the event.

Williams was interviewed live from Parliament Square on BBC London News this evening, a seemingly endless procession of cyclists rolling past in the background.

Earlier today in the House of Commons, a hundred yards or so from where Williams was standing, Prime Minister David Cameron had said that he believed those who chose to cycle in Britain’s cities were aware that they were taking their life in their hands.

Asked if he agreed with that view, Williams said: “I thought he was completely spot-on. He’s absolutely right that it’s quite difficult to cycle in UK cities.

He continued: “The thing is it absolutely shouldn’t be difficult to cycle in the UK and that’s a factor of how much investment we put into the UK, which has been pretty minimal and pretty patchy.”

The Prime Minister had also highlighted investment that the government had recently made in cycling initiatives, but Williams was adamant that the amount of money set aside was woefully inadequate.

“If you think about £25 million, which is what he talked about today, for the whole of the country that’s equivalent to what, a train carriage…? It’s not really going to make a huge difference.”

The difference between the amount of money set aside here compared to our neighbours across the North Sea in the Netherlands was highlighted to the BBC by Eleanor Besley of Sustrans.

“We’ve currently got people being very supportive, the Prime Minister backed the campaign from The Times, but now we’ve got to see where the funding is going to go long-term,” she explained.

She added: “In the Netherlands they spend about £10 to £20 a head on making cycling safer and here it’s only £1 – a bit more in some places, but not much, and we need to see that money on the table.

Tomorrow’s adjournment debate, which will be attended by Transport Minister Norman Baker, whose portfolio includes responsibility for cycling, was tabled by Dr Julian Huppert, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group following the launch of The Times newspaper’s Cities Fit For Cycling campaign.

Representatives of The Times, which is publishing a dedicated supplement on its campaign tomorrow, were present at tonight's ride, as well as Brompton Bicycle, which is sponsoring the newspaper's initiative, as well as the Metropolitan Police - all of them described in a tweet by Ames afterwards as "fantastic."

Asked by the BBC what he hoped tomorrow's debate would achieve, Williams said: “What I’d really like to see is MPs thinking about ‘can my child cycle to school?’ I’d argue that in the UK at the moment, they can’t. The Prime Minister says they do. Really, they out to be.”

11 user comments

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Danny's simple question is spot on. My local MP is right behind the '20 is plenty' campaign and we meet next week to look at additional calming for road junctions around the 3 local schools to encourage more kids to cycle to school.

In the meantime: A message to the driver of the blue mini on Eshe Road L23 on this morning's school run doing 50mph in a 30mph only to turn into your drive. Make the most of it - you won't be speeding much longer. Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1072 posts]
23rd February 2012 - 0:08

2 Likes

£25M eh? Wow!! Just yesterday, the reworking of Frideswide square in Oxford was reportedly going to cost £3.7M, so we can run on that budget to 7 projects such as that, nationally.....
I quote (from http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/transport-fact-sheet-7.htm)
"Alternatively consider the Highway Agency’s estimate for a dual 3-lane motorway complete with hard shoulder of £25 million per mile. "
This estimate is admittedly 4yrs old so let's be generous and allow 2 miles of motorway...... £25M is still a laughable nod in the direction of cyclists at best, and a callous fob at worst in the face of almost £900M projected spend on roads (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2011/oct/06/road-bui...)

It doesn't get easier, you just go faster.....maybe

pward's picture

posted by pward [88 posts]
23rd February 2012 - 0:18

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Whilst thoroughly supporting everything they're doing, I would still love to travel in a train carriage worth £25m. I reckon ScotRail probably got change from a fiver for the one I'm in at the moment...

posted by Darkerside [62 posts]
23rd February 2012 - 8:25

2 Likes

Fantastic. Well done to all who turned up. I didn't and I don't have a good reason why I didn't - sorry.

That's a great turnout. Keep up the momentum. The funding is woeful but the politicians think we'll just put up with it. Please start planning the next ride.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
23rd February 2012 - 10:18

2 Likes

Wow!! 1,500 to 2,000 cycling entrants and no entry fee, might just catch on.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [963 posts]
23rd February 2012 - 10:42

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@ darkerside When it comes to trains, surely you know by now that cost and value bear no relationship to each other?

Danny probably meant a train - an eight-car unit of the Class 450 used by SW Trains costs all of £25m.

The Dutch don't spend "£10-20" per head on cycling, it is more than £20.

Philip Pank in The Times writing on the pros & cons of the eight point plan advanced cost as a reason against 20mph schemes, citing Portsmouth where the city-wide scheme cost £450k, but he didn't mention that this worked out at £360 per street.

posted by Paul M [315 posts]
23rd February 2012 - 10:57

2 Likes

Why not tag on a London Sportive on next time, with a few timed laps of Richmond park. Should get the bankers out...

Trev Allen's picture

posted by Trev Allen [165 posts]
23rd February 2012 - 11:12

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Trev Allen wrote:
Why not tag on a London Sportive on next time, with a few timed laps of Richmond park. Should get the bankers out...

Why not just focus on the issue of making the roads safer for all users?

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
23rd February 2012 - 11:18

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wrote:
David Cameron had said that he believed those who chose to cycle in Britain’s cities were aware that they were taking their life in their hands.

Not taking your life in your own hands - more like putting your life in the hands of those around you. I don't like Cameron's comment because it suggests that the risk to cyclists is one they should accept - even though I gather that Cameron is generally in support of the Times campaign, this comment really suggests he doesn't get it.

posted by step-hent [694 posts]
23rd February 2012 - 11:19

2 Likes

step-hent wrote:
wrote:
David Cameron had said that he believed those who chose to cycle in Britain’s cities were aware that they were taking their life in their hands.

Not taking your life in your own hands - more like putting your life in the hands of those around you.

My thoughts exactly!

I'd like him to say it to Mary Bowers, to Eilidh Cairns' family and all the grieving relatives we read about.

For anything to change Cameron needs to do something far more significant but he lacks the will to do it. As Martin Gibbs of BC states in today's Times article:

"I’m very pleased to see the Prime Minister engaging on this issue but it shouldn’t be the responsibility of The Times to create safer roads. For us to create a better cycling environment, we need top-down political leadership."

Fat chance. Sad

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2000 posts]
23rd February 2012 - 11:52

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I think that focusing on the amount of money spent is missing the point. Much more needs to be made of HOW the money is spent.

My local authority (waltham forest) has spent a fortune on advisory cycle lanes without any parking restrictions.

They can now claim to be cycling friendly, yet all they've done is waste my money!

posted by AleT [51 posts]
23rd February 2012 - 15:22

2 Likes