Chris Boardman has expanded on his criticism of Chris Grayling after the Secretary of State for Transport made a distinction between cyclists and ‘road users’ earlier this week. British Cycling’s policy advisor says that Grayling “needs to get on a bike and experience the roads for himself,” offering to join him on a typical London cycle commute.
Boardman’s initial reaction was to say that he felt ‘embarrassed’ for Grayling, describing his comment as demonstrating “an astonishing lack of knowledge about how 7 million people regularly use the roads in this country.”
Writing in The Guardian, Boardman expands on this. He explains that not only is a cyclist’s right to use the road enshrined in law, it is also, more often than not, the best option available to them.
“If Grayling has any understanding of the concerns of the 7 million people who regularly cycle on Britain’s roads, then he would know that the vast majority of cycle lanes are inconvenient, poorly maintained and often dangerous. It is why most cyclists choose to cycle in the road. It is also the reason why just 2% of journeys are cycled, despite British Cycling having evidence that two-thirds of people would cycle if it were made safer.”
Grayling has previously said that he has not cycled since he was a student at Cambridge in the early eighties and Boardman believes that a little first-hand experience would go a long way.
“Grayling needs to get on a bike and experience the roads for himself. Only last month he complained about the hugely successful new segregated cycle lanes in London, now found on the Embankment and Blackfriars Bridge. They have increased the number of people cycling on these roads by over 70%, giving people safe, secure routes across central London, as well as getting people out of their cars and off public transport, and easing congestion on the roads and overcrowding on the London Underground.
“I would like to take Grayling on a typical London commute from zone 2 to his office in Westminster. We would experience cycling on busy roads without safe cycle lanes before feeling the difference made by the new segregated routes. He would see thousands of other people doing the same and see how it is quicker, more reliable and less stressful than being stuck in Clapham Junction during a rail strike, as he was this week. Then he will know what it really means to be a road user.”
Grayling’s comments have also been criticised by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, who said: "There is no place for attitudes such as Mr Grayling's, who has, in one clumsy comment, disregarded the safety of the millions of cyclists who regularly use our roads."