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Cyclists respond to Lord Adonis "use cycle lanes" comments

After the former transport secretary asked whether cyclists should be allowed to use the carriageway where a cycle lane exists, cyclists give the answer

Last week Andrew Adonis, Former Transport Secretary and Chair of the Infrastructure Commission, asked whether cyclists should be allowed to use the carriageway where bike lanes exist.

The comments came as he retweeted an article, titled “London cycling campaigners must learn from the Charlie Alliston case”, published on the website of former Guardian columnist, Dave Hill, OnLondon.

Adonis commented: “So sad. Worrying trend: cyclists dodge superhighway/carriageway to avoid traffic lights. Common in Parliament Sq”, adding in a second tweet “Should cyclists be allowed to use carriageway where there is a superhighway? Welcome views.”

The initial response was one of disappointment. Some say he should know better. 

Twitter users began by pointing out the green light for cyclists is short at Parliament Square – five seconds according to this footage, resulting in long wait times during busy periods.

Our man, Dave Atkinson gave his two cents: get the infrastructure right, he says, and cyclists won’t need to use the carriageway.

Other examples of when use of a cycle route might not be viable were readily available.

Guardian journalist, Peter Walker, makes a point about Adonis' choice of source.

In a fortnight that has seen cyclists singled out for accusations of being a much bigger danger on the roads than the evidence shows, Adonis' comments prompted a wave of sighs and collective sarcasm.

The most thoughtful of the latter, highlighting the prejudice usually reserved for cyclists, was from Mark Treasure, of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain.

In a piece titled Superhighway users dodging infrastructure to avoid traffic lights, Treasure turns the dialogue typically reserved for cyclists to pedestrians, by a tongue in cheek piece accusing “militant walkists” of ignoring the infrastructure built at "great expense" especially for them. He says despite there only being a wait of several minutes to cross the road twice to avoid super sewer works alongside London’s East-West Cycle Superhighway, on the Victoria Embankment, with clear maps instructing them how to proceed, many simply walked along the cycle route for a few hundred metres.

Adonis appears to have blocked Treasure after he pointed out bikes with only one brake are common in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile Labour MP for Exeter, and champion of cycling, Ben Bradshaw, offered his help.

As chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, which advises the government independently on transport infrastructure, Lord Adonis reaps benefits for cycling, too. 

Earlier this year he tasked former London Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, to work with councils and organisations in Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford, "to create a vision of what is required for cycling to become a 'super attractive' mode of transport in these three cities". Gilligan has been looking at what can be delivered in these places, and what funding will be needed. This is part of a wider "growth corridor" vision.

A sensible suggestion, made by Adonis, is that three sides of Parliament Square should be cycle/pedestrian, reducing through motor traffic – an intervention the London Cycling Campaign has long called for. Well, two sides, anyway.

One person urged Adonis to consider the wider safety issues around physical activity, or a lack thereof.

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