The leader of Ealing Council has said that “segregated cycle lanes are the answer” to road traffic congestion, the growing obesity crisis and premature deaths caused by air pollution.
Councillor Julian Bell’s remarks, which he made in a column for the Ealing Gazette, follow the deaths of two cyclists on the west London borough’s roads in recent weeks.
He wrote: "What can we do to tackle these challenges? May I suggest the humble bicycle is the answer!
“What we need is a major shift away from car use for particularly short journeys and get more people cycling and walking.”
But the Labour politician maintained that safe infrastructure was needed to encourage people to begin travelling by bike.
"Having been an active cyclist for the last six years, I am convinced of the health and environmental benefits of cycling, but in my conversations with non-cyclists, the one thing that puts people off is their worries about safety,” he explained.
"The concerns have been amplified by the tragic deaths of two Ealing cyclists in the last month in accidents involving lorries."
Last week, 86-year-old retired teacher Darshan Singh was killed when he was struck by a lorry while pushing his bike along South Road in Southall.
In October, former Metropolitan Police officer Claudia Manera, aged 51, died in hospital following a collision in West Ealing also involving a lorry.
Vigils were held following the deaths of both cyclists calling for safer streets for vulnerable road users.
"How do we tackle these very real fears and create a safer environment for cycling?” asked Councillor Bell.
"The critical thing is to create segregated cycle lanes and give cyclists their own protected road space.”
The borough missed out on Mini Holland funding when Boris Johnson was Mayor of London, but Councillor Bell said that Ealing was “originally promised significant money for a major transformation of Ealing town centre for cycling.
"Sadly, the previous Mayor never came up with his promises.”
He outlined steps the council was taking to improve the safety of cyclists, saying that it “has put in £500,000 of its own money and received match funding from TfL to do one element of the original scheme and build the cycle lanes from Ealing town centre along the side of Ealing Common that are nearing completion.
"We have also just bid for £8 million of 'Liveable Neighbourhood' funding from TfL for West Ealing that will include improvements for both cyclists and pedestrians around the Lido junction, if we get the money.”
He added: "Segregated cycle lanes are the answer and I will do all in my power to deliver them for Ealing."
A planned Cycle Superhighway in west London will pass just to the south of the borough, with a Transport for London consultation for the first phase from Kensington Olympia to Brentford closing at the end of last month.
A second consultation is due to be held next year for a subsequent extension to Hounslow via Syon Park and Isleworth.
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.