Cycling in London could be in line for a major seasonal boost with the news that London underground staff are to stage six one day strikes in support of two colleagues they say were unfairly dismissed by London Underground.
Strike action will be of varying lengths ranging from between 9 and 24 hours says the Rail, Maritime, & Transport Union whose members are taking the action. The strikes will take place over on the week commencing Monday 16th May and run through to Friday 20th May and then again in June from Monday 13th through to Friday 17th.
If previous tube strikes are anything to go by London should see a marked increase in the numbers of cyclists on its streets. During a series of rail strikes last autumn traffic along the two Barclays Cycle Superhighways which run in to the City of London from the south and east increased markedly as did usage of London's hire bike scheme.
Encouraging cycling has played a part in Transport for London's strategy to minimise disruption during tube strikes for the last couple of years - in 2009 TfL built on the series of Bike Tube rides organised the LCC during a series of strikes in the summer of 2009 and wheeled them out again last year - with it has to be said varying degrees of success. TfL also wrote to hundreds of businesses across London asking them to be flexible and make it easy for staff to cycle to work, and to allow staff to wear casual clothes on the day.
A TfL spokesperson confirmed to road.cc that all options as regards encouraging cycling during the tube strike are on the table again this time round but that planning for any extra provision for cycling is still at an early stage, while the London Cycling Campaign told us they too are considering what can be done to help maximise the numbers of cyclists on the street during the strike and to give information and encouragment to novice riders tempted to give it a go. The Mayor's office have as yet stayed silent on the subject although we can surely expect some comment on the irony of industrial unrest on the tube helping fuel the Mayor's own transport revolution.
What we can say fairly confidently is that it will be very busy around hire bike stations on strike days and if you are a regular London commuter already - you'd better prepare to meet some new friends. Lots of them.
To find out more about cycling during the tube strike and cycling in London in general visit the cycling section of the TfL website at www.tfl.gov.uk and the London Cycling Campaign website at www.lcc.org.uk a shiny new version of the LCC site should be up and running in time for the strike too.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.