With less than a week to go till Thursday's London mayoral election, the current holder of the post, Boris Johnson, has become the last of the five main candidates to pledge his support to the three key demands of its Love London, Go Dutch campaign. The news comes on the eve of The Big Ride, which thousands of cyclists are expected to attend, and which calls on the candidates to embrace the initiative which was launched earlier this year. Perhaps more pertinently, it comes 24 hours after his chief rival, Ken Livingstone, had himself backed the campaign.
Since becoming mayor in 2008, the Conservative mayor , introduced the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme but has come under criticism especially in recent months for the perceived inadequacy of his much vaunted Barclays Cycle Superhighways and a transport policy that prioritises traffic flow but according to campaigners compromises the safety of vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.
He now joins his predecessor as mayor, Labour's Mr Livignstone, the Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick, the Green Party's Jenny Jones and Independent candidate Siobhan Benita in endorsing the campaign, with his move coming after what LCC described as "intensive lobbying" on its part.
A detailed description of the three principal Love London, Go Dutch demands can be found on the LCC website, but in brief, they are, in the group's own words:
1 - Implement three flagship Love London, Go Dutch developments on major streets and/or locations
2 - Make sure all planned developments on the main roads that they controls are completed to Go Dutch standards, especially junctions.
3 - Make sure the Cycle Superhighways programme is completed to Love London, Go Dutch standards.
While all five main candidates have now pledged their support to those priniciples, as LCC points out, there are of course differences in what their transport policies actually say about cycling and other issues related to London's streets.
LCC's chief executive Ashok Sinha commented: “We’re delighted to give Boris Johnson an ‘A-grade’ for his promise to learn from the successful Dutch model to make London’s streets as safe and inviting for cycling as they are in Holland.
“We now have a commitment to a Dutch-style cycling revolution from all the main candidates, with the promise of immediate action in the next mayoralty.”
“Johnson must still do a lot more to catch up with the other candidates in other areas of cycling policy, but it’s fantastic news that he has responded to Londoners by committing to meet the three key tests of the Love London Go Dutch campaign.”
Many Londoners who use bicycles won't base the decision of which candidate to vote for purely on his or her cycling policy, but as the campaign group Londoners on Bikes points out, transport is the one area in which the city's mayor wields real executive power; by virtue of their office, the mayor is also chairman of Transport for London, appoints its board, and formulates the city's transport policy.
Unlike in a general election, there is also the fact that next Thursday, Londoners will be able to vote not only for the candidate the believe should be mayor, but also for a second preference candidate.
On Monday, four of the mayoral candidates - Mr Johnson, Mr Livingstone, Mr Paddick and Ms Jones - will participate in a special hustings organised jointly sustainable transport charity Sustrans and The Times at which they will debate the eight demands of the newspaper's Cities Fit For Cycling campaign.
The group Londoners on Bikes, which was set up specifically to campaign for candidates to adopt cycle-friendly policies including those aimed at improving the safety of riders, has said that on Monday evening it will reveal which candidate it believes has the best credentials to represent those who choose to use a bicycle to get around the city, following detailed analysis of their proposed policies.
As the LCC and other campaigners point out, it is possible to switch from a car-centric culture to one that puts bicycles and pedestrians at the centre of transport policy.
In the Netherlands itself, that change did not happen until as late as the mid-1970s, with this short film explaining the factors that came together to pave the way for today's bike friendly Dutch cities.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.