Cyclists in peril on London's streets

Cyclists in peril on London's streets

The past week has seen tragedy on the roads of the capital followed by sit-down protests from cyclists increasingly concerned about safety on the busy roads of London.

The concerns of cyclists are, unfortunately, nothing new but they have being given extra impetus by an awful spate of accidents which saw three cyclists and two pedestrians involved in fatal collisions within seven days.

Whitehall protests

Following the fatalities, hundreds of cyclists and sympathisers called on the government to ring-fence funding to improve safety for both cyclists and pedestrians.

The protest was held in front of the treasury building in Whitehall where a minute’s silence was also held in memory of cyclists Ben Wales, Karla Roman, and Anita Szucs who were tragically killed in separate incidents .

Donnachadh McCarthy, a spokesmen for the campaign group Stop Killing Cyclists, who organised the protest told the BBC : "We have had enough of the breadcrumbs - we need real spending.

"We have had two tiny superhighways built, but they have been a huge success."

"They are the germs of a revolution which should spread all across London."

The future of cycling in London

In the past we were treated to many newspaper photos and television news stories of former mayor Boris Johnson riding his bicycle and championing the benefits of cycling.

Cycle superhighways were built and the phenomenon of the Boris Bike was born.

The cycle hire scheme is so successful that last year saw a record breaking 10.3 million journeys being made on a Boris Bike, or Santander Cycles, to give them their official name.

But, despite the new cycle lanes, hire bikes, and a commitment to promoting the health and environmental benefits of cycling, there are concerns over whether sufficient funding will be found to provide the safe environment campaigners are demanding for cyclists. The uncertainty over the future of the Boris Bikes and the cancelation of the Westway segregation scheme adding to the unease.

Yet there is a pressing need for more cycle schemes, not only to improve safety but also because of the deteriorating quality of the air quality in London, with the first ever 'very high' toxic air alert being issued in January. There is a pressing need to reduce car pollution and converting motorists into cyclists will help the process.

What can we expect in 2017?

In December 2016, London's mayor Sadiq Khan outlined his plans to spend £770 on cycling schemes during his term of office.

Speaking to the Guardian Khan said: "With record amounts of money now committed for cycling in London, we will continue (with).....detailed plans for making cycling a safe and obvious choice for Londoners of all ages and backgrounds.”

The planned spending roughly equates to £17 per person which matches the per capita amount cycle friendly countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium spend.

However, it is a figure which is unlikely to curry favour with the Stop Killing Cyclists group who are lobbying for, 'double the Netherlands per person investment in cycling infrastructure and a comprehensive segregated cycling network within 5 years'.

The future of cycling in London

With so many people committed to cycling to work or college in London either because of principle, enjoyment or financial reasons it is clear massive improvements need to be made to the capitals cycling infrastructure.

Roads are becoming increasingly congested and segregated cycle routes are seen as the only way to reduce the appalling number of casualties on the capitals roads.

It is to be hoped the mayors pledge of funding can be augmented by central government to ease the plight of London's embattled cyclists.

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