Tuesday 27 March 2012 12.54am
Wanted to drop you a line about the Londoners On Bikes campaign. It's a citywide thing, but as I work on Bermondsey St & have been signing people up around this way, thought I'd get in touch here.
Londoners On Bikes (LoB for short) is a volunteer-run campaign focused 100% on the Mayoral election, pushing for safer streets for cycling. Clearly this is important for people who ride bikes - or if one of your loved ones does - but equally if you need to drive but don't want to spend so much time stuck in jams, or take the bus & find it's overcrowded with secondary school kids the whole time, it's worth bearing in mind that something like 25% of Londoners would like to get about the place by bike some or all of the time, but most people are put off by the road conditions. And given 4 cycle fatalities within a mile of here in the past 2 years, you can't really blame them.
The opinion polls show Boris & Ken neck-and-neck in the race, so a relatively small voting bloc can have a huge influence & win some sizeable concessions. That's our goal, and if we can get well on the way to 10,000 sign ups in the next couple of weeks, we think we'll acheive it. We're just past 3100 as I write this. The way that London's roads are designed & controlled isn't entirely straightforward - some responsibilities are with the borough councils - and Southwark under Peter John must be commended for their recent change of heart in relation to cycling provision; but there's no doubt that the Mayor sets the overall tone, and he directs TfL who control most of the main roads in the area.
We're not traffic engineers - we don't tell politicians or councils how to fix the roads to make things safer, there are plenty of other organisations with that expertise. The campaign exists purely to extract some real political will and, yes, financial commitments to cycling from the candidates (the £35m that was spent on cycle superhighways sounds great until you realise that Ken Livingstone's modest 7% bus/tube fare cut is costed at £250m/y & motorways cost around £30m PER MILE).
I know money's tight at the moment, but it's a bit depressing that the mayoral election has degenerated in to "7% off buses & tube fares" vs "£30 off council tax". Firstly, for the lack of vision; second, £250m a year would, in a fairly short space of time, buy enough cycling infrastructure for almost the entire city to travel around safely, greenly and most of all.. free.
Anyway - what we need most of all is for people to sign up on our site, spread the word, and - if possible - volunteer. Any feedback you have would be gladly (probably) taken on board. The more signatures we collect in the next few weeks, the greater a chance we stand of changing things for the better!
WH (LoB volunteer)