Stopping the cyclists at More London

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Current: 7 of 20
Ann Warren Wednesday 16 August 2006 7.40am
Having recently visited Copenhagen, I find this argument between cyclists and pedestrians completely surreal. I have always campaigned quite hard for both groups, as they seem to me to be natural allies.

In Copenhagen, cyclists do not break the rules because the rules are written with cyclists in mind. All the main traffic routes have nearly half their width dedicated for the exclusive use of bicycles (and rollerblades and electric invalid vehicles). Most of the streets in the city centre are completely closed to motor traffic, so cyclists and pedestrians use them together. All cyclists are pedestrians and most pedestrians are cyclists. People cycle in frocks and flipflops and no-one over the age of three wears a helmet. White Van Man cycles, carrying huge loads on his special builder's bike. The air is clean. You can hear footsteps and children laughing. Property prices are astronomical - everyone wants to live there. (Apart from me that is, because I'm in love with London. Copenhagen is just... well, Danish.)

As reported to Southwark Cyclists: In Copenhagen I saw a very elderly man, at least 80, cycle slowly along one of the city's principle routes carrying an unweildy package including a large bunch of flowers on the back of his bike. The flowers wobbled, the package dislodged and bicycle and gentleman fell to the ground. He was gently picked up and dusted down by the next two cyclists - both fabulously beautiful women, one twenty-something, one thirty-something. He protested, mildly and sheepishly, then cycled off, pink and twinkly. Is it likely your father or grandfather could enjoy such an adventure in London any time soon?

London cycle lanes are much too narrow, ending just when you most need them, noisy, dirty, full of buses, always invaded by vehicles you wouldn't want your children to mix with, often "advisory" - whatever that means. Not really any priority for cycles at all. To cycle on London's main streets, you need to be fit, fast and aggressive and wear unusual clothing, but that's the fault of transport engineers, not cyclists.

You will dismiss me as an impractical dreamer, but I don't want to go on living in an unecessary nightmare without trying to do something about it. Copenhagen was once a filthy mess of motor traffic too, but they took some hard decisions and made it work for them. Their transport system now works extremely efficiently. As I'm sure you can tell, there's no doubt in my mind who should think of mending their ways. If you really, really need to drive everywhere all the time, then perhaps one of Europe's great centres of global civilisation is not best able to meet your needs. Have you thought of other places, like Los Angeles, or Basingstoke?

Ann
ADT Wednesday 16 August 2006 12.35pm
London is just too big for a Copenhagen type system to work. There are large numbers of people working in central London who live too far away to cycle, and they often need buses & taxis as part of their journey to work. Deliveries also need good road networks, for vans, courier firms etc. Many businesses are reliant on getting products and documents in and out of London quickly.

I walk to work as I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do so, and I do enjoy the quiet patches more than the busy roads, but there is no way I'd advocate stopping drivers completely as it would cripple the city. Ann perhaps you are the one not suited to "one of Europe's great centres of global civilisation"? I have seen similar incidents of a wobbly old person falling off a bike & being helped up by bright young things in Cambridge for example.
albertobalson Thursday 17 August 2006 9.26am
I have made a special effert in the last two days to walk along the river between Tower and London Bridge to try and spot ny signs on the More London bit which prohibit cycling. Despite activly looking for them I saw none although I finally spotted the ones by the Hornimans pub and Kwan Thai which were neatly tucked away. If More London want cyclists to discmount they should put a clear markings on the pathways themselves (maybe a cyclist with a big across through them). But can someone please tell me where these signs are!
bluetigeruk Monday 21 August 2006 3.39pm
I cycle evey day - and i always jump lights, it is the safest way to ride.

What i mean is, by waiting until all routes are clear - to peds and cars, no traffic? Yes then jump that light.

WHY? Because if you wait for the light to change you get boxed in by the traffic, if you jump you are 50 - 100 m ahead of it so when they reach you they are not concentrating on our accelerating each other.

Also, there are no cycle lanes at junctions, so you have no protection, jumping the light gets you on into the bus lane and protected.

Thats what i think.

BLUE
Ann Warren Monday 21 August 2006 3.57pm
" stopping drivers completely .. would cripple the city. "

Of course. That's not what I'm asking for and not what they do even in Copenhagen.

But we do need to offer Londoners a real choice. Currently there is a major disincentive to cycling in London. This is not because London is too big or too hilly. The average commuting time (all modes) in London is 50 minutes and the average traffic speed is 8 mph. Even cycling slowly round the back streets with 3-speed gears on small wheels and in office clothes, I do seven miles (SE16 to SW7) in 55 minutes. It's much less tiring than the underground.

What stops people cycling is the overwhelming domination of motor traffic. It is possible to escape from it, but not if you want to take a direct route or cross the river. There isn't a single adequate cycle lane on any of the bridges.

Being married to someone who thinks that 'going for a drive' is a normal leisure pursuit in its own right, I believe that quite a large proportion of motor journeys could be avoided without diminishing the economic or social potential of the city at all. I do know very well that cars can be a lot of fun - I did write off four of the damn things before 1980 - but I think I should be encouraged to cycle, don't you?

Ann
JonR Monday 21 August 2006 5.08pm
BlueTiger - i don't mean this in a bad way, but i hope you have an accident (whilst jumping a red light), and then realise what an arse you are being by jumping red lights!

not only are you putting yourself at risk, but other road users as well.

Please desist!
for the safety of everyone!

You are a road user, and by jumping a red light you are breaking the law. Hence i also hope that you get stopped by the police, or a traffic warden, and on the spot fined, with points off your licence (if you drive, and have a licence that is). it's the least you deserve. You're the person that gives all carfull cyclists a bad name.

i don't care if you think you are cycling safely, you're not. You are doing things which other road users don't expect you to do. This is inconsiderate, dangerous, foolhardy, ignorant, arrogant, .... and probably lots of other things too!

(as an example, if you get hit by a bus, because you jumped a red light - who's fault would it be? yes you guessed it, yours, and who would end up worse off? you or the bus? yep right again, you.)

.....

do you think that's too much of a rant?!

yes? tough!

happy cycling

JonR
SG Tuesday 22 August 2006 9.20am
To albertobalson, I checked again for the signs this morning and saw only two. One is opposite "The Scoop" on one of the lampposts next to the river, and the other is on the east side of HMS Belfast.
Again, yesterday morning a More London security guard was trying to stop cyclists along this part of the river path. Had a nice "discussion" with him. My two major bugbears: bad signage and the fact the mayor uses pictures of cycling along this part of the river to promote cycling in London....
JonR Tuesday 22 August 2006 4.27pm
Just seen this article on the BBC news page, all about who can and can't, legally, use pavements and highways.

it probably makes things even more confusing.
GjF Wednesday 23 August 2006 8.16am
Blue Tiger- "Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway." Eddie Cantor
loafer Wednesday 23 August 2006 9.04am
2 incidents in the last week.

My wife very nearly ran over a cyclist who went through a red light. At least she thinks he survived. He might have had a heart attack from the shock after she left, given how he looked.

Second was yesterday when a cyclist wearing headphones riding on the pavement (at E&C) rode straight across a side road into which a car was turning. Didn't look. Could have died. Entirely his fault.

Loafer
Current: 7 of 20


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