Getting our Cities Fit for Cycling

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Today's post is by my husband James, a keen cyclist. He's commuted by bike in London for more than five years and writes his first blog post on about current cycling safety issues

Cycling is fantastic way to travel, with numerous health benefits. As the University of Leicester highlight, scientific studies have shown how cycling:

These studies, and other recent cost-benefit analyses, generally show that across large populations the benefits of cycling in urban areas outweigh the costs. However, cycling also comes with risks and population-level statistics are not much comfort if you're the individual who gets injured.

Last Monday the third cyclist in as many weeks was killed on London's roads. The tragic death sparked a protest ride by more than two thousand London cyclists (of which I was one) organized by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) and calling for dedicated space for cycling. If we're going to get more people cycling, enjoying the health and lifestyle benefits it brings, we're going to have to make our roads safer.

The 'Get Britain Cycling' report [pdf] by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group has several recommendations for how this can be done. These recommendations include increasing investment in cycling infrastructure, lower speed limits in residential areas and stricter planning guidelines for how roads are designed. Another key recommendation is improving training for individual cyclists (and motorists). I commute to work in London and have picked up a few tips that I'll share in the future, but for now the LCC website has some great advice, there's a good beginner's guide in the latest edition of Cycle Lifestyle, and the best book on safe and enjoyable cycling is Cyclecraft by John Franklin

Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed the Get Britain Cycling report but not committed himself to enforce the recommendations. The report will be debated in Parliament by MPs on Monday 2nd September and The Times newspaper Cities Fit for Cycling campaign is encouraging everyone to ask their MP to attend the debate. I've written to my MP and it would be great if you would too. My letter is below if you need ideas and see The Times campaign page for more info and to find your MP.

In the meantime, get out there on your bike and enjoy the rest of summer! If you haven't been on your bike for a while, Mollie is now a certified Cycle Leader for the Breeze Network and will soon be organizing a ride. Alternatively, you can also find a SkyRide near you, or if you're in London join the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle on Saturday 3rd August will be closing the roads in the city to create an eight-mile traffic-free loop from Buckingham Palace to the Tower of London.

Wherever the road takes you, enjoy the ride!

My letter
Dear XXXX,

Earlier this week I was on the London Cycling Campaign protest ride calling for dedicated space for cycling to prevent further cycling deaths in London (1). The ride was sparked by yet another cyclists' death, this time at Holborn (2). Only a few weeks ago another cyclist was killed in our own borough of Lewisham (3). These deaths indicate how dangerous cycling remains in London.

As you may remember from previous emails, I commute to work by bike and cycling is my main mode of transport. Cycling is a healthy, sustainable and affordable transport option and the more people cycle the more our communities will benefit. However, to enable and encourage more people to cycle, allowing the benefits this will bring, we need to make our city and borough safer for cycling.

Implementing the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report (4) published in April by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group will help do this. These recommendations include increasing investment in cycling infrastructure, improving training, lowering speed limits in residential areas and ensuring that cycle provision is included at the planning stage of all new developments. I have written to you previously about lowering speed limits, but you seem against this proposal, which is disappointing.

I hope that you will be at the debate about these recommendations in the House of Commons on Monday 2nd September and that you will listen carefully to the arguments. In turn, I hope that you will be encouraged to support the recommendations. Will you be at the debate?

Yours sincerely,

James Millington


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