London is in the midst of a cycling boom

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

According to a report by Transport for London (TfL) legions of Londoners have embraced cycling during the pandemic.

It found that bike journeys are up by a quarter compared to pre-pandemic levels, with an 82 per cent rise observed at the weekends. Almost 800,000 journeys a day are now made by bike; TfL wants that figure to be 1.3m by 2024.

The news follows the publication of another TfL report a week before, which found the number of cycling fatalities in London hit a record low in 2021.

While I have to admit that I have yet to full read the report to actually bring about a real uptake of cycling for the majority a proper and safe cycling infrastructure has to be created and not just in London.

It is more important even and especially in the suburbs and the areas servicing, so to speak, London, but then again not only there but this is applicable to all cities and towns in this country.

Also the countryside needs such a cycling infrastructure in order for cycling to become and be an alternative to the use of the motorcar and, when it comes to the countryside, the villages and small towns, other infrastructure too needs to be invested in, recreated and created, so that shops and other facilities are within cycling range, including schools.

It is a sad state of affairs that, even in London, cycle lanes are, in the main, a farce, as they are either part of the road itself without any physical separation between cyclist and general traffic, like most of them are on the European mainland in countries such as Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc., and that even those lanes that there are are (1) not protected from cars parking on them and (2) that they are often only very short before becoming a normal road again.

The talk is there about getting more and more people to use the bicycle instead of the car, especially for shorter journeys, but the political will does not seem to be present to actually create the right infrastructure for people, including and especially children and the not so confident, to safely take up the bike and use it regularly.

On the other hand there is also a problem with the attitude of many cyclists in the UK, and I am saying that being a cyclist myself (I do not own or use a car), in that many ride as if they are competing in the Tour de France or such an event and behave abysmal, ignoring traffic lights and zebra crossings, for instance.

Would it not be for such people with such attitudes one could safely, as is done in many countries, allow the dual use of the sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists.

I cannot fathom why cyclists, much like drivers, in the UK have an aggressive style of riding unlike people in countries where there is a real cycling culture, be it the Netherlands, France or Germany, per example. In a number of places in those countries I have encountered the amicable sharing of sidewalks, albeit somewhat wider than most of them we encounter in the UK, between pedestrians and cyclists, with cyclists giving pedestrians priority.

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