£500 000 000 on this?
14.02.08 by Buffalo Bill
It’s election time in London, and I have to tell you that a choice between ‘Red’ Ken and Blustering Boris is no choice at all. However, before the last election in 2004, the London Bicycle Messenger Association successfully lobbied the Mayor for action on the continuing problem of London cyclists killed by lorries/HGV/LGVs. We were helped in bringing it to the attention of the Mayor by a long article in the Financial Times magazine on Sebastian Lukomski’s death, and inquiries by Noel Lynch, then a Green Party Member of the London Assembly.
Although the process, which I have written about many times (see lorry/HGV on the contents page of this site), was frustrating, and little of consequence came of it, the data that the London Road Safety Unit collected as part of the study was submitted to the European Parliament’s committee which considered, and ultimately endorsed, a proposal for a fourth mirror to be fitted to all new LGVs. This mirror virtually eliminates the ‘blind-spot’ to the left front of lorries, and will remove ‘I never saw her/him, s/he was in me blind-spot’ so frequently used by lorry drivers charged with negligently causing cyclists’ deaths. So engagement in the political process, which is not very fashionable amongst bicycle messengers, can have concrete results.
As to the merits of Ken’s latest proposal to spend £500 million on improving cycle facilities, well, all we have seen so far is lines on the map. I am not a big fan of cycle-lanes, super or otherwise, and even well-engineered lanes do NOT protect cyclists from injury and death, as demonstrated by the death of Conrad DuToit, crushed by a criminal lorry driver in the Baynes Street lane a few years ago.
Wouldn’t the money be better spent on providing training and free bicycles for children? It would be nice to get more adults on bikes, but if you already have a car, it is likely that you will use that for going to the shops than your bike. Getting the kids on bikes early will break the car addiction before it starts.
Some more places to lock bikes would be nice, too. And more enforcement by the police of the current laws of the road would be even better.