Thursday, July 24, 2008

Better Off By Bike

Transport for London recently released the statistic that one in three adult Londoners has access to a bicycle, but only half of those used it at-all last year!

Hang on, people buy bikes starting from the £70 to £99 price range. That means practically everyone can afford a bike. So revise TfL's statistic to read "three in three" people have access to a bike. Pretty much 99% of London can cycle.

Buying a cheap bike is about the same as an evening’s restaurant bill for a few friends eating out in London or the money you could lose on the Tour de France should you choose to bet online. Price is definitely not an excuse; in fact the costs of buying and maintaining a bike are among its strengths.

Photo: Dan Chung

Credit to Boris for making real-life journeys by bike, when the temptation to be ushered in to a taxpayer’s city-hall car is always an option. However, one thing I don’t like is TfL’s obsession with cycle lanes.

It’s because cycle lanes are measurable, and boy do they love measuring things at TfL! It gives them something to talk about when about FIFTY people descend on meetings to hear themselves chatter about PC-BS and PR.

The fact is, you don’t need a cycle lane to cycle anywhere. If there’s a road, cycles are entitled to use it. So what that bikes sometimes have a slower top speed than other vehicles? – So does a tractor. Deal with it.

Any budget for cycling is good, but in a rush to coat London in yet more signage, giving more things to measure, it results in some cycle lanes not fit for purpose. For example, this one which encourages cyclists to ride in the door zone (the most hazardous part of the road where vehicle doors are opened in to the path of the cycling public). An experienced rider will ignore the lane and ride safely, but would a recent convert?

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