London Assembly Transport Committee - Embassy members speak at Cycling in London meeting

This morning saw a meeting investigating Cycling in London, held by the Transport Committee of the London Assembly. The meeting was concerned with issues of safety, and barriers to cycling.

Guest speakers included Ashok Sinha of the London Cycling Campaign, German Dector-Vega of Sustrans, Chris Peck of CTC, Martin Gibbs of British Cycling, and Chris Bainbridge, Chair, Borough Cycling Officers Group. 

Two members of the Cycling Embassy also spoke from the floor, Tim Lennon and David Arditti. They had this to say.

My name is David Arditti. I'm coordinator of Brent Cyclists, an outer London LCC group. I'm also on the board of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain. I'd like to address Victoria Borwick's direct question about whether segregating cyclists is safe. The answer to that, I think to anyone who's studied this subject, is undoubtedly yes, if the designs are correct. We do not need to reinvent the wheel in Britain or in London. There is massive experience in other parts of the world, in particular in the Netherlands and in Denmark, about designing correct segregation that works, that is safe for all types of cyclists - fast cyclists and slow cyclists, young cyclists and old cyclists, simultaneously - that not only increases safety, but also their priority and their space on the road, so that they can actually make journeys efficiently, and make cycling a viable alternative.


I'll come to the Borough of Brent. In Brent, we have a level of cycling to school of 0.2%. So it has virtually disappeared. And it is not very hard to see why that is. Brent is severed by a huge road, the North Circular. It is not possible safely to cross that road on a bicycle. You have to cycle through huge motorway-style interchanges, with design speeds of 40, 50, 60, 70 miles per hour, at Staples Corner, or at Neasden Gyratory, or at Henlys Corner - which has recently been made worse by a redesign by TfL - in order to cross the North Circular. The only other methods are to cycle illegally on footways, or across pedestrian bridges, or go through dank underpasses, with such a poor sense of social safety that no parent would ever allow their child to go there. So we have in outer London these huge problems of severance that require major engineering solutions. We have Biking Borough funding from the Mayor of £300,000 for 3 years. That is about 10p per member of the population. I calculated that, at that level of funding, to build the infrastructure that the Dutch have built over 40 years, it would take us 3000 years.

So, can we afford to wait that long, and how can we address this huge divide between inner and outer London? If you walk around the streets around here, you can believe the line there's a Cycling Revolution in London. Well, I can tell you that from my house in Edgware, cycling on the A5, I have cycled in the day, recently, for three miles, without seeing another cyclist. There is no Cycling Revolution in outer London. Cycling has virtually disappeared. It is less than 0.5% of all journeys. This is due to the unsuitable infrastructure. Unless we have serious funding, to seriously change the infrastructure, all the calls for more cycling will go no further than they have in the last thirty years of cycling being encouraged in Britain.

And Tim Lennon - 

Hello, my name is Tim Lennon. I live in Richmond, with my wife and two children, and I’m speaking today as a representative of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain. 

My daughter will start school in 2013. We have 5 or 6 schools within around a two kilometre radius, and not a single one can be accessed by bicycle without crossing a dual carriageway, using pavements you’re not allowed to ride on, cycling down a street clogged with parked cars, or sharing space with 4x4s, trucks and buses. 


When London starts building facilities for my daughter to peacefully and safely cycle to school, then you’ll start seeing all those other people who survey after survey tell us are too scared to get on a bicycle in our city. I’m also a school governor, and I know parents at my school who drive their children there because the available routes are tortuous, involve sharing Richmond Bridge with trucks, negotiating streets clogged with other parents dropping their children off on yellow zig zags, and getting through a one way system that is solely designed to get cars from one place to another. 

We believe that London will only achieve mass cycling in the volumes that the Dutch and the Danes have, through the provision of high quality, safe infrastructure which separates cyclists from traffic, and which genuinely aspires support all Londoners in having a real transport choice.