Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Does Boris Actually Care About Cycling?

Boris’ first three months as mayor are up and what do we have?

1. The proposal for a £25 congestion charge for Chelsea tractors is scrapped and £400,000 in legal fees are paid to Porsche.

2. Plans to transform Parliament Square into a pedestrianised piazza are shelved over concerns that it might cause more jams.

3. He is considering allowing motorbikes in bus lanes.

We are still waiting for details of the Velib bike hire scheme - and that is about it.

Boris says that he wants to treble cycling in London and create more secure bike parking, but he sees his role as coaxing action out of the boroughs. There is no sign that he is actually doing this. Sure TfL’s cycling budget of £55m will have an incremental effect in the boroughs, but where is the grand plan?

Do you remember the excitement over Ken’s proposal for 12 cycle motorways in London? That generated headlines all over the world. Of course it was headlining and showmanship, but it help create a mood.

Despite his flamboyance, maybe Boris doesn’t have the vision to be a natural leader.

- cycling numbers continue to rise, no doubt driven by the price of petrol;
- police, especially in the City, crack down on cyclists jumping red lights or mounting pavements while ignoring drivers using their mobiles and stopping in the Advance Stop boxes.

Is everyone getting the politics wrong? 25% of Londoners say they would cycle if it were safer, yet the politicians still treat cyclists as a fringe underclass. We are a big lobby, yet somehow we are not heard.