Friday 20 January 2012

My Cycling Moment of the Week - 1

Happy New Year All!

Inspired by Andrew Neil's This Week programme I have decided to post my moment of the week on the blog. It won't be about politics (or at least only where it relates to cycling), I won't have the charm of Michael Portillo, the smoothness of Diane Abbott or the looks of Jacqui Smith! But it will be weekly and it will be on here rather than in a late-night studio with soft lights and a cosy settee. You won't even need BBC i-player to look at the post if you miss the first airing of the piece! It'll just be sitting here for you, dear Reader - for your enjoyment as you sip a glass of Blue Nun!

So, here is the first instalment.

Dear Miss David,

I am writing to both cyclists and drivers to remind them to take care on London’s roads.

Cyclists are reminded to:
• Be aware of blind spots all around large vehicles. It’s often safer to hang back
• Make eye contact with drivers to make sure they have seen you
• Not ride through red traffic lights. It’s dangerous and you can be fined £30
• Allow space between you and parked vehicles. Doors may be opened suddenly
Cycle training courses are available in most London boroughs.
For more information, please visit

Yours sincerely,

Ben Plowden
Director, Surface Planning

The good people at Transport for London (TfL) sent this rather helpful email (above) to cyclists earlier this week providing tips and guidelines.

I must admit that when I received it I could see the good intentions behind the note and how it could be useful to new cyclists. However, it made me chuckle a little and a sentence along the lines of granny and suck eggs crossed my mind.

Some of my fellow cyclists were particularly inflamed by the email and poured scorn on the memo, dismissing TfL as patronising and completely missing the point in terms of ensuring cyclists’ safety on London’s roads.

Although I did not react in the same way, I think that the people who got annoyed do have a point.

We have just rounded off a bad year for cyclists in London, with sixteen riders killed on the capital’s roads in 2011 (compared with ten in 2010). There were even two fatal accidents in as many weeks on the Bow roundabout, on one of the Mayor of London’s signature Cycle Superhighways.

Clearly, a review and re-design of busy junctions needs to take place. If people received details of the new measures being implemented, that would give a better signal to cyclists that TfL are addressing our needs.

A note like the one above may be useful to a newby commuter cyclist, but really TfL would be given more credit if they demonstrated what they will be doing to improve traffic flows for cyclists. Strangely enough I don't see any briefing to motorists reminding them not to drive so close to cyclists, cut us up at junctions or jump red lights....

TfL announced last week that it will be re-designing the cycle route on the Bow roundabout. I look forward to them sending me an email setting out the new cycle facilities.

That's your lot for this week!

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