Yesterday I was one of hundreds of cyclists who took part in a tour of the ten most dangerous junctions in London – for those on two wheels and pedestrians.
The support along the way was great, from pedestrians, other cyclists and some car drivers. A couple of irate taxi drivers seemed more than a little pissed off, and a minor argument did take place after we set off from Hyde Park following a break.
Cycling – all be it at a slow pace – with hundreds of others around you, with marshalls blocking off traffic at junctions allowing us to easily continue through – was a remarkable experience, especially in London. I was especially pleased to go through Vauxhall, which I am yet to successfully manage with getting off and walking. There’s something quite special about hundreds of bells ringing and voices shouting under Vauxhall railway bridge – what a noise!
Rather than optimising the capital’s roads for private vehicles, they should be designed with the pedestrian and cyclist at the forefront. If this was done, we’d get more commuters cycling rather than driving, which among other things, would result in less congestion, lower carbon emissions and a healthier population. I also wonder why so many people drive into central London anyway – even if you don’t want to cycle, we have (despite the difficulties) one of the most comprehensive public transport systems in the world.
Everytime I bring up this subject with friends, the reply I get involves numerous anecdotes of cyclists acting irresponsibly – on pavements, ignoring lights, squeezing between cars and so on. It does irritate me to see so many cyclists acting in this way, but it doesn’t excuse the misdirected nature of London’s transport infrastructure.
I have to confess, I don’t cycle to work. My commute (walking and the train) is relatively short – 35 mins – and I’m yet to find a decent way to sort out the logistics of dressing smartly for work and cycling. But I cycle recreationally, and fully sympathise with all those who do commute on bikes – and will consider doing so in the future.
Massive credit to the organisers and the marshalls who cordoned off the junctions. The ride turned a lot of heads – even focusing the attention of the tourists outside Buckingham Palace – and I hope something similar will be organised in the future.
Cyclists in the City has a much more detailed post on the issues facing cyclists in London and more background on the issues.
The ride was featured on BBC London News:
The Evening Standard lists the junctions we went around:
1. St George’s Rd/London Rd/Elephant & Castle
2. Clapham Rd/Kennington Park Rd/
3. Strand/Northumberland Ave/Whitehall
4. Waterloo Road/ Stamford St/York Rd
5. Mansion House St/Princes St/Threadneedle St
6. Elephant & Castle/Newington Butts
7. Hyde Park Corner, Westminster
8. Millbank/Lambeth Bridge
9. Clerkenwell Road/Farringdon Rd
10. Albert Embankment/Kennington Lane/Wandsworth Rd