When car driver Emma Way last week tweeted ''definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier - I have right of way he doesn't even pay road tax! #bloodycyclists'' , she could never have guessed the effect of her comments. Cyclists quickly vented their anger at her on Twitter via the hashtag #bloodycyclists, spurring on a more interesting and needed general debate about cycling safety.
In the last decade, London has seen a massive cycle movement unfold increasing 173% since 2001, more recently helped by Mayor Boris Johnson's personal passion for cycling and his roll out of the Barclays 'Boris Bikes' hire bike scheme. This coupled with the establishment of the 'ride to work' scheme by employers, which let's employees pay back the cost of their bike taxfree over a 12 month period and the growth of several urban cycling community groups, means the London cycling movement has gone from being a fringe green movement to a mainstream one in a relatively short space of time.
But issues facing cyclists in London are manyfold; the most pressing is unquestionably safety. In an already crowded city, cyclists compete daily with larger, noisier and more dangerous vehicles and many city dwellers, who would otherwise gladly hop on their bike to commute to work, are far too intimidated to do so.
Until recently, the general sentiment was that the Greater London Authority was ignoring these concerns, in favour of more interesting infrastructure challenges, but in March this year something remarkable happened; the Mayor's new cycle commissioner Andrew Gilligan promptly announced new cycling plans, that are set to be the most ambitious seen in London to date. The plans scoped out nearly £1 billion worth of investments, including a segregated cross rail style cycling superhighway, a London underground style cycling route network following tube lines and more quiet routes, in addition to addressing many of the safety concerns highlighted by campaigners such as HGV movements etc.
But there is issues with these plans; the main one being that Transport for London (TFL) only owns 5% of London's roads, the rest are owned by individual councils and it will therefore be upto the GLA to approve plans within boroughs, a lengthily and bureaucratic process. Another concern is whether, during these austere times, its realistic to source funds for infrastructure projects such as these.
On Tuesday 4th June, Andrew Gilligan will headline the HUB Eco Series event 'Will we finally see a cycling revolution in London', examining the cycling plans he announced. Pistonheads editor and keen cyclist Dan Trent and cycle blogger Julian Sayarer will both comment on his plans, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.
Are you a #bloodycyclist concerned about cycling in London? If so you know where you should be on Tuesday 4th June. Book tickets via http://londoncyclingrevolution.eventbrite.co.uk/.
Conflict of interest: I'm the co-founder and co-organiser of the HUB Eco Series.