So. If Boris’s vision for cycling in London, announced last week, becomes a reality, it will be nothing less than a cycling revolution. Dutch-style segregated lanes! Crossrail for bikes! Quietways! Mini-Hollands! De-Lycrafying! Could this really be London he’s talking about?
Indeed it must be – because no sooner had the plans been announced than the criticism started. No, not of the plans, but of us cyclists. A journalist was quoted on the London Cycling Campaign’s Facebook page as asking, “Now these new facilities have been promised, do you think cyclists have a responsibility to improve their behaviour?”
Why, now that we’ve been promised some major (and long overdue) investment into the cycling infrastructure in London, should I have a responsibility to ‘improve my behaviour’? I already cycle in a safe and responsible manner, thank you very much.
And besides…does anyone ask motorists to ‘improve their behaviour’ when roads are being built or upgraded? Does anyone say, “Now then chaps, now we’ve built this shiny new road for you, you will drive nicely, won’t you? No more speeding, talking on your phones while driving, running red lights, turning or changing lanes without indicating (or looking), cutting other drivers up, stopping on advance stop boxes…”
No, they don’t. Yet I see motorists doing all of these things (and worse besides) on a regular basis, and I don’t hear anyone banging on about them.
Yes, there are some cyclists who run red lights, cycle on pavements and otherwise flagrantly flout the rules of the road. And yes, they should probably improve their behaviour. But so too should any motorists who break the law, who drive dangerously and with no respect for other road users
These new plans are a fantastic move for London. They will, I hope, make cycling safer and easier, and will encourage many more people to think about getting on their bikes. Until then, is it too much to ask for a sensible debate about cycling in London, without it getting stuck on this obsession with cyclists’ behaviour?