David Cameron pledged a cycling revolution. There has been nothing of the sort. London remains one of the worst places to cycle in the UK in terms of cycle safety. And yet… it has so much potential! Not only is it filled with the quirky cafés serving flat whites and chocolate shortbreads but it is packed full of magnificent sites; located just a few miles from Richmond Park [the gate to the Surrey hills] – a cyclist’s dream!
It is time that Cameron ‘put his money where his mouth is’. We want to see results across the UK. Billions have been wasted on railway projects such as HS2, which has eaten up far more money that was expected, now totalling nearly £50 billion. This money would be far better spent on a carbon neutral, lung-capacity building cycle scheme. London in particular is extremely dangerous for cyclists, with casualties a daily occurrence. This is only worsened by the dark winter nights and will become greater still with winter sub-zero temperatures and ice.
In July 2014 it was announced that £214 million would be invested to fund both Cycle Ambition Cities Programme and the Strategic road network [gov.uk]. This is in the vain hope that the number of journeys made by cyclists will double by 2020 but we are yet to see any real improvements on our roads. £214 million may seem a large sum, and if spent correctly it could revolutionise cycling, but it is minimal in comparison to billions spent on other modes of transport.
London, and the majority of the UK, would benefit hugely from an increase in cycle lanes, such as the wide blue lanes running adjacent to the Thames (before they are lost once again). If cyclists are made to feel safer and funding is well spent, then more people will make the modal switch from trains and cars – decongesting the city’s overcrowded rail network, currently running far beyond capacity.
Our capital city is unfortunately not alone in its lack of safety for cyclists. As I rode across the South East I noticed the ludicrously poor roads and the appalling number of pot holes. Surely time would be better spent sorting out our roads rather than building a costly overground service to Birmingham?
Even London’s heavily anticipated ‘quietways’ expected in May 2016 are far from ideal. Vehicle traffic is still able to use these roads, they are just expected to have lower levels of traffic. In my opinion, this is just a huge cop-out. So, this leads me to my final question:
What can we do?
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