It is now two months since it started, and although it sticks in the craw to say it: I think Bicycle Clips Boris may have picked a winner with his cycle hire scheme.
After some initial technology problems, the bikes are popular and, are usually ridden carefully, probably their weight precluding any Lycra loutish behaviour.
I’m quite happy to see more cyclists take to London’s roads, but I have grave reservation about the two new Super Highways (with a further 10 planned by 2015). These are just strips of blue paint on the tarmac, but they give the impression that cyclists have a divine right to their exclusive use.
TfL’s website informs us that ‘they will provide cyclists with SAFER and FASTER journeys’. Just the jolly job you might say, encouraging more use of bikes, getting fitter and save the planet. Further inquiry will lead you to realise that Blue Routes are intended to highlight the presence of cyclists and are advisory rather than enforceable, a bit like red traffic lights or priority to pedestrians on zebra crossings for some cyclists.
The first two routes are pilots to enable TfL to assess (and here I would suggest TfL consider a different verb) the impact on traffic and cyclists, and if successful Boris plans to increase the use of bikes by 400 per cent.
They say the worst kind of security is a false sense of security and this is where Super Highway madness concerns me. These lanes will be used by riders with little experience of riding in London and they could think they are protected in some way, but in fact any vehicle can drive down a blue lane at any time. It is a sad statistic that this year’s casualties have been mostly women cycling sensibly along London’s roads. It’s the Lycra clad lads on racing bikes with saddles like razor blades who are far more adept at keeping alive.
If Boris is serious about increasing London’s road bike capacity he should insist that councils are forced to provide dedicated lanes for their use, identification on bikes increasing the ability to prosecute law breakers and cyclists take out 3rd party insurance, then we can all jog along happily, as for joggers that’s for another post.
Be careful out there.