Could cyclists decide the next London Mayor?

Two lobby groups put pressure on politicians

The London Cycling Campaign and newly formed pressure group Londoners on Bikes are urgently appealing to all cyclists to sign their petitions, with the aim of making mayoral candidates pledge as much support for cycling as possible.

LCC's campaign, Love London, Go Dutch, is calling on the 2012 mayoral election candidates (election date 3 May) to commit to continental standard (i.e. Dutch style) cycling infrastructure in the capital.

Londoners on Bikes (LoB) describe themselves as a 'grassroots, non-profit, 100% volunteer-run group' and have been set up specifically for the election and are due to be wound up shortly afterwards. Their stated aim is "ensuring that the next Mayor of London – whoever that turns out to be – has courted the cycling vote and enters office already committed to measures to make the streets safe."

Both campaigns stress the overriding need to make London more bike-friendly and safer for cyclists. Go Dutch is calling for 20mph maximum speeds in residential and shopping streets, removal of rat-runs and introduction of effective traffic calming, wide and separated bike tracks alongside main roads with bike-friendly solutions at major junctions including cycle-specific traffic lights.

LCC has produced a series of plans to make major public spaces in London more bike and pedestrian friendly, with detailed suggestions for Parliament Square, the Olympic Park and Blackfriars. They are also planning what is billed as 'London's biggest-ever bike ride calling for safer streets for cycling' on Saturday 28 April.

LoB say they are "campaigning not just for the rights of cyclists, but for more liveable urban spaces that everyone can enjoy safely. In a city of 8 million people it is absurd that the motorcar should be the guiding principle of planning. Car ownership in London is 33% and falling, efficient urban design should reflect this downwards trend." Their website also endorses LCC's Go Dutch campaign.

Their programme of grassroots activity includes Monday evening open meetings at the Royal Festival Hall and Tuesday flyering sessions at main junctions across London aimed at popularising their campaign. They are calling for volunteers to help spread the word.

LoB have also promised to keep analysing the cycling proposals from all the Mayoral candidates and to make voting recommendations shortly before the election.

Both LCC and LoB have highlighted the death of eight-year old Ali Nasralla as he cycled home from school in southwest London on Monday as adding further urgency to their campaign.

Just to remind you, cyclists are being asked to sign the campaigns here and here. At the time of writing well over 16,000 people had signed the LCC and LoB petitions - approaching roughly 0.5% of the critical first and second preference votes likely to be cast (based on the 2008 turnout in the last elections), with final petition totals likely to far exceed this.

With Boris Johnston and Ken Livingstone currently within a couple of percent of each other, could courting the cycling vote be the key to a successful election campaign?

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