UK cycle safety and cycling in London - 2012 review
Of the many UK commuting and campaigning stories BikeRadarcovered in 2012, two areas stood out – cycle safety and cycling in London.
The issue of cycle safety was already being flagged up in February; the devastating injuries caused to Times journalist and cyclist Mary Bowers in late 2011 and the newspaper’s subsequent Cities Fit For Cycling campaign launch in early 2012 proved a catalyst for political activity.
Around the same time, government figures released for 2011 showed the numbers of cyclists being killed and seriously injured increasing against a backdrop of more encouraging figures for other road users. The trend was confirmed in June and again in early November, and this time the stats also stressed how things had improved little over the last decade.
A survey of the general public by cycling charity Sustrans found that over half of those canvased thought roads were unsafe for cycling. Two thirds of those who didn’t cycle regularly would be more likely to ride on the roads if they were made safer by changes such as lower speed limits, more marked cycle lanes and more care taken by drivers and other cyclists.
The media foray played a part in the surge in political activity at Westminster throughout the year, as 23 February saw the House of Commons debate cycle safety for the first time since 1996. The government’s subsequent Think Cyclist campaign didn’t, however, seem like a fitting response.
The government spotlight will fall on cycling safety once again in April 2013, after November saw a call for evidence to be presented to the Get Britain Cycling inquiry.
Transport minister stephen hammond launches the think! cyclist let’s look out for each other campaign at horse guards parade in central london in september 2012:PA Wire/Press Association Images
Transport Minister Stephen Hammond launches the THINK! CYCLIST campaign
It remains to be seen whether this is a flash in the pan issue at Westminster, or whether improving conditions for cyclists really has found its way onto the mainstream political agenda after years of being overlooked.
Boris Johnson re-elected as mayor
The London mayoral election saw a further ramping up of pressure on a different set of politicians, this time from a wide range of groups, including the London Cycling Campaign’s Big Ride in late April. There was some impressive coordination here, with similar mass rides on the same day in Edinburgh, Paris and Rome.
A main issue of contention and an area of that could herald improved riding conditions for London cyclists is Transport for London‘s ongoing junction review, which the London Cycling Campaign have input on. Signs at the first major redesign, Waterloo roundabout, weren’t particularly encouraging from an LCC standpoint.