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London mayoral contender Christian Wolmar calls for Edinburgh to model itself on Copenhagen

Transport expert says Scottish capital should prioritise bikes, public transport

Transport writer and campaigner Christian Wolmar, who is seeking the Labour nomination for the 2016 London mayoral election, has said that Edinburgh could model itself on Danish capital Copenhagen and make cycling a normal part of everyday life.

Wolmar said: “You introduce everything from 20mph zones to more controlled parking, to quite possibly thinking of more sophisticated charging schemes than we have.

“You take road space away [from motorists] to give it to bus lanes and cycle lanes – you do all those things, and you have a plan for 20 years ahead.

“The most liveable cities in Europe have done that. Copenhagen has gradually reduced the number of car park spaces available in the centre and widened cycle lanes, and people don’t cycle there because it’s healthy or environmentally friendly – they do it because it’s the quickest and easiest way to get around.”

The race for London

Wolmar is fiercely critical of the last two London Mayors, Ken Livinstone and Boris Johnson. He accuses Livingstone of losing his nerve after introducing the congestion charge, but he saves his real ire for Boris Johnson’s attitude toward cyclists and cycling.

“[Boris Johnson] proclaims his support for cyclists but actually in many respects has made life more difficult for them by insisting that nothing should be done that might affect the ‘smooth flow of traffic’,” Wolmar writes.

“The bike hire scheme is a nice innovation and is a useful way of introducing people to the joys of cycling but it is not a substitute for the type of provision for cyclists seen in many European cities.

“For all Boris’s supposed pro-cycling policies, very little will change over the next four years to attract more of them or to make existing ones safer. His cycle superhighways are a dangerous mirage, encouraging cyclists on to main roads while doing nothing to protect them.”

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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dullard | 10 years ago

Wolmar is mainly a gricer. Which might explain why he's setting himself up as a candidate for the mayoralty of one city while calling for another city (why not Doncaster?) to model itself on another city in an altogether different country. Looks a bit confused. Professional commentators such as he tend to drone on about infrastructure instead of on-the-road training and familiarisation.

TheFatAndTheFurious | 10 years ago

Begging your pardon Mr Wolmar, but Edinburgh has already royally f***ed up its city centre with the £700m+ tram debacle to such an extent that cycling is _already_ the only way to get about.

Making it even less car (and hence shopper) friendly is just going to drive retailers out to the many out-of-town parks, and there will be nothing worth cycling into town for.

Check out the empty retail units on Shandwick Place (where tram works have been interminable) for a demonstration of how loss of footfall breaks businesses.

(*** = oul)

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