It takes more than a lorry door to keep Boris out of the news on a working day, especially when there's a revolution to start. So this morning it was off to Trafalgar Square where the Mayor of London today unveiled a package of measures, billed as a "Cycling Revolution" designed to boost cycling in London over the summer and to entrench the recent growth of cycling in the capital for the longer term too.
According to the Mayor's office new figures released today show that a cycling boom is under way in London (possibly that should read “Still under way”) with an estimated 545,000 daily bicycle journeys now made in London, up 9% in the year since the Mayor was elected (could there be a direct casaul link? – ed) Speaking at the launch, the Mayor said he was determined to reach beyond dedicated commuter cyclists and encourage more Londoners to join in.
Summer fun first though… Boris announced that the London Freewheel event which last year attracted 50,000 cyclists to the streets of central London which were temporarily closed to traffic will be expanded – the next one will take in St Paul's and the City. The London Freewheel takes place the day after the Tour of Britain finale – so 19-20 September will be a big weekend for cycling in the capital. A similar event will also take place in outer London too – this year it will be in Hounslow on 19 August.
The mayor also announced two series of cycle challenges: The London Workplace Cycle Challenge “get your place of work to compete with other organisations across London to see who can get the most people cycling during June”; and the Secondary School London Cycle Challenge – the same format, but with the added wrinkle of inter-year challenges too.
Speaking at the launch of his various cycling initiatives today in Trafalgar Square Mayor Johnson said:
"Cycling is on the up in London, but there is still much to do if we want to really revolutionise the way that Londoners get about. That’s why we are making record investments in cycling, developing the cycle highways and cycle hire schemes, and are unveiling a summer schedule stuffed full of biking events, competitions, and campaigns designed to boost cycling across London's boroughs.
"Through this, Londoners of all ages and abilities can take part and experience the joys of travelling in one of the most handy, healthy, and environmental-friendly ways possible, and we can achieve our aim of making London a city where two wheeled, pedal-powered transportation is the norm, and not the exception."
The Mayor's plan seem to be to attract new cyclists with “fun” and then keep them cycling by spending money on new infrastructure and cycle training. To that end the mayoralty has commited to creating 66,000 new cycle parking spaces – with 138 opening today at Euston Station. Plans for 12 new cycling super highways in to London are also being worked on with the Mayor's office promising an announcement during the summer.
The new routes are scheduled to be in place by 2012 while of course the Mayor's pet project, London's cycle hire scheme is due to come on stream in May next year.
The other part of the strategy, cycle training was touched on at the launch by David Brown, TfL's Managing Director of Surface Transport: "Help is on hand for anyone starting out. Londoners of all ages can get access to free, TfL-funded cycle safety training through their local council, and can order free cycle maps from TfL to help them plan their journeys. There is a whole network of quiet and traffic-free cycle routes that make cycling in the Capital a pleasure, as well as a quick and convenient way to travel."
For information on cycle training provision in Lonon visit www.tfl.gov.uk/cycletraining.
The Mayor also unveiled a major new marketing campaign ‘Catch up with the bicycle’, which shows the freedom of cycling and how, as in other European countries, cycling can be a stylish and desirable way to travel. The message is that we can all cycle, at our own pace and in our own style. No word though on whether London will be signing up to the Brussels Charter and its target of getting 15 per cent of urban journeys to be made by bicycle.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.