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Can London be a cycling city?

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What will it take for the Mayor to achieve his goal of a cycle friendly London?

Cycling is one of the capital's most contentious transport issues after the congestion charge and Tube strikes. This week, we are putting the spotlight on the two wheel debate.

Director of London Cycling Campaign Koy Thompson is broadly supportive of Mayor Boris Johnson's vision for a cycling city but is believes much needs to be done to realise the dream.

BBC London's transport correspondent Tom Edwards talks to some of the big players in the world of transport in the capital to find out what needs to be done, what the pitfalls are and why the city in 20 years' time could really be a different place. Watch the film above.

London's rogue riders

Some cyclists are angry at the police action while others accept they have broken the law.

Tom has been investigating the issue of cyclists ignoring the rules of the road and possibly endangering the lives of themselves and others.

It comes as police in Kensington and Chelsea step up their efforts to stop cyclists who ignore the Highway Code.

Residents have complained about the danger caused by cyclists who jump red lights and ride on pavements. Police say they'll be stopping more cyclists from now on.

Bike thefts

Police say they need the help of cyclists

There's been a big rise in the number of bikes being stolen in central London, an increase of more than 50 per cent in just four months.

Police say they're making more arrests, but they need the help of cyclists, as our Home Affairs Correspondent Guy Smith reports.

Cycle safety

Cycling in London is on the increase and the issue of safety is being taken as seriously as ever.

That is because thousands of cyclists are still being injured on our roads, and this year alone - we've already had seven fatalities from accidents involving bikes and lorries.

Charlie Edwards has been knocked off his bike twice in the last three months

As part of BBC London's Cycling Week, our Transport Correspondent, Tom Edwards has been looking at what's being done to improve cycling safety.

Tom talks to cyclists about their experiences, including Charlie Edwards who has been badly injured twice in the last few months.

Pedestrians v Cyclists

City cycling could become safer

BBC London's Cycling Week has prompted responses from cyclists and pedestrians who want the city's streets to become safer.

We hear the views of pedestrians and cyclists about what they think needs to be done make the streets and the pavements safer.

Your Emails

When may pedestrians have the right to walk the pavements uninhibited by cyclists? Too many are riding on the pavements and if challenged are aggressive and rude. Are they too scared to use the roads? Many main roads have cycle-lanes why aren't these used more? It would be helpful if cyclists had to observe a Code of Conduct similar to the Highway Code. Those cyclists who are considerate are in the minority.
Vicki Fox

Not too long ago I was involved in accident on Holborn where I cycled into a pedestrian, there was almost stationary traffic as I was cycling to work making good time when a pedestrian came through the traffic from the other side of the road and I collided with her knocking her over.

She sustained a cut to her head and was stunned whilst I cracked my collar bone and £150 worth of damage to the bike.

The interesting thing was that it was not until the pedestrian, who caused the accident was picked up, dusted down and generally commiserated with that anyone thought to check if I was alright. As I lay on the floor recovering where I fell I made a point of not getting up before someone checked that I was alright.

I found it vaguely amusing that as the "victim" of the incident I was immediately blamed due to the prejudice against cyclists. I was insured and make a point of obeying the highway code, so that I can shout at the other road users who don't.

I think a point that many people are unaware of is that many household insurance policies also cover cycles and cycling, so many people who it is assumed are not covered actually are.
Oliver Leedam

I'm a cyclist and ex-courier and I do recognise the problem.

Do I jump the lights while cycling?

Yes.

Why?

Simply because of the amount of traffic lights and the traffic lights system in London is the most ridiculous one I've ever come across with (no 'green waves', stopping all traffic to allow pedestrians from all sides to cross, plus allowance for pedestrians to cross anywhere and at any time regardless of traffic lights, which I believe is allowed by law) and to obey it means that you extend your journey time probably by twice, plus it's still not safe as there is as many drivers jumping the lights as cyclists and also - start moving with all traffic is not safe at all.

How do I justify it?

1. There is no reason for waiting provided that you do it safely (for you and for everybody else, which isn't difficult at all). Many other road users would agree that cyclists waiting for green light and moving with all traffic causes much more disorder than order.

I find myself leaving earlier and earlier to avoid run ins with mass groups of ill-experienced, law breaking cyclists. On some days I actually wish I had taken the tube.
Cassandra Grasso

2. I never create a problem (or dangerous situation) to any other road user or pedestrian.

I'm signing (using both of my hands) under penalties for reckless cyclists who jump the lights right in front of pedestrians crossing on green or those cycling like crazy on pavement.

I would also welcome the same rules for everybody - so - pedestrians halt on red lights and no crossing whenever and wherever they want.

Finally - I can see the penalties for cyclists who fail to obey the Highway Code being hugely popular as it will bring revenue, however I would like to believe that police officers issuing those will do that with common sense (remembering that not every situation is of the same importance and moreover - someone around the corner might need their real help).
Chris

I have been cycling in London long before it became cool, green and trendy. Back then there were only a handful who jumped through red lights. The majority of us would wait patiently for our go.

Since the start of this year, though, I am amazed at how many people now jump red lights and the general cycle chaos on our roads during rush hour. I think that all of these inexperienced cyclists run red lights because a) they are of the opinion they are above the law since they are on a green form of transport and b) they have this crazy idea that it is cool to run through lights. The underlying problem with these thoughts is a lack of experience or respect for sharing the road with other modes of transport.

I don't find cars, lorries and buses to be the problem. They are predictable. As more and more cyclists take to the streets with no training or appreciation that they are a road user like everyone else, it really has become a hazard on the roads.

I find myself leaving earlier and earlier to avoid run ins with mass groups of ill-experienced, law breaking cyclists. On some days I actually wish I had taken the tube.

I would very much welcome a crack down on these cyclists. It shouldn't be about fining them, but educating them and showing them that they will be treated the same as everyone else on the road. There are just too many cyclists on the road for this to continue before major accidents start happening.
Cassandra Grasso

I live in Aldgate East and I´ve been cycling through London for more than 2 years now.

In my opinion far too many cyclists show no respect to red lights. I am happy with police tackling them.

On the other hand, so much more needs to be done to protect us as road users. How about stopping pedestrians from crossing from anywhere, or educating other road users, and last but not least, this city should do something about its streets.

I find it embarrassing that a city like London has streets that sometimes resemble third world country. In many cases cyclists are forced into the centre of the street due to the appalling state of the sides, full of holes and bumps.
Ernesto Forner

How are we expected to believe that the police will do anything about any of the problems with cyclists. We rarely see them, at all!

It is obvious that when you push more people onto cycles and send them into the capital that there will be more deaths and accidents.

The infrastructure for cycling around London is a joke. Cycle lanes are mostly disregarded, by all, and just not practical. Oh, and what a great idea to put a nice gap for all the cycles in front of all the cars at the Give Way lines, I would love to meet the comedian that thought that one up!

To be honest , the whole cycle thing is a laughable farce. Please spend a lot more time and money on educating cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

The Highway Code and Police Roadcraft manual have got the answers. Ram the information into the peoples' minds and get them to learn how to use the roads.

If you want the police or plastic police to do that, forget it, they are just too busy!
Maxwell Shee

I regularly cross the road at the Borough High St/Union St intersection and fear cyclists who do not seem to obey red lights. In fact, on more than one occasion, I have been shouted out by a cyclist to get out the way even though the green man signal is clearly evident.

There is a cycle lane on the pavement in Union Street where cyclist tear down at very fast speeds. How are pedestrians with poor sight supposed to know about this cycle lane? or how are the elderly supposed to cross the road when they have to deal with the cycle lane first?

Similarly there are problems at the pedestrian crossing in Southwark Bridge Rd where cyclists travelling far too fast in their cycle lanes seem to think that they have the right of way over pedestrians on the crossing at all times even though vehicular traffic has stopped
Barbara Judge

I would like to submit that all cyclists in London flout the highway code at some point. The mayor's office has been irresponsible in encouraging this, sighting grounds of safety (for the cyclists, certainly not for pedestrians). I hope the action being taken in Kensington and Chelsea police somehow sends a message out, although I fear it will be a long time for it to reach Hackney, Walthamstow and Leyton where I live and work.

Cyclists play a dangerous psychological game with car drivers, they use their vulnerability in certain situations as a self-righteous one-upmanship and often turn on car drivers saying metaphorically "how dare you, we are both human but you could kill me with that car" when they have plainly been careless or just plain bad road users.

Also, all cyclists now seem to use the pavement as a matter of course presenting danger to pedestrians, my fear is that it will take tragic consequences or drastic measures to stop this flagrant abuse of the laws and rules. So, to all the cyclists out there, next time you are cycling on the pavement at 5 mph (but probably faster) and a two-year-old, the same height as your front wheel, steps out of the front gate a fraction ahead of their mother, I hope you checked your brakes, and your reaction time.
Andrew, E17

An international cycling event started in London three weeks ago, with just over 300 foreign visitors participating. At least three had their bikes stolen while they were visiting cafes in London.

Cycling London

Not only will their Spanish and Italian friends be warned against visiting London, but most of the riders from the 31 nations taking part will also be aware of the cycle theft problem in London.

Locks don't seem to be an effective deterrent; a police CCTV shot showed thieves exiting the doors of a van with oxy-acetylene cutting kit and returning in 10 seconds with the stolen bike.

In the "Wild West" horse thieves were strung up from the nearest tree. Not sure if it worked as a deterrent, but it might help cyclists if the Police were more vigilant and the penalties more realistic.
Peter Witting

My partner entered into the Cycle To Work scheme last month, his old bike like most in the capital had a short life span with pot holes and the like.

He had contacted the local community Safer Neighbourhood Team with the Met Police who were to collect his old bike and use it a 'sting' for local bike thieves, but before the SNT were able to collect his old bike, his new one was stolen - lock and all.
Simon, Kings Cross

I have been cycling from Crystal Palace to Russell Square every day for five years. I have been in hospital twice:

The first time was due to a wet manhole cover: I was making a slow right turn into a road when I lost rear wheel traction on the manhole cover and came off, landing on my right patella which snapped in half. Three weeks in plaster and 15 months of pain/rehab.

Second time, April 2009 a black cab driver outside Waterloo Station opened his driver side door 2 metres in front of me. I hit the door, went over and broke my right olecranon (elbow). Metalwork is still holding my elbow together.

There you go: the first incident was probably my fault if anyones, the second was the taxi driver's fault. Otherwise I have run over two pedestrians and I am still cycling.

I will until it kills me.
MG

While I have every concern for the safety of cyclists, I too am concerned for the safety of pedestrians and other road users who are put at risk by cyclists who show contempt for the Highway Code.

Everyday, I see numerous cyclists jumping red lights at pedestrian crossings on Theobalds Road, WC1. To create a safe environment, cyclists also need to show respect for other road users and pedestrians alike.
MK

I take it the purpose of your programme was to deter cycling as much as possible?

The best part was the interview with Boris, and I never thought I'd say that.

The soundtrack was all about danger, all the roads shown were busy, and all the cyclists shown were helmeted. The cyclist interviewed was very unlucky, and probably careless as well, to be injured twice in two months.

Why not be positive? Cycling in London is about as safe per mile as walking, and life years gained by cyclists from better health far outnumber ones lost from crashes. Helmets are neither necessary, nor effective in serious crashes.

Yes, HGVs are a danger to cyclists, but the flipside of that is that this year so far exactly 2 London cyclists have been killed by all other motor vehicles. I think that's pretty good.
Colin McKenzie
(London cyclist and Bikeability cycle trainer)

What about cyclists obeying the law?

I drive into London to work every night and see cyclists breaking the law:

Some have no lights, some have no helmets, riding on the pavement, running red lights and going the wrong way down one way streets. You never see them being pulled over by the police.

Drivers have to pay through the nose to use the roads and then get heavy punishments for any infringement. It's about time that cyclists paid to use the roads and were fined for putting their own lives and the lives of others at risk.
Gary Hatch
Basildon

I had a beautiful niece who had just passed her PGCE at the Institute of Education. A few weeks before she was due to start her first teaching post (English) in an inner city London comprehensive she was knocked off her bike by a lorry and died 20 minutes later on a cold pavement.

Accidental injury was recorded and while I don't want people to serve prison sentences etc for this kind of accident I feel that if more lorry drivers were held to account then there would be more care on the roads.

We are not in a position to encourage cyclists as our roads do not cater for bikes and there are far too many accidents and deaths in people who are cycling for a greener London.
Wendy French

I am writing to let you know that Camden offers free cycle training on road and off road to adults and children.

Camden is also one of the London Borough's that is involved in the Cycle Hire Scheme due to start next year.
Michelle Jamieson,
Cycling Officer
London Borough of Camden

I am a cyclist and I jump lights.

The reason why I jump lights is simple ... I want to keep myself seen by motorists behind me and stay ahead of the traffic, this means that I am safe and so are the motorists. I do not jump lights if there are any vehicles crossing the junction and I do not jump lights if there are any pedestrians.

But, if the way is clear I will cycle on ahead. The example I can give is heading onto Shepherds Bush roundabout from Holland Park Avenue; if I am waiting at traffic lights and I have lots of cars behind me who are all about to go into various lanes i.e. turn left into Holland Road, go straight ahead to Shepherds Bush, turn right onto the A40 - then I want to get ahead of all of that traffic, so if the way is clear I jump the lights.

The advantage to motorists is they can then see where I am heading and make a decision based on that knowledge, rather than me being stuck alongside them and they have know idea where I am going, which slows down the traffic as they have to wait for the lights to go green to see where I am going before they can move (which many don't bother doing hence the death rate to cyclists).

I am also a motorist and from that point of view I still prefer it when cyclists are a head of me and I can see them, so I know which way they are going.

I think that done safely then jumping lights is the right thing to do. However, I don't like it when I see adult cyclists on pavements (that is a definite no, no) or jumping lights when there are pedestrians crossing or vehicles crossing.

I heard Joanna Good last week saying that cyclists take up as much space as a car, which I thought was hilariously ridiculous!

If all cyclists started to drive there would definitely be even more congestion and more pollution on our roads. Cycling is a clean, healthy and quick way of getting around London, you only have to go to countries like Sweden, Holland and Germany to understand the amazing benefits of cycling and start to embrace a cycling culture.

I have been cycling on a regular basis in London for 27 years. It is my main mode of transport. I started when I was 15. I have had 4 accidents in that time. 1 serious, and the others were all minor. The serious accident was when I was 18 years old and I was changing lanes at Notting Hill Gate.

I had to look behind me to see if I could change lanes and in that instant the car in front of me stopped suddenly and I went straight into and over it. The accident couldn't have been prevented and was neither of our faults. I was lucky as I only lost part of my tooth, but my bike was a write-off .

I have many people saying to me that they would like to cycle but the only reason why they don't is simply because people are afraid of the traffic and this means they are afraid of cars, lorries, white van drivers, buses but they are not afraid of other cyclists.

So get on yer bikes Londoners!
Camilla




SEE ALSO
Are two wheels better than four?
21 Aug 09 |  TV & Radio
London and the Copenhagen effect
20 Aug 09 |  People & Places
Sharp rise in London bike theft
18 Aug 09 |  London
Met's drive to halt cycle deaths
17 Aug 09 |  People & Places
Bike 'convoys' into London begin
14 Aug 09 |  London
Cycling challenge set for workers
01 Jun 09 |  London


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