Sunday, 29 April 2012

Cycling in the rain: the Big Ride

According to the London Cycling Campaign ten thousand people turned up for the Big Ride on Saturday, despite a steady drizzle and grey skies all day. It certainly seemed like a lot of bikes and people from the stage area, at the bottom of Park Lane, waiting for the ride to start moving: a sea of red and yellow waterproofs packed in solid, all three lanes, all the way back up to Marble Arch. The roads were closed to traffic, but this was nothing like the Skyride, no tearing around in both directions. The ride proceeded sedately, stopping at pedestrian crossings, so it took just over an hour to get from the starting point to the finish line on the Embankment.

The point of the ride was to support the LCC's campaign to make London's streets more people friendly. There's been a certain amount criticism of Boris Johnson in connection with the issues of cycling safety and giving priority to vehicular transportation, to the point that it almost seemed inappropriate to come to the ride on a Boris bike. It's worth considering his actual achievements though. A cycle hire scheme that seemed to materialise overnight. The cycling superhighways, incomplete and widely criticised but still quite a step forward. Decluttered streets (probably miles of railings removed and a move towards shared space, intended to promote shared responsibility (Exhibition Road, Oxford Circus)rather than enforced separation. Not everything he's done is right or admirable but as Londonist says today, apart from his vanity projects, quite a lot of what he's done is relatively modest, making quiet incremental improvements that spend money where it can really make a difference.

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