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Home » Features, Planet Issue

Planet Issue: Deaths on Britain’s Roads can put off Cyclists Despite Londons Mayor’s Encouragement

Submitted by on March 5, 2013 – 11:56 amNo Comment
Cycle hire scheme in London “Boris Bikes”.
Cycling is a great way to exercise and a form of travel environmentalists will always favour. To them, the more who choose to cycle rather than travel using vehicles that emit harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the better.

Last week Green party member Jenny Jones, presented a motion to the London assembly asking them to allocate an extra £41 million to the cycling budget.

This extra £41 million would be used to give cyclists more facilities, increasing Transport for London’s (TfL) spending 2 percent for cyclists. London Assembly’s conservative members rejected the motion despite having over 20,000 emails from those supporting the motion. Jones said for cyclists, it was “a great opportunity missed”.

Britain has seen cycling increase by 12 percent in the last 10 years. In London alone there has been a 117 percent rise since 2000. Whilst cycling attracts a large group of people from all different ages and backgrounds, unsafe roads and increasing death tolls of cyclists make it a less desirable option. The Times Cycling Campaign reported that 122 cyclists were killed on Britain’s roads last year – that’s almost two per week.

Cycling itself is a very safe activity; it is dangers on the roads that are causing an issue. The five year high death toll has been caused by a number of reasons; unsafe road infrastructure, lack of safety equipment being worn and unsafe drivers.

The London Cycling Campaign is an organisation which lobbies national government and local authorities to provide better streets for cycling. Their overall aim is to see fewer casualties on the road, and more cyclists.

Gerhard Weiss from the London Cycling campaign said: “There’s a saying, a junction or a street has never killed anyone, it is true, it is always done by people. But the design of a junction or road, will influence how people behave and that’s important.”

Another way London Cycling Campaign hope to improve roads for cyclists is through their “Safer Lorries for safer cycling” initiative. Weiss said: “Large lorries present the highest risk for cyclists and pedestrians in London. We’ll tackle the higher risks first. Lorries are responsible for over half the cyclist fatalities even though they only make up a tiny percentage of the traffic on the road.” The campaign is calling upon all London councils to use only their best equipped lorries and best trained drivers.

Weiss said: “Too many people die on our streets and too many people get seriously injured and even if you only have a minor injury, it’d probably be enough to put you off cycling or may even be life changing. That just shouldn’t happen.”

Despite rejecting to increase the cycling budget by £41 million, in 2010 the Mayor of London introduced a cycle hire scheme encouraging Londoners to cycle. In response to twitter users asking London’s Mayor Boris Johnson why he rejected the motion, Johnson said it was because he had already “more than doubled the cycling spend”.

There are approximately 8,000 “Boris bikes” as they are commonly known, being used in the London area. Boris said the bike-scheme will be extended to Wandsworth and the South-Circular encouraging cycling in London.

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