Two people, Donnachadh McCarty and Steve Icame Isawi, became fed up with the lack of urgent progress by Transport for London on making London’s roads safer – not just for people who choose to cycle but also those who choose to walk.
The people at the peaceful event will be asking TfL for three main things:
- The Mayor and Boroughs to spend at least the same per person on cycling provision as The Netherlands (the UK spends about £1.25 per person and The Netherlands spends about £33 per person);
- Ban vehicles whose drivers cannot see adjacent road-users; and,
- Build a full London-wide segregated network urgently.
The event was inspired by the grassroots campaign ‘Stop De Kindermoord‘ (stop the child murders) which, a few decades ago, woke up the government of The Netherlands to the dangers people face due to poor infrastructure.
ROAD NETWORK IN POOR SHAPE
Today, the Netherlands has the world’s best provision for whatever vehicle, or none, you choose to use. As a result, more people feel safer in choosing to cycle or walk, and indeed are safer. There has also been a huge increase in the number of people who cycle to work, to school, or over to a friend’s place (about 30% to 40% versus 1% to 2% in the UK)
The situation in the UK is different. The road network is in poor shape – witness the complaints about potholes, which can be an expensive annoyance for people’s cars but deadly to people who ride on bicycles. Not only that though. The way the UK roads look and give ‘clues’ to how to use them are more often than not geared to people who choose to drive a car or lorry on them. This makes them not well suited to the people that walk or cycle on them; let alone encouraging more people to travel by foot or bike.
It is time to bring back some balance to our transport network; To make them fair for all people no matter what vehicle they choose to use.
GOVERNMENTS NEED TO ACT URGENTLY
To do that requires the governments – both locally and nationally – to act: Laws and regulations must be changed to give road design engineers the ability to mirror what is already in place in The Netherlands; and funds must be fairly allocated between providing for people that choose to drive and those that want to walk or cycle.
Transport for London (TfL) and the national Department for Transport (DfT) have so far let people down. For example, the Department for Transport rejected recommendations in the Get Britain Cycling inquiry report, even though over 100 MPs voted to support it! It is not too late for the DfT to look again at the recommendations and get behind them — that would be one ‘U-Turn’ on the roads that would be widely welcomed.
The result of TfL and DfT inaction has been an increased number of people killed or seriously injured (the ‘KSI’ statistic they use to measure road safety; noting that it doesn’t indicate how many people would cycle or walk instead of drive if the road network was made better).
The pressure must be maintained on both TfL and DfT to act urgently; To remove the conflict on the road network.
Please consider joining the peaceful protest on Friday. It is shaping up to be a changing point for the UK.