The Times ‘Cities Fit for Cyclists’ Campaign – Bringing it closer to home

The Times Cities fit for cycling

Update 28 March:

After questions from cyclists in the borough, Richmond Council made an announcement via Twitter that LBRUT does support the #cyclesafe campaign. We will continue to maintain pressure on the council to demonstrate how they are enacting the eight points laid out by the ‘Cities Fit for Cyclists’ campaign manifesto.

Update 10 March:

The Times have launched an interactive map where you can mark dangerous parts of your regular cycle routes. See the link below and upload yours.

Original Post

On 2 February, The Times newspaper launched its ‘Cities fit for cycling‘ campaign which brought to national media attention the need to make our streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians alike. Even more impressive was that The Times removed their paywall for the many articles related to the campaign.

A lot has been written on the campaign, and we’ve included some interesting links at the bottom of this post for you to peruse, but what hit us most was the personal nature of many of the stories that The Times shared, included that of Debbie Dorling, the wife of Hounslow cyclist Brian Dorling who was killed last year on the London Cycle Superhighway at Bow Roundabout. Here’s a selection of some of the quotes that caught our eye, you can read the full list online.

“My husband had a basic human right to cycle to work and get home alive. You can’t just say goodbye to your loved one as they cycle off in the morning & never have them come back”  Debbie Dorling, wife of Brian, killed at Bow Roundabout

“We need to show the real grief of these accidents. She said she found cycling in London a bit intimidating at times, but said it was safe as long as you were aware and careful” Allister Carey, father of Ellie, killed in South London

“Sam was moving in with his girlfriend on that very day. He had already moved all his belongings down to Blackheath and was just cycling down with one last bag on his back, while his girlfriend sat waiting for him and wondering where he was.” Keith Harding, father of Sam, killed in North London

“Richard was wearing bright cycle gear, but the driver claims he didn’t see him, while he was overtaking two cars at once on a frosty day”  Barbara Haigh, mother of Richard, killed in Potters Bar

Two key events that took part as a result of the Times campaign were an Early Day Motion with a parliamentary debate on cyclist safety, instigated by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert, and on the eve of that debate, a ‘flash ride’ attended by nearly 2,000 cyclists, many from our borough, showing the real depth of feeling on the subject. The Times encouraged everyone to write to their MP to get their support for the campaign, to sign the Early Day Motion and to attend the debate and many in the borough took up the task.

Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, signed up to the EDM and responded to those who had written to him, in support of the campaign. He attended the debate on the day, which was so well attended he unwittingly ended up on the opposition side of the chamber! During the debate, he highlighted the concerns of HGVs in relation to cyclist safety and the need to consider means to restrict the number (of HGVs) on our roads.

Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham was unable to sign the EDM since as a government minister (he’s Business Secretary) ministerial code prevents him from doing so (amazing what you learn about parliamentary protocol!). He was also unable to attend the debate as he was out of London on a visit to the South West. He did state, however that he was supportive of the campaign, highlighting that he cycles regularly to his constituency appointments. A big thank you to local cyclist Matt who uploaded Vince’s response online.

You can see the full debate online, it makes an interesting read.

The next stage is to take the campaign local, as given the challenges we have here in Richmond, being excluded from consultations and being told not to campaign about safety, we need to get the message out that we care about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists on our Borough streets and roads. Norman Baker, Transport Minister and Mike Penning, Road Safety Minister, have written to every council encouraging them “to review your provision for cyclists at junctions as poorly designed facilities here can cause particular safety problems” and recommending that councils appoint a senior official responsible for cycle provision.

We want you to write to your councillor and ask for their support to make our streets safer as part of the Times campaign – you can find a list of local councillors here (there is even a nifty tool to find out who represents you). It doesn’t need to be long, just highlight the points of the Times Campaign and how that relates to the borough, and you can also check out what some of them said last time we wrote to them.

We will also be bringing that message to the council, but it is individual contact that makes the difference. Let us know about what response you get and we’ll share it here. Cambridge City Council has passed a motion to support #cyclesafe, there’s no reason why the Richmond cannot do the same.

Join us too on 28 April when we’ll be organising a feeder ride to London Cycling Campaign’s ‘The Big Ride’ in central London to keep the focus on campaigning for safer streets. More details will be posted closer to the date about the feeder ride.

Articles on The Times ‘Cities Fit for Cyclists’ campaign

“”I am truly sick of fearing for my life on my daily commute; I’m sick of being treated like a nuisance on the roads” – Anna from the Pineapple Bike Blog on why cyclesafe is so important to her

“As someone who pays really quite a lot of tax I’d really appreciate it if you’d stop building this sort of thing” – Mark from ibikelondon on why cyclesafe is so important

“In the small rural constituency of Devon, Totness, 11 cyclists have been killed or seriously injured in just 5 years.  Population: 67 thousand, of which cyclists, 2% at most. Can we stop toeing the “we mustn’t talk about how dangerous cycling can be in case it scares people off cycling” line now, please?” – Mark, from ibikelondon on the parliamentary debate

“MP implies people who use a bicycle to get to work ‘not essential to the economy'” – Danny, from Cyclists in the City on MPs’ reactions to the cycle safe campaign

“..the UK spends £0.79 per person on cycling… a real commitment would see that figure nearer to £10. Even that is less than half what is spent per head in countries like the Netherlands” – Danny, from Cyclists in the City on the parliamentary debate

“we’re going to have to do both the traditional campaigning stuff and also start to move beyond it with different voices that don’t come from such a campaigning background” – Danny, from Cyclists in the City on British Cycling’s support for the Times Campaign