“Where will your bike take you?”

It’s nearly time for the “Mayor of London’s Sky Ride.”

Which also means it is, habitually, time for Boris to cavort around with Kelly Brook on a nice safe patch of grass just outside the London Assembly.

Nice horn, Boris.

Personally I would quite like to have seen these two attempting to cycle across Blackfriars Bridge, or the Vauxhall gyratory, or around Parliament Square – but to be fair, it seems that Miss Brook had forgotten to bring to the photo shoot the appropriate safety equipment for using a bicycle in a ‘cycling event’  -

When Sky hired the lovely Kelly Brook to promote its Sky Ride we have a hunch that the flunky tasked with the job forgot to mention to her agent that it was a cycling event. That’s the only explanation we can think of for Kels turning up in a rather small dress and killer heels. But, ever the pro, the 31-year-old model and TV personality gamely took a shiny red shopper bike for a spin around Potters Field Park next to the Thames in London – and managed not to come a cropper. Shame she wasn’t wearing a helmet though!

And

Now, we’re not entirely sure that a miniscule dress and platform sandals make for the most appropriate bike riding attire, but she looks happy, and we’re not convinced she actually intended to go for a cycle, so we’ll leave her be. Besides, a helmet would just play havoc with that blow dry.

Indeed. It was the lack of helmet, flourescent vest and sensible ‘cycling clothes’ that prevented her from attempting to cycle on actual London roads. A wise choice.

Returning to the subject of the Sky Ride, Mr Johnson said

London’s fantastic Sky Ride is going from strength to strength, helping people of all ages and experience to enjoy the capital’s most iconic sights on two wheels. I urge people to dust off their saddles for this free and family-friendly event to enjoy whizzing through the city on traffic free roads. This is a key part of my cycling revolution which aims to make London a cycle-friendly city, encouraging more and more people that pedal power is the way forward.

Now I think that if you are aiming to make London a “cycle-friendly city”, one of the first things you should be asking yourself is why the bicycles of participants in the Sky Ride are gathering dust. The answer is obvious, and implicit in the very nature of the Sky Ride itself, which aims to create a ‘traffic-free’ environment.

It is precisely because London is cycle-unfriendly, all the time there aren’t Sky Rides. Make the streets cycle-friendly – in the case of Sky Rides, by closing them completely to traffic – and people will use them, and in great numbers. Last year’s 15 km route was so congested – over 85,000 people turned out to cycle around – that it actually ground to a halt. Unfortunately it appears that the route this year is even shorter, at only 7.2 miles, so I expect bicycle gridlock will be the order of the day.

Remove those cycle-friendly conditions, and these thousands of potential bicycle users – precisely the people who would ordinarily never, ever ride a bicycle in London, under current conditions – will evaporate. They’ve had their experience of safe streets for cycling, and enjoyed it. But that won’t translate to a desire to mix it with HGVs, lorries, vans and taxi-drivers. The Sky Ride – contrary to Boris’ empty guff – does nothing to make London a ‘cycle-friendly city’, except for the few hours that it is in operation. As Freewheeler puts it

The message of Sky Ride is that if you provide a safe, traffic-free environment people will come in droves. Unfortunately this is not the conclusion which will be applied by Transport for London, Boris Johnson or the London Cycling Campaign. Their message is to enjoy Sky Ride, get some cycle training, and then plunge into the world of vehicular cycling in London. Sky Ride is ultimately nothing more than a gimmick. Even its route takes place on roads which are regularly closed off to traffic for parades and demonstrations. London as a city remains car-centric to the core and Sky Ride does nothing to address this. Boris Johnson and Transport for London are far more interested in prioritising motoring than they are cycling, and this transport culture simply isn’t prepared to re-allocate road space for cycling.

Children like the ones shown in the picture below, advertising the Sky Ride, just do not use London’s roads. I have never seen a child this young cycling in London, except on the pavement (it is, of course, commonplace to see young children cycling in Dutch city centres).

It is delusional to imagine that a Sky Ride going to do anything to encourage children like these, and their mothers, to cycle on London’s roads under ordinary conditions.

The Sky Ride website poses the question “where will your bike take you?”

 The answer is almost certainly “straight back into the garage at home, where it will collect dust until next year’s Sky Ride play an active part in London’s Cycling Revolution.”

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This entry was posted in Boris Johnson, Cycling policy, Helmets, Infrastructure, London, Road safety. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Where will your bike take you?”

  1. Todd Edelman says:

    Would be nice to see Boris and anyone with him trying to avoid bombs being dropped on them which are financed by Barclays.

  2. Just watched the compendium of lunacy, ignorance and arrogance filmed by Gaz. Felt quite ill at the end. I’ve stopped using my head cam while commuting as it was making me bitter rewatching and editing the footage. I still cycle defensively but just can’t bring myself to film it anymore.

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