Vanishing point

My undoubted highlight of Saturday’s Big Ride in London was entering Piccadilly from Hyde Park Corner and seeing, for the first time, the full extent of the protest.

As one of the last to set off, and having been waiting for half an hour to cross Park Lane to join the tail end of the ride, I had already had some idea that this was going to be a big protest, but this was really quite incredible. From Hyde Park Corner, where I was standing when I took this photograph, the ride stretches off into the distance, actually out of sight – all the way to the Ritz Hotel, about half a mile away.

Given the wet, cold and windy conditions, this really was a fantastic turnout, one that I hope will send a clear message that the status quo is nowhere near good enough, not even for those who currently feel confident to cycle in London on a regular basis, let alone for those young children on the ride who were cycling around central London in complete safety, for once.

This particular stretch of road is, ordinarily, a race track. You can see what it normally looks like on the right hand side of this photograph, showing the west-bound carriageway.

I used to cycle along the eastern section of Piccadilly fairly regularly on my old commute, and I have to see I never saw a child cycling there. (I can say that with some confidence, because it would have been fairly startling, enough to stick in the memory.) Looking at the photograph above, it’s not very hard to see why, with lorries thundering along a dual carriageway, and cars jostling for position. No consideration has been given to cycling along this road, despite it running from Hyde Park right into the West End, an ideal route for families on a weekend trip.

We need to ask serious questions about why large swathes of society – the young, the elderly, females, the disabled, even just the less nimble –  have effectively been excluded from cycling on our streets, despite their willingness to cycle under safe, pleasant conditions. I hope Saturday’s ride is just the start of that questioning process.

This entry was posted in Infrastructure, LCC, London, Road safety, Subjective safety, The Times' Cities Safe for Cycling campaign. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Vanishing point

  1. livinginabox says:

    I cycled-in from the edge of outer London. I too thought the turnout was magnificent, especially when considering the weather. I hope the politicians and the powers that be, take full and proper note that we have been fobbed-off many times in the past, it’s not going to work any longer.

  2. Lorenzo says:

    On a London theme, did you see this in the Substandard last week?
    Er, link doesn’t look clickable, I’ll stick it in the ‘website@ box below. It’s obviously not my website but a link to a story in the Standard about Addison Lee’s view on cyclists.

  3. Lorenzo says:

    Sorry, link is clickable once posted. Sorry for confusion, and double post.

  4. Mark,

    What a fantastic day! We were right down the front and there quite early. By 11.40 it was still really quite, with not many folk behind us. Then it just happened, wave after wave of cyclists came down Park Lane, until you couldn’t see the back.
    Part of me is glad it was foul weather. It made it clear that despite the elements, people had point to make, and they made it in their thousands.


  5. Cyclestrian says:

    Aha thank you! This is the first picture I’ve seen of the whole ride with our family represented in it, somewhere. We were late, asked the stop/go board people to look after our bikes while we fed the kids in Pret @ Green Park tube. It wasn’t really the best weather for baby’s first picnic. We joined the ride near the front (thanks again to marshals). Really glad we made the trip from Hampshire — I think we were part of a tiny minority from outside London (no other bikes seen on our trains or terminus concourse, just drunk rugby fans). Hope to being able to enjoy London overground on two wheels on future trips whether business or pleasure. It’s such a shame to get off the train at Waterloo and then disappear into the crowded tube to get to one’s final destination when there is so much to enjoy above ground.

    Very proud of our eldest child for two reasons. First because it was the furthest he’d ever cycled. Second because by the end of the ride he really understood the cause and a little the democratic process. Oh and he experienced his first London bogey–will these be a thing of the past if London really does go Dutch and air quality improves?

  6. Wyadvd says:

    I am a rapid cyclist who relishes riding on virtually any road. However, your post made me think. Everyone should have the right to cycle at any speed , in reasonable safety on our roads. Well said.

  7. Mike Chalkley - Chair Bournemouth Cycling Forum says:

    We live in Bournemouth – the only articles about this I’ve seen have been on cycling blogs – nothing on the news!

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