What’s a Cycle Superhighway Not?

A main arterial road traversed by HGV’s and coaches with a splash of supernaturally protective blue paint that’s what not.

Thanks to http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.co.uk/ for this photo of my commute

Thanks to http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.co.uk/ for this photo of my commute

When some people hear that I cycle in London their immediate reaction is disbelief that I’m still alive.  They imagine a death defying commute where I arrive in work amazed to still be in the land of the living.   In fact as I struggle to explain that my hair raising cycle (that breeze can fair frizz your locks!) is far from killing me.

As part of my job I work with a huge number of people who have suffered brain injury and it’s not fun for them or their family.  However it’s worth noting I’ve only ever worked with one person who has experienced a brain injury due to a bike accident and that was years ago when I was a care worker.  What I do see daily is people living with the debilitating effects of brain injury as a result of a stroke.  Not to mention all the people I treat with diabetes, heart disease and lung disease.  I will admit that this is partly because many people with traumatic brain injuries will usually be taken to specialist centres however the main reason is that while relatively few people in this country will ever suffer a traumatic brain injury sadly the same can’t be said for stroke.   In fact, along with heart disease, stroke is one of the UK’s greatest killers.

Far from cycling being dangerous it’s sitting on sofa’s eating cake that’s killing us.  In fact I’ve even treated a man in a coma resulting from choking on a piece of cake.   Now, I’ll admit cake related tragedies are few and far between and I am certainly not looking to limit your enjoyment of cake.  It’s no secret that when I grow up I want to be Mary Berry (crossed with Miss Marple of course) and I think that a bit of cake goes a long way making the world a nicer place.  The problem is that not enough of us move enough to burn off a teeny tiny side salad let alone a double chocolate gateaux.

Liz's Wedding - Frankies Pictures 149

Cake Cake Cake

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists suggest that we should try to move for 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.  The problem is that most of us are pretty busy and squeezing in time to get moving is a super tough.  Many doctors feel that it’s an uphill struggle to get their patients moving despite the well known risks of sitting still.  If we don’t get people moving then we are all going to pay the price.  From the tax payers funding the ever expanding health bill to the families living with the individual tragedy of stroke.

Cycling to work makes getting my prescription of movement super simple.  Not only that but it means I save almost 30 squids a week. Added to that I’m not adding to the pollution inducing gridlock blocking up our streets and making us sick.

So  Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy why why would Transport for London not want to make it super easy for people to cycle.  Think of all the people not sitting on the tube or bus, not clogging up our streets with fumes and not sitting in our hospital beds.

I know a lot of people who would love to cycle but are too intimidated by London’s roads fearsome reputation.  Of course not everyone minds busy roads.  I see a large number of lycra clad men speeding through south London of  a morning unpeturbed by busy roads.  I know I stand out a mile cycling among them on my pre-war flower covered roadster if only because I cycle wearing my normal everyday clothes.  Lycra and my behind do not see eye to eye.

bike pose

Helium powered cycling

As I said before cycling is not as dangerous and many people would like us to believe but that doesn’t mean sharing the road with fast moving cars is safe or fun.  What newby cyclists want is help to find the friendly routes through the city an enjoyable and obviously way to get from A to B.  That would be er not Cycle Superhighways.  grrrrr

Cycle superhighways are like the biggest joke ever played on London’s cyclists.  I planned my commute using the wonderful cyclestreets.  It guides me through the maze of London’s streets and lets me balance the safety of the route with the time it takes.  In contrast to cyclestreets, London’s cycle superhighways push cyclists onto the most dangerous roads to battle with some of London’s heaviest traffic with nothing but the supposed protective power of a swipe of blue paint to save you from danger.  Even better when the route gets hairy the blue paint gives out leaving bikes floating in the middle of some of our busiest roads.  Thanks! but no thanks.  Bow road and Southward Bridge approach I’m looking at you!

On our way home this week we found Southwark Bridge closed to traffic and police guarding the wreckage of a bike.  I’ve not been able to find out any information about what happened last night and I hope that the reason for this is that the crash wasn’t serious.  It drives me crazy that cyclists keep getting pushed into the most dangerous places on our roads.  It’s time for people who organise our roads to start putting people first.  The people who want to cycle to work.  The people who want to breath clean air even in the middle of a city and the people who don’t want to sit on a bus in a queue behind the people too selfish to get out of their posh car and walk or buy a bus ticket.

Central London Cycle Map

Central London Cycle Map

The London cycle map would be a major step forward for people who cycle in London and people who want to to cycle in London but are too intimidated.  It’s a cheap and easy to implement but so far the people who have the power to lable up the routes haven’t been interested.  Preferring to spend our hard earned cash on cycle hire schemes (very popular with bankers on in suits and hipsters I’ve noticed) and of course blue paint.  Boris be ashamed.  Thanks for nothing from London cyclists.

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2 thoughts on “What’s a Cycle Superhighway Not?

  1. Have you ever cycled in Amsterdam? It’s Amazing. Wide safe cycle lanes, no hills, and right of way! Don’t suppose it’s practical (oh, or maybe as healthy?) to iron the country flat, but the rest is worth working on!

    • I Loooove cycling in Holland – we go there to visit family quite a bit and it always makes us realise how much of a challenge London is to cyclists. That said you can tell you live up north Clare. London is super flat, Like Amsterdam it’s only bridges that provide any incline. The only real exercise I get is crossing Southwark bridge.

      I only got my vintage gearless relic of a bike after we moved south and I keep having to remind myself I could never cycle it in Edinburgh. I would go backwards trying to heft it up the Royal Mile for starters. I once got stopped by a policeman on “the Mound” because I was cycling so slowly that my dynamo wasn’t working- the shame!

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