cfsmtb in low earth orbit

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

London: Cyclists in capital's driving seat

Matt Seaton, Guardian Unlimited: Cyclists in capital's driving seat
Sometimes I almost miss the bad old days. Twenty years ago, 10 even, cyclists in London could style themselves, at least in their own minds, as courageous urban guerrillas - bicycle-bound, bandana-wearing anarchists, who daily braved the hostile chaos of city traffic to get to their destination. There was an implicit camaraderie, because we were an embattled minority, outlaws living on the edge, enjoying a certain dangerous glamour. Even if most motorists just saw us as a nuisance.

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Image from UK Indymedia: Cyclists pay tribute to Vicki McCreery

Most motorists still see us as a nuisance, but in London they have had to come to terms with our presence. The cycle lanes - once a joke, now much improved - and advance-stop lines at intersections have marked out in graphic fashion that cyclists have a right to road-space. The subliminal psychic message may be more significant than the practical effect: cyclists belong, it says to other road users; they have legitimacy. Traffic calming measures and speed cameras have also helped to make the capital's roads seem a less scary environment.

.....In so many ways - improving public health, making city centres sustainable, reducing car dependency and cutting CO2 emissions - cycling is the future. London is winning that race, even if much of the rest of the country seems stuck in low gear. Dangerous glamour? Take it from me: it's overrated.....


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