Yesterday I joined in with the Space for Cycling Big Ride 2014, organised by the London Cycling Campaign, along with thousands of other Londoners. Why? Well, apart from the chance to trundle, stop start, through central London without being hampered by cars, I wanted to continue to send the message to our politicians that they need to do more to make London's streets more inviting to cycle.
I joined in with the Greenwich cyclists feeder ride, starting at Cutty Sark Gardens, a place incidentally where cycling isn't allowed, in typical bonkers Greenwich council style. I could have joined the Lewisham cyclists ride, which went along the Waterlink Way, but I fancied a change. It has to be said though that certain parts of the ride in made it abundantly clear why we needed to do the ride in the first place - the conditions favour motor traffic pretty much everywhere at the moment.
We passed through Southwark Park on our way in, which was lovely, and Norway day celebrations were in full swing. I didn't manage to get a picture of them sadly though.
We eventually arrived at Speakers Corner around 11ish and then headed down Park Lane to the ride start. We were quite near the front, which was good. The last one of these I went on I was near the back and it was even more stop start.
Just time for a bit of checking twitter before we set off on the ride...
We eventually arrived on the Embankment and I spotted this rather cleverly doctored Boris Bike:
We stopped by Blackfriars Bridge to listen to the speakers, ironically (or perhaps not) as this bit of road is pretty horrendous for bikes. We heard speeches from Labour and Lib Dem Assembly members Val Shawcross and Caroline Pidgeon, had a hastily thrown together note from a Tory member (none of them came along....) read out to us and also heard from Natalie Bennett, leader of the Greens, who was the most convincing of the three, perhaps not surprisingly. We then heard Andrew Gilligan who reeled off a whole load of things that are going to be starting in the autumn, pleaded for us to give him time to get things right (18 months and counting so far...) and blathered on about the fact that there are 33 boroughs involved in all this making it so much more difficult. The LCC has tried to address this with its campaign around ward asks - which are supposed to be simple tangible things councils can do in each ward in London (all 600+ of them). To be honest, I've heard it all before from Gilligan, and won't clap and cheer him until I've seen some action. I remain to be convinced - and here's my unconvinced face to prove it:
Deciding to eschew the guided ride back to Greenwich (or Lewisham), we headed back with a ride led by me, on quieter streets (mostly) round the back of the Elephant, through Burgess Park, Surrey Canal Walk, and Peckham Rye, with a sneaky stop off at the Ivy House for a quick drink to quench our thirst. It was a great day, thoroughly enjoyable, lets just hope it leads to some action before many more cyclists are needlessly killed and seriously injured. I want J&C to be able to cycle more safely on London's streets than I can at the moment! (And the most convincing and best speech of the day came from a mum who is one of LCC's trustees and simply wants her son to be able to cycle safely to school.)
Here's the route in full (if the strava widget works):