A study has found that freight vehicles were involved in 43% of all cyclist deaths on London’s roads between 1992 and 2006 and they were making a left turn in over half those incidents. The study calls for the removal of vehicles over 3.5 tonnes “from urban roads and more appropriate means of delivery of essential goods found.” Seriously? London would suffocate without the volume of goods being trucked around on its roads.

We need to all realise that cutting up the inside of a turing vehicle is just dumb and if one pulls up next to us then we need to be sure that they have seen us. Better education on both sides will save lives and be a much more workable solution than banning goods vehicles.

Image above by Garry Knight used under license.

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Mansions to muddy lanes

October 14, 2007

I used viaMichelin and Bikely to plan and plot my GPS led route from south west London to Dunstable.

Everything was going so well until I was instructed to turn off Kensington Road (A315) into Kensington Palace Gardens.

It has a police barrier and doesn’t look like its open to through traffic.

Road full of mansions

It turns out that this street contains some of the grandest and most expensive houses in the world and you can ride up it.

A few private residents occupy the mansions that line the street but most are either an embassy or the official residence of an ambassador.

In the 1940s it was also the home of the London Cage, an MI19 “interrogation centre” for German civilians and POWs that was kept secret and hidden from the Red Cross.

viaMichelin works

My GPS had a few problems keeping up in central London but viaMichelin took me north on some wide and quiet roads.

I was expecting Saturday morning chaos so the emptiness was quite eerie.

viaMichelin is not perfect

viaMichelin did send me down a lane signposted as a no through road however.

To be fair, you can get through on a bike, although not easily.

It could be a lovely rural cycle route between Watford and Hemel Hempstead if it wasn’t a muddy track (and the tunnel under the M25 had better lighting).

View from Dunstable Downs

Towards the end of the ride there were wonderful views out over the Vale of Aylesbury and Chiltern Ridge from the Dunstable Downs visitor centre despite the weather.

It is one of the highest points in the east of England at a massive 243 m (797 ft).

The centre has a good sized undercover bike parking area and according to the National Trust site, its cafe “serves chips and the famous Dunstable Downs Bacon Roll”.

I didn’t want to spoil my appetite so I managed to resist this tempting fare.

Maybe next time.

New free London cycle maps

August 24, 2007

London Cycle GuidesTransport for London launched the third edition of its free bike maps this week.

The 14 maps cover all 33 London boroughs and show the 500km of signposted London Cycle Network Plus routes along with 3,500km of other quiet routes, both on and off road, that have all been ridden and recommended by experienced cyclists.

The maps can be requested online or by calling TfL on 020 7222 1234.

I found the previous edition very handy when exploring a new area but hopefully these will be as hard-wearing as claimed in the TfL press release.

The previous edition was printed on magazine grade paper which meant the maps got very shabby very quickly.

Came across this piece in yesterday’s London Lite:

Ghost bike appears in park as tribute to victim

I was really touched by this story and hopefully others who pass this white bike in Greenwich Park will pause and reflect on why its there.

Cycling clothing label Rapha is hosting a party to celebrate the start of the Tour de France in London on Saturday, July 7th.

Organisers are hoping more than 500 people will join a planned ride from Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park to the party at London Fields.

At London Fields there will be a barbecue, drinks, music, a roller race and screens replaying the Prologue.

The route will take in Primrose Hill, Highgate and Crouch End and a map should be available on the Rapha site shortly.

UPDATE [June 30]

A map of the 13 mile (22km) route is available as a pdf from Rapha here.

It is also on Bikely here.

Image by © Ray Laskowitz/Brand X/CorbisCyclemaps.net has two very useful journey planners which are handy for looking up trips in and around London using either the direct route or via the London Cycle Network and minor roads.

However, I need to get to Reading tomorrow morning and figured I would ride there if I could find a decent route.

I could catch a train but as it is only three weeks until the British Cyclosportive, I need as much time in the saddle as I can get.

Searching online for journey planners throws up useful options from the RAC, the AA and Green Flag, all of which allow you to avoid motorways, but the most useful is ViaMichelin which has a cycling option.

The 68km route it suggested from my home to Reading station looks fairly direct and most importantly, not only avoids motorways but all major A roads too.

I’ve now plotted the route into Tracklogs so I can load it to my GPS and with tomorrow’s forecast of good weather, it should be a pleasant two and a half to three hours of riding.

These past few weeks of good weather have encouraged a lot of bikes out of their winter hibernation.

You can’t help but noticed how many more squeaking chains, low saddles and under inflated tyres there are amongst these returning commuters.

I am also noticing one or two more shiny new bikes with their riders virtually glowing in crinkly new hi-viz jackets.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone announced a couple of weeks ago that the number of cycle journeys in London has increased by 6% in the year to March and are up 83% since 2000.

What makes this particularly good news is that despite the increase, the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in this city has fallen by 28%.

Cycling in London is becoming safer because more people cycle.

It is as simple as that.

And the nice thing about cycling becoming safer is it encourages even more people to cycle.

London’s Evening Standard recently published a twelve point charter for safer cycling which Nic Price has detailed here.

  1. A real cycle network across London
  2. Better cycle lanes with proper segregation
  3. Enforcement of special advanced stop lines for cyclists
  4. HGVs to be fitted with special cyclist safety mirrors
  5. Compulsory cyclist awareness training for all bus drivers and new HGV drivers
  6. Make safe the Thames bridges: some of the most dangerous places for cyclists
  7. Cycle-friendly streets: fewer one-way systems which funnel cyclists into the middle of traffic
  8. More cycle parking across London
  9. A police crackdown on bike theft
  10. Campaign to urge the self employed to claim a 20p a mile cycling allowance against tax
  11. Better cycle-bus-rail coordination: adequate parking at all railway stations
  12. Cycle training for all schoolchildren and any adult who wants it

This looks like a decent list that will get more people riding but while I support it, I can’t see how the tax allowance is making cycling safer.