It’s the eve of London mayoral elections, and more than ever before, each candidate’s cycling policies have become a major election issue. So, who gets the Cyclechic.co.uk vote? Well, reluctant as we are to pigeonhole our customers (who come from all walks of life and enjoy varied political affiliations!), the conscientious, eco-aware cyclist naturally leans towards Green. And sure enough, Green Party Candidate Jenny Jones offers by far the most comprehensive pro-cycling policies. She is fully committed to the LondonCycling Campaign’s “Love London, Go Dutch” initiative, which aims to establish a continental-standard cycling infrastructure in the capital, as well as having strong policies on reducing traffic and establishing 20mph zones on all streets where people live, work and shop.
Of the two leading candidates, however, Ken is by far the better option, in that he has also committed to the “Love London, Go Dutch” campaign and, significantly, has pledged to appoint Jenny Jones as his cycling policy adviser, should he be elected.While Boris may be the “Cycling Mayor” in the public perception, in reality his policies sell us all short. In 2008 he promised us a “cycling revolution”, yet one of his very first moves when he came to office was to slash funding for the London Cycling Network, an attempt to create a large-scale cycling network across London, and then the road safety budget.
When the news broke that he had run up a £4,698 taxi bill in his first year alone for short hops across London, we started to get suspicious. Was Boris, always a master of controlling his own image (don’t fall for the bumbling fool routine), merely using cycling as a means to convey that he was one of us and not the toffee-nosed Bullingdon Boy he really was? And meanwhile, when the cameras weren’t rolling, was he just whizzing around London in a black cab?
Even the lauded “Boris Bike” scheme, it turns out, was Livingstone’s idea, which was inherited and implemented by Boris, albeit, we admit, to great success. However, his continued policy of high fares for public transport will make it cheaper to travel by car and do nothing to promote safety on the capital’s roads.
Perhaps Boris’ true colours were revealed by his ill-judged speech this week at the cyclesafe hustings organised by The Times newspaper, in which he told the assembled cycling crowd: “I can humbly say to you, I may not conform to your idea of a stereotypical cyclist: I do not have whippet-thin brown legs or dreadlocks, I do not charge around in lycra, I do not jump lights… ” Cyclists, he continued, believe themselves to be “morally superior”. The indignity!
So, while Ken’s apparent narcissism might be a turn off to a lot of us, of the two frontrunners, he’s far more committed to cycling issues than the so-called “Cycling Mayor”, who seems to think we’re all a bunch of lycra-clad traffic light-hoppers. He clearly hasn’t visited this blog.