I joined a 2,000 strong ‘flashride’ after work this evening. It was in support of The Times ‘Cities fit for Cycling’ campaign which itself has resulted in a large number of MPs being contacted by their constituents – something I myself have done – demanding that the safety of cyclists and promotion of cycling in this country is finally addressed and supported. This in turn has led to an Early Day Motion which now has the support of 67 MPs and is being debated in the House, tomorrow.
A very short vid I took:
I have never taken part in any type of rally, protest or demonstration prior to today. It was great! A real feeling of solidarity among like minded people who want to make a difference – making our roads safer for cycling and encouraging more people to take it up. Eminently sensible when the vast majority of car journeys in this country are <2 miles but most people are put off because they consider that cycling on our roads it just far too dangerous.
As I have mentioned before – I had little interest in cycling until I lived in Japan where everybody cycled. Not, I should add, in head-to-toe lycra, high-vis and helmets – but in their ordinary clothing. Cycling is just part of the way of life over there for all age groups and all people. I really enjoyed that experience but it’s taken me more than a decade of living in London to take up cycling here (since last autumn). It’s difficult to compare cycling in Japan with cycling in the UK because culturally it is poles apart.
Anyway, I’m digressing. We met on the Mall just after 6.15pm and I was shocked at just how many cyclists were then when I arrived at 6.20pm or so. It was like being on a runway at Heathrow after dark – a sea of flashing lights. I had noticed a big increase in bikes on the road when I cycled to work this morning and imagined it might be in connection with tonight’s rally!
It was very well organised – fully marshalled and with a police escort. The roads were closed along the route and I have little doubt that the 2,000 strong cycling contingent made quite a sight coming up Whitehall, over the bridges, around Trafalgar Square, etc. We got a lot of cheers from tourists along the way (including what looked to be a large party of Dutch school kids at the end of the 1 hour cycle when we got back to the Mall!) and a lot of pedestrians were frantically snapping away on mobile phones to capture the raucous cavalcade as we came past.
I’m looking forward to the next ride in April which is in the run-up to London’s mayoral elections. I’ll be there.
PS Congrats and thank you to Danny from Cyclists in the City and Mark from ibikelondon for rallying the troops today and getting such a great response! It was a damp, cold winter evening but the turnout was amazing.