Roundabouts

London Cyclists stage mass ‘die-in’

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Following the recent deaths on London’s busy streets, cyclists in the capital held a vigil and protest outside the headquarters of TfL (Transport for London). Despite the cold we lay down next to our bikes and made a pretty bold statement that TfL can no longer ignore.

Vigil and protest combined
Vigil and protest combined – TfL employees watched from their offices.
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We’re not just ‘cyclists’, we’re people on bikes.


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A photograph of the event posted by the 'STOP KILLING CYCLISTS' campaign
A photograph of the event posted by the ‘STOP KILLING CYCLISTS’ campaign

London’s die-in was reminiscent of the famous Dutch die-in that took place in the 1970s on the museumplein outside the Rijksmuseum.

The original Dutch die-in
The original Dutch die-in

The Dutch campaign was motivated by the number of people (particularly children) who were dying on the roads. Their protest achieved remarkable things in terms of their infrastructure, and 40 years down the line they are still reaping the benefits.

Dutch solutions to London’s problems aren’t really so radical, and their implementation would only requires a modest degree of commitment from the government.
Look at how they deal with HGVs and roundabouts Рsurely this sort of infrastructure is desirable for everyone, no?

On a side note, my sister was interviewed by the BBC during the protest, and her vox-pop even made it onto the evening news! I will try to upload a video, if I can find one…

My sister highlighted the benefits of cycling, both for the health of the population and for the environment. She also talked about how
In her interview, my sister highlighted the benefits of cycling for the health of the population and for the environment. She also talked about how poor the infrastructure in London is, and how standards on the Continent are much higher. Needless to say, I am very proud of her.

And the BBCs coverage of the event (my sister at 1:04)…

and another one…

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A post about roundabouts (of all things)

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The Dutch have done it again; as usual paving the way with an innovation that is as beautifully engineered as it is practical. Constructed between Eindhoven and Veldhoven, the new ‘hovering’ roundabout¬†separates bicycles from the motor vehicles below, harmonising high-functionality, aesthetic appeal, and plain old-fashioned genius.

My initial reaction of awe quickly turned to irritation as I realised that I don’t live in The Netherlands any more. This morning’s emotional roller-coaster took yet another turn as jealously turned to joy when I caught wind of plans for more conventional Dutch-style roundabouts to be trialled in the UK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-22347184

For those of you who are unfamiliar with how Dutch roundabouts work, check out this brilliant video from our friends at NL Cycling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhqTc_wx5EU

Dutch roundabouts are intuitive to use once you understand how the shark-teeth markings on the road indicate priority, and there’s really nothing to it. Roundabouts can be pretty dangerous and intimidating places for cyclists in the UK, but in The Netherlands they are a breeze. Transport For London (TFL) has raised concerns that the Dutch design might reduce the speed of motorised traffic. Personally, however, I don’t see that as a cause for concern, but rather yet another benefit of a concept that prioritises the most vulnerable road users.

If the UK is realistic about meeting emissions targets, combating sedentary lifestyles, and generally improving the nation’s health then a great way to do this is to incentivise cycling by introducing measures to protect and prioritise people on bikes. It frustrates me when such a simple and elegant solution to so many of our country’s problems exists within tantalising reach but remains obstructed by a system that perpetuates antiquarian notions of cars as symbols of progress and success.

Russell Brand was wrong to tell the youth not to vote; we need to vote, and we need to vote for some serious change if we want to see it happen in our lifetime. It’s hard to believe, but until the mid-seventies the Dutch had a car-centric culture and a government who gave little or no consideration to bicycle infrastructure. The people got angry, voted for a left-wing government, and good things started to happen; laws changed, cycle paths were build, and road deaths decreased dramatically. I really don’t understand why we can’t do the same.