Last Thursday the Times launched a campaign to ‘Save Our Cyclists’. It was also the first anniversary of the death of 28-year-old Dan Cox, killed on his bike by a lorry at Dalston Junction. A memorial walk traced his last journey across the city. A ‘ghost bike’ near the spot where he was hit has been painted white and adorned with flowers and a copy of Kafka’s The Trial.
On Friday, a cyclist in his sixties was killed by a bus on Bishopsgate, the first fatality of 2012.
On Monday, Bikes Alive organised the third ‘go-slow’ of cyclists and pedestrians at the King’s Cross gyratory. Last October, Min Joo Lee, a 24-year-old fashion student, was the third cyclist to be killed outside King’s Cross in five years. William Perrin, a community activist, is lobbying for a corporate manslaughter charge to be brought against Transport for London, who ignored their own expert’s warnings about safety at King’s Cross.
Both TfL and Boris Johnson are as eager as ever to boast their cycling credentials, but the figures tell a different story. According to TfL, there were 19 cycling deaths in London in 2006, 15 in 2007, 15 in 2008, 13 in 2009, 10 in 2010 and 16 in 2011. Last summer, Tory members of the London Assembly walked out on a cross-party motion to impose a permanent 20 mph speed limit over Blackfriars Bridge. When the Tories returned to vote later in the summer, the Assembly agreed unanimously that a review of safety on the bridge was needed: TfL ignored them.
Long-established pressure groups such as Sustrans and the London Cycling Campaign, which have developed relationships with government and TfL over the years, have more recently been joined by grassroots movements like Londoners on Bikes, set up to encourage people to ‘vote for the mayoral candidate who will do the most to make Londoners safe on bikes’. A recent YouGov poll puts Ken Livingstone narrowly ahead of Johnson: if the race stays that close, the votes of cyclists could swing it.