We might see more women, children and a greater diversity of riders in the capital if the mayor and his cycling tsar forged ahead with their promise to transform cycling
Wed 30 May 2018
Will Norman, who is London’s cycling tsar under mayor Sadiq Khan, has identified a problem with bike use as it exists in the city. However, it’s one where the solution lays primarily with Norman and his boss.
In an interview with the Independent, Norman said he worried cycling in the capital was too much the preserve of white, middle-class men. Many might agree. But what Norman omits is that this isn’t down to the cyclists – it’s a direct product of the streets they are forced to use.
The evidence from around the world shows that the more safe and reassuring the road infrastructure is for bikes, the greater the variety of cyclists. In the Netherlands, for example, a slightly higher proportion of women cycle than men. In Odense, which styles itself as Denmark’s most bike-friendly city, 81% of children ride to school, generally without their parents. These are places that have spent 40 years making streets more amenable to human beings.
In contrast, London remains a largely feral and hostile environment for cyclists, despite the arrival of a handful of so-called cycle superhighways. It is a road culture that emphasises speed and assertiveness, and this tends to put off many but the most gung-ho, enthusiast riders, who tend to be drawn from a smaller demographic pool.