Christian is well-known as a commentator and writer on transport issues, having for many years worked for The Independent. He used to be on the board of Cycling England, which was unfortunately abolished by the current government in its drive to cut down on “quangos”, although it was in fact a small body which did alot of good work very efficiently.
Christian has recently become a LCC Trustee and is keen on “Love London Go Dutch”. However, he argued that the politicians are nowhere near sufficiently radical to be able to really improve transport conditions in central London. It should be obvious that what is required is a bold plan to eliminate most motor traffic in city centres – as for example in Amsterdam, Groningen or Bordeaux – but British political culture doesn’t seem likely to produce such approaches. Instead, the best we seem to be able to deliver are small-scale (and intensely resisted) improvements, such as Leicester and Trafalgar Squares
Addressing the upcoming London elections, Christian evinced little optimism for the outcome. Boris is likely to win, and has shown that although he is a cyclist, he hasn’t really got much idea about what is needed. As evidenced by his daft comments about the safety of the Elephant and Castle roundabout, Boris is what Christian termed a “Top Gear cyclist”, willing and able to whizz around in a boyish fashion and so pretty useless at understanding how to provide conditions that might encourage new people to start cycling. The Cycle Superhighways are proving to be a disaster; the only good outcome is that Transport for London is starting to get seriously rattled about the casualities, as manifested by its announcement to do a review of 500 junctions. The bicycle hire scheme is fine, but very expensive for Transport for London , and the money could have been better spent on cycling infrastructure. Christian’s insistence on refusing to refer either to “Boris bikes” or to “Barclay bikes” impressed the audience! Ken, by contrast, has shown greater vision when it comes to transport in London – as with the congestion charge and the great improvements to the bus network – but has never really understood cycling, and hardly shone in this area when he was Mayor.
Christian’s entertaining and informed talk then stimulated much lively discussion, with Christian staying afterwards for refreshments and more chat.