My ride had begun in Walthamstow. Heading west on one of two newly built segregated east-west cycle lanes, I passed people queuing outside a bike shop at 9am, like the French awaiting their daily bread.
This is the new normal: socially-distanced queues outside bike shops; Londoners desperate for repairs or a set of wheels.
Last week Transport for London announced £22.2 million for 508 schemes in 22 boroughs: 38 to improve cycle routes; 114 for “low traffic neighbourhoods”; 154 for “school streets” (where through-traffic is banned at the start and end of the school day); and 202 to increase space in town centres.
More will be announced on Thursday.While commendable, it’s not enough. We need to seize the moment with truly radical thinking.
At a stroke of a minister’s pen, traffic should be banned from the Royal Parks, and arguably the Olympic park too.
Each should host free daily cycle training camps throughout the summer holidays for children and nervous or novice adults.
Every borough should be mandated to deliver three east-west and three north-south routes, fully segregated and ideally linking their parks and town centres.
All borough leaders should be forced to ride down Oxford Street, Portland Place and Northumberland Avenue to see exactly how not to do it — and to Cannon Street and Bank junction to see what can be achieved.
Put simply, the lanes must be safe enough for a six-year-old child to use. Like the £15 congestion charge, we can pretend the changes will be “temporary”.
When faced with danger, cyclists can either take evasive action or ride assertively. This is our opportunity to tackle car culture. It’s time to take the lane.