I see TfL have revived last year’s inexplicable cycling promotion campaign this summer. The posters show a wittily prescient picture of London landmarks made out of dismembered bicycle parts and the headline: ‘London – A City Made For Cycling’. WTF? Describing London as a city made for cycling is akin to describing a cow as an animal made for pole-vaulting – its just so wrong, and in so many ways, that it’s hard to know where to start. London – like all major cities – is made for making a few people very large amounts of money. Everything else is just incidental. There may be some cities – in Denmark, maybe, or Holland – where cycling is pleasant, or at the least non-lethal. London is not one of them.
London does need more people to cycle. It’s the only way our transport infrastructure could actually accommodate any more growth, and more cyclists makes for safer cycling (even with the cunning deployment of the passenger door, a car can at best only pick off two or three of us at once). It’s just that adverts as patently wrong as this are not the way to acheive it. Anyone fooled into getting on their bike by one of these posters in the belief that their path will be strewn with rose-petals and flowers instead of broken glass and potholes and homicidal drivers will get off white and shaking after the first roundabout and cast their bicycle into the nearest canal, vowing never to ride again. Ken needs to find another way. And, as it happens, I have an idea.
You see the people he needs to convince are the petrolheads, the Mr. Toads, the Jeremy Clarksons of this world who still insist on driving whatever the personal or public inconvenience. Driving in London today takes a special sort of pig-headedness – unless you’re going a very long way, at antisocial hours, anything else would be quicker. But the die-hard motorists aren’t going to get on a bike because they think they should, or because they think it will be somehow easy. Oh no. A far better slogan – above a picture of a scarred and scary looking cycle courier type in Lycra – would be this
Cycling in London – Come on in, if you think you’re hard enough.