Sadiq’s cycling supremo Will Norman has hit a bit of turbulence after telling the Independent that:
“There is a problem with cycling and the way it is perceived of getting middle-aged men cycling faster around the city, which is not the objective at all.
“It touches on something which is a real challenge for London cycling, which is diversity.”
“Even when we have seen the growth in the number of cyclists, we haven’t seen that diversity.
“There are a number of reasons for that. One is that safety is paramount for getting different people from different walks of life cycling: older people, younger people, those from different backgrounds.”
Norman’s comments are causing a bit of frenzy on social media where they’re being denounced as the latest sign of a ‘PC gone mad’ agenda from London’s Labour administration.
But in reality they simply reflect the consistent policy of City Hall under all three Mayors to increase cycling by making it easier for people from all backgrounds and of all abilities to take part.
Part of the reason for Ken Livingstone building his original cycle network was to ensure that:
“Thousands more Londoners can cycle in confidence, on routes that take them quickly and safely to where they want to go,” and it was this same ambition that helped provide the original impetus for the cycle hire scheme.
His successor, Boris Johnson, went further with both a more ambitious network of segregated routes and a clear, public statement that he wanted:
“More women cycling, more older people cycling, more black and minority ethnic Londoners cycling, more cyclists of all social backgrounds – without which truly mass participation can never come.
“As well as the admirable Lycra-wearers, and the enviable east Londoners on their fixed-gear bikes, I want more of the kind of cyclists you see in Holland, going at a leisurely pace on often clunky steeds. I will do all this by creating a variety of routes for the variety of cyclists I seek.”
This is exactly the same message that Norman conveyed over the weekend but was greeted with a lot less hysteria.
Instead of getting whipped up into a frenzy over the restatement of a decade-old ambition and twice inherited policy, critics might better spend their time asking what Team Khan have done in the previous two years to realise their ambitions.