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Last Week in London Cycling (April 9. - 15.)

Each week, I round up the biggest news in the tumultuous world of London cycling. Everything from junction overhauls to whatever’s stopping cycle superhighways from being built this week. Enjoy!

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A bit late to the party on this one, but nonetheless: on Thursday, the Guardian reported that cycling is now the most popular form of transport in London during rush hour.

The findings, part of the ‘Traffic in the city 2018’ report, were originally reported by several cycling magazines back in February, before the document was officially released:

"Traffic volumes of all vehicular modes (except cycling) have decreased over the last two decades by at least one-third", says the report.

While encouraging, the paper also makes the claim that cycling in London has reached its peak over the last five years, and that ‘significant changes in cycling infrastructure provision’ may be needed to spur further growth (paging mr. Khan)

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Speaking of improving cycling infrastructure, Cycle Islington announced that it will be holding a Healthy Streets Hustings on April 16th (today!), open to all residents:

The attending local politicians will be quizzed on “how they propose to shape transport policy to reduce air pollution and road danger and create a better, healthier Islington.”

Among others, the panelists will tackle topics of childhood obesity and inactivity, air pollution, creating low-traffic neighbourhoods and cutting off rat runs.

The Hustings will be held at Christ Church Highbury, 155 Highbury Grove, with at 6:30pm start.

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Ex London cycling czar Andrew Gilligan is the latest victim of unexplained road rage.

According to Gilligan, a driver deliberately drove a car into him, totalling his bike and leaving him with long, gnarly cuts down his shin (warning: NSFL). He says he was “very close to being paralyzed”.

Apparently, Gilligan was cycling along Bishopsgate when a black SUV suddenly stopped in front of him, knocking him off his bike. He went to confront the driver who appeared to be getting out of his vehicle:

“He looked rather threatening so I thought I should cycle off. He revved up and went straight into the back of me.”

The driver fled the scene, but was quickly apprehended by the police.

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A new study was published this week looking at cycling injury risk in London and how it relates to exposure, i.e. cycle and motor vehicle volumes.

The study was conducted by Dr. Rachel Aldred, Reader in Transport at the University of Westminster, whose other cycling projects I’ve mentioned in the past. It looks at a period between 2013 and 2014, and makes a strong case for the ‘safety in numbers’ theory:

“For each increase of a natural logarithmic unit (2.71828) in cycling flows, an 18% decrease in injury odds was found. Conversely, increased motor traffic volume is associated with higher odds of cycling injury.”

The paper also found that 20 mph - compared to 30mph - speed limits related to 21% lower odds of cycling injury. Unsurprisingly, residential streets were associated with reduced injury odds, and junctions with “substantially higher” odds of getting injured.

Naturally, the paper concedes this does not take into account London’s newer cycling infrastructure, built from 2015 onwards.

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“Is this really what passes for a cycle route in 2018?” asks Evo Lucas, after encountering a completely flooded section of Quietway 2 by Wormwood Scrubs.

The drainage issue is even worse than it first appears: in a video that Evo later uploaded, you can see the entire area is under water.

Evo also asked Will Norman for some new socks as reparation: he’s yet to get a reply.

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Attention good people of Lambeth: Active Travel Now will be staging a ‘Make The Lane’ demonstration on Wednesday, April 25th.

Want to show your support for improved cycling infrastructure? Don’t have anywhere else to be at 7:45 AM? If that’s you, hop on to the junction of Baylis Road and Lower Marsh to help make a human-protected cycle lane, and send a message to your local council.

You can also send a message to the organizers on Twitter to let them know you’re coming.

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If you’re at all interested in the history of cycling in London, don’t miss out on The Wheels of Time, a free exhibition celebrating cycling in Kingston and Surbiton currently held at the Museum of Futures:

“The exhibition looks at bicycles for leisure, for sport and for work and the impact they have had on travel, life opportunities and fashion”

'The Wheels of Time' is still open this Monday, Tuesday and Saturday from 10.30am-2.30pm.

If you can time it, the Kingston School of Art students will also be holding their own 'Bike to the Future' cycling map exhibition at the Museum this Saturday (the 21st), starting at 3pm.

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And if that’s not enough cycling history for ya, be sure to stop by Look mum no hands (49 Old Street) on April 18th for the book launch of Bikes & Bloomers: Victorian women inventors and their extraordinary cycle wear.

Written by Kat Jungnickel, a senior sociology lecturer at Goldsmiths, the book investigates how Victorian women adapted to the mounting complexities of contemporary cycling wear. Conventional skirts were impossible to ride in, and more ‘rational’ outfits could easily end in verbal - and physical - abuse:

“In response, pioneering women not only imagined, made and wore radical new forms of cycle wear but also patented their inventive designs. The most remarkable of these were convertible costumes that enabled wearers to secretly switch ordinary clothing into cycle wear.”

The launch event will also include a panel discussion, led by the author herself.

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If you want to see where London’s cycling activism is heading, looks like the freshly-announced Hackney Cycling Conference 2018 is the place to be.

Held on May 17th, it “will be the first major cycling conference after the local elections in May 2018 and comes at a time when active travel is high on the political agenda.”

The event’s certainly headlined by some big names, including Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Steve Brooks, National Director for Sustrans Wales and Andreas Røhl, who spent 7 years as director of the Bicycle Programme at the City of Copenhagen.

The general admission fee is £70, with discounts for students, non-profits and local authority.

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And finally, let’s all wish a happy 100th birthday to Ernie Witcomb from Welling, a lifelong cycling enthusiast and former bike shop owner.

As bikebiz reports, Witcomb’s 1970 bike shop “was the destination of choice for would-be American framebuilders. Witcomb Cycles trained the likes of Richard Sachs, Peter Weigle, Chris Chance and Ben Serotta.”

Ernie was also an accomplished competitive cyclist himself, and seems to (at least partially) credit the two-wheelers for his longevity:

"I think to reach 100 you need to be active, be kind and enjoy a sweet sherry."

Couldn’t have put it better myself, Ernie.

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That’s it! Did I miss anything else that happened in London cycling this week? Do let me know in the comments.

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