After reading that the mayor’s Cycle Friday initiative hadn’t quite taken off as Boris Johnson had hoped, I wandered down to Cutty Sark Gardens this morning to see how the Greenwich leg was doing. It’s a scheme to help new cyclists get used to London’s roads, by having marshalled rides starting at 8am each morning from various points across inner London. One runs from central Greenwich to St Paul’s Cathedral.
Well, some 16 cyclists set off towards Deptford just after eight o’clock – including at least one marshal and one other person who was checking people’s bikes for safety. Plus there were two people flyering the event at Cutty Sark station. So, at the most, that’s 14 genuine cyclists, and four people to run and promote the event. Hard to say that it’s a waste of cash – if those 14 people take up cycling to work for good, then that’s 14 fitter people and less pressure on the public transport system. And if a different 14 people are on the scheme each week, then that could add up to a handy number. So, despite practical quibbles (it’s no good if you’re unsure about cycling to Greenwich or cycling onwards from St Paul’s, for example) this could be a good thing, although it’ll clearly need some refinement if the exercise is to be repeated.
But while I was sat watching the cyclists get their bikes checked out, in the 10 minutes I was there, at least 16 cyclists headed towards the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. That’s the same Greenwich Foot Tunnel which is set for closure as part of a refurbishment scheme. And the same foot tunnel that Boris is reluctant to step in to help the hundreds of cyclists who use it each day. It seems like once the mayor has helped you to get to grips with cycling, you’re going to be left on your own after that. (UPDATE: See this on tunnel “scaremongering” from Tory Troll.)
But still, hopefully the 14 cyclists on Cycle Friday will pick up the habit – it was a lovely morning for it. Me, I turned around and got the bus home…