The third annual die-in and vigil for people killed while riding bikes in London will be held later this month outside the TfL HQ on Blackfriars Road.
Since the first die-in, 21 people have been killed in London alone. Many of those were women and many of the deaths were caused by HGVs. Both are over-represented in the stats.
We have also seen a huge change on the streets, at least in central London and now in the mini-Holland developments. Calls to pedestrianise Oxford Street are making steps forward. Segregated sections for cycling are appearing in more places.There is still a long way to go.
First protest back in 2013
The silent killers of obesity and air pollution are killing vast numbers of people. Together, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease kill 31% of people in the UK. 13,000 people are dying prematurely in London because of air pollution. That number alone is terrifying and probably higher. The care cost from treating patients is also hammering the NHS.
Class war on the poor
The UK is now one of the most obese nations in the world, 3rd most obese in western Europe. Prof John Newton, chief knowledge officer at Public Health England, said poor nutrition and lack of exercise were a big risk factor in Britain’s most deprived areas. Many of those are in London. With the population increasing and public transport stretched and the cost of living going through the roof (of your overvalued semi) cycling provides a solution to many of the issues London faces as a city.
Owning a car is expensive
Yet the situation we have is that, as a society, we pretty much ask everyone to own one. The alternative is a ramshackle, underinvested, public transport system that is operated by private companies, for profit, not public service. The poor get poorer. Leaving less money for essentials, like good food.
It’s not just physical health. The poor are more likely to suffer from mental health issues than those on average incomes. Just this week it was reported that more than a quarter of Londoners are in poverty. These aren’t all unemployed. Most of the people in poverty are working and working damn hard.
This development is clear for all to see by looking at Mexico as an example of how the poor are most hit by obesity. Cycling infrastructure provides a way for people to save money, get exercise and stay fit – physically and mentally.
We often look for technological improvements, such as self-driving cars or electric vehicles. However, neither would get people exercising more and both would still keep roads congested. We could all drive Teslas and the roads would never improve – and the energy to drive them doesn’t just magically appear.
What we need first, are proper, safer and fit for purpose cycling facilities, linked up across the whole of London. It will make driving a pain – not that it isn’t already. But that is kind of the point. You should drive when you have to, not because you can. This doesn’t mean withdrawing access for cars, it does mean restricting and reducing access. Cycling becomes easier, driving becomes harder. If you need to pick-up that wardrobe, then you’ll make that trip by car. Otherwise, to pick-up the milk or the kids, you’ll ride.
Then there are the disabled. They’d benefit too. Watch this until the end.. try not to shed a tear.