British Cycling challenges mayoral candidates to make London safer for cyclists

General cycling, commuting

British Cycling president Brian Cookson has published an open letter to the candidates for this year's London mayoral elections, asking what they are doing for cyclists in the capital.

The mayoral elections take place on May 3 2012, and the number of serious accidents and deaths involving cyclists in London has pushed cyclists' safety up the political agenda.

One week ago, experienced cycle courier Henry Warwick was hit and killed by a coach in Bishopsgate. The 53-year-old had been a campaigner for cycle safety in the capital - and believed that cyclists should take a mandatory cycle proficiency test.

A total of 16 cyclists were killed on London's streets in 2011, and many more seriously hurt in collisions with other road users. The overall number of cyclists on London's streets has increased dramatically in recent years, but more needs to be done to ensure their safety.

Cookson is calling for the new mayor to promise a greater investment in the education of road users to propagate a feeling of mutual respect on the roads. He also calls for a reduction in inner-city speed limits, controls over the presence of large lorries, and the improvement of road infrasctructure to accommodate cyclists.

The points raised are echoed in the Times newspaper's current 'Cities Fit for Cycling' campaign (opens in new tab) which commenced last week.

Cookson's full letter is reproduced below:

I am writing to you ahead of the Mayoral elections for London in what will no doubt be a tremendous year for sport and cycling in the capital. At British Cycling we are privileged to be able to look forward to a summer of Olympic and Paralympic sport in our capital city with all the surrounding benefits such as the venues that will be left for us to use and the way the Games will inspire more people to get on their bikes.

Much has been done in London to encourage cycling and we are seeing great growth in the numbers of people riding, whether as part of organised sporting activities or just for fun or transport. With the World's best riders like Mark Cavendish, Victoria Pendleton and Chris Hoy competing here, London has the opportunity to lead the way in how cycling can be made a central part of the city's culture.

I would like to hear your specific plans for cycling and how you intend to encourage more young people to be given the opportunity to take up sport, including cycling, with all the social benefits this creates. In particular British Cycling would like to hear how you intend to make the city safer and friendlier for cyclists. Whilst we know that as more people have taken up cycling it has become safer and overall accidents are coming down, we have still seen fatalities and serious incidents in London last year, many of them involving heavy goods vehicles. This issue concerns all cyclists, whether it's elite riders going out to train, someone who commutes to work, or a busy mum who wants to do some laps of Richmond Park on Saturday morning to keep fit.

We've been hearing from our members on the issue of safety and there is no doubt that the cycling community, most of whom are also car users, want to see more action from politicians to address this. Some of the points that cyclists repeatedly put to us are the need for:

(a) greater investment in education and training/driving tests so that we build a culture of mutual respect on the roads;

(b) the reduction of speed limits in the city;

(c) more controls on the presence of HGVs, such as the way they are designed to enable the driver to see cyclists and improved HGV driver training;

(d) the pro-active enforcement of the law on mobile phone use;

(e) the re-design of particular junctions and cycle lanes which pose a danger, particularly to inexperienced cyclists;

(f) the repairing of damaged road surfaces.

If you can please let me know what your specific policies are in these areas, and of any other ideas that you have, I shall make sure they are communicated to all our members in London and indeed all those who are interested in cycling.

British Cycling looks forward to working with the new Mayor to ensure that Londoners get the cycling legacy from the Olympics that this great city deserves.

Yours faithfully,

Brian Cookson

Current Mayor of London Boris Johnson (Conservative) is one of the leading candidates for the mayoral elections, which also includes former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone (Labour), Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat), Jenny Jones (Green Party), Carlos Cortiglia (BNP) and Lawrence Webb (UKIP).

The successful candidate will hold office for a four-year period.

Related links

British Cycling calls for road safety reforms

How Britain has failed cycling

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Nigel Wynn worked as associate editor on, he worked almost single-handedly on the Cycling Weekly website in its early days. His passion for cycling, his writing and his creativity, as well as his hard work and dedication, were the original driving force behind the website’s success. Without him, would certainly not exist on the size and scale that it enjoys today. Nigel sadly passed away, following a brave battle with a cancer-related illness, in 2018. He was a highly valued colleague, and more importantly, n exceptional person to work with - his presence is sorely missed.