South West London councillors pledge support to Get Britain Cycling campaign


The petition has already attracted over 27,000 signatures.


By Fran Diaz, Beth Marsh and Stephen Walter

The ‘Get Britain Cycling’ campaign has South West London councillors pedalling their support by encouraging more people to cycle to work.

The petition, launched yesterday, had already attracted over 27,000 signatures by Thursday afternoon and requires 100,000 to be debated in parliament.

It hopes to have 10% of the population cycling to work by 2025, a five-fold increase on the current figure.

A spokesman for the National Cycling Charity, also supporting the scheme, said: “Councillors can always do more to help encourage more people to cycle.”

The petition, funded by a £10,000 donation from News International, outlines 18 recommendations including better road surfaces, cycle training for schoolchildren and improved lorry design and driver training.

Last year, 14 cyclists died in London, two of which happened in SW London.

Eight-year-old Ali Nasralla died of head injuries after a collision with a black cab in Kingston as he cycled home from Robin Hood Primary School.

Tube worker and cycling enthusiast Neil Turner, 31, was also killed on Mitcham Road in Croydon last July, leaving behind a five-month old son.

Sir Chris Hoy, Dame Sarah Storey and Chris Boardman joined MPs in rallying support for the campaign.

Prime Minister David Cameron praised London Mayor Boris Johnson for promoting cycling in the city and called on town halls rather than central government to make roads safer.

Mr Cameron said: “I hope local authorities can follow his lead and do more.”

However, Stefen Piatek, borough coordinator for Kensington & Chelsea’s London Cycling Campaign, believes it is both a national and local issue.

He said: “There still needs to be a national drive as well as at local council level but council’s nationally need to be doing more.”

John Higham, a cycling instructor at the Royal Borough of Kingston Council for nine years, said he believed that around 4% of Kingston constituents cycle to work – around double the national average.

Mr Piatek added that the council is working with the ‘Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling’ campaign to stop collisions between the two.

Croydon, Hammersmith & Fulham and Lambeth council have also pledged their support for the initiative.

A 2011 study of cycle accidents in London found that a cyclist is 78 times more likely to die in a collision with an HGV or large lorry than cars.

Meanwhile, bike shops in SW London have benefitted from the government’s initiatives and the success of British cyclists in 2012.

Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour de France before Team GB won an unprecedented seven gold medals in the Velodrome at last summer’s Olympics.

James Venters, of Action Bikes, Wimbledon, said: “There is more interest. The Government’s schemes help to raise the profile of cycling.

“We are getting a lot more first time cyclists but I think it’s more to do with the positives of cycling in terms of fitness.”

Photo courtesy of ell brown, with thanks.

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