Feargus O'Sullivan is a contributing writer to CityLab, covering Europe. His writing focuses on housing, gentrification and social change, infrastructure, urban policy, and national cultures. He has previously contributed to The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, and Next City, among other publications.
Five bicyclists were killed on the city's streets in November alone, leading to a dramatic protest Friday.
Cyclists staged a "Die-in" in London on Friday to protest a recent spate of cycling deaths on the city's roads. Massing outside the offices of Transport for London, the body governing city transit, protestors lay down in the road way, lit candles and held a moment of silence for the cyclists who have died recently on London's streets—a group currently growing at an alarming rate. Five London cyclists died in collisions with motor vehicles over just nine days in November. The atmosphere has gotten so bad that an estimated 20 percent of London cyclists have stopped bike commuting due to safety fears.
While London Mayor Boris Johnson is famously a cycling fan, he's caused some controversy by blaming "very risky" behavior from cyclists for the deaths. In fact, many of the problems stem from London’s poor cycling infrastructure. Blue painted bike paths – grandly called "cycle superhighways" – threaded through the British capital certainly give bike users the illusion of protection. But they rarely have any real, protected separation from motor traffic, and several recent deaths have happened in spaces that cyclists are encouraged to consider safer. Transport for London have come under fire for the deaths, but say they are spending $1 billion on improving the city's roads.
For Friday's protesters, this disputed figure didn't go far enough. "We want a real budget, at the moment we're getting crumbs," said protest organizer Donnachadh McCarthy "We want an integrated cycling network in London within five years and we want a say at the top table."
The photos below, of Friday’s protest, were originally published in the UK’s Cycling Weekly.
All images courtesy of Daniel Gould/Cycling Weekly.