London cycling die-in protest outside TfL offices on 29th November 2013

by Tom Turner @ 8:27 pm November 29, 2013 -- Filed under: Cycle planning,landscape planning,Sustainable design   

I have been hoping for a protest like this for years and was delighted to be there. Here is my next suggestion: Transport for London TfL should set a target for the percentage of journeys to be made by cycling and then (1) raise the percentage of the transport spent on cycling to that level eg 30% (2) ensure that the same percentage of TfL staff commute to the TfL office by bike.
Here is an excellent BBC news report on the demo in which Donnachadh McCarthy an organiser of the Stop Killing Cyclists Campaign, calls for 10% of the TfL budget to go on cycling (compared to 35% in Holland) and makes the excellent point that the Board of TfL is ‘big businessmen’ – with no representatives of pedestrians or cyclists. I see this as a key point. It is likely that TfL staff often cycle to work and support cycling. This is less likely to be the case for big businessmen.
Boris: please remember that you are the only politician I have voted for who has ever been elected: now is the time to come good: organise a London Cycling Summit and cram the board of TfL with die-hard cyclists. Please re-read the history of Lloyd George’s victory over the House of Lords. He asked “Should 500 men, ordinary men, chosen accidentally from among the unemployed, override the judgement – the deliberate judgement – of millions of people who are engaged in the industry which makes the wealth of the country?” The 1911 Parliament Act was passed only when King George V said he was willing to pack the House of Lords with Liberal peers to ensure the vote would swing their way. Bring on the cyclists.
The November 2013 event could be a great precursor for a full-scale event in The Mall in 2014, remembering Martin Luther King and the March on Washington of August 28, 1963. The 2014 event should be on the same weekend as another London cycling event eg the Prudential Ride on Sunday 10 August 2014. It is part of the Mayor of London’s annual festival of cycling.


  1. Do you think they would agree to participate in an installation at the Tate Modern? They are really something with all those blinking bike lights!

    Comment by Christine — December 2, 2013 @ 2:06 am

  2. Great idea about the Tate Modern.
    I have been thinking about how to fill The Mall with die-in die-hard cyclists. We have lots of big cycling events in London and they could end with cyclists arriving The Mall and laying down their bikes, if not their lives. It would be tricky to organise but, I think, would lead to victory in the battle for cyclists rights. Another way of doing it would be for every cyclist to occupy a full car’s width of roadspace and travel at less than five miles/hour. We could call it a cyc-in.

    Comment by Tom Turner — December 2, 2013 @ 2:51 am

  3. Another way would be for cyclists to ride on the pavements in a cluster with a motor cyclist front and back on the way to work in peak hour.

    This would disrupt pedestrians – rather than endanger their lives – but make the point that cyclists don’t belong on pavements (because they endanger pedestrians) and don’t belong on roads (because they are endangered by cars) but need their own transit space.

    Comment by Christine — December 3, 2013 @ 4:19 am

  4. All suggestions for imaginative protests gratefully received!
    In Germany and Japan (for example) they mark cycle lanes on pavements. In London there are some pavements (eg Regent Street) where not a single cyclist could be accommodated. But there are other very-wide pavements with hardly any pedestrians. So they should look at the issue yard-by-yard and not have any general principle.
    Another problem in London is that cyclists have boy-racer-wildcat habits. They are not not gentlefolk, like Japanese cyclists, or well-behaved, like Dutch cyclists. So it can be a real issue if pedestrians or dogs, let alone trucks, stray onto cycle lanes.

    Comment by Tom Turner — December 3, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

  5. Interesting to know that different cyclists from different nations having differing cycle cultures! Please tell me more about ‘boy-racer-wildcat’ habits? Do the girl cyclists in London exhibit these traits too?

    Comment by Christine — December 4, 2013 @ 1:43 am

  6. Here is Simon Jenkins view of London cyclists ‘But then wildcat cycling is a facet of London’s zany street culture. It is the citizen pitching anarchy against regulation, personal freedom against a draconian state. Like many freedoms, this one is dangerous — but not as dangerous as headlines suggest.’ I do not think Londoners are aggressive, even now, but they have always been willing to take up arms for a good cause – as Charles I, Napoleon and Hitler discovered. London cyclists are now manning and womaning the barricades.

    Comment by Tom Turner — December 4, 2013 @ 5:43 am

  7. :(

    Comment by Jerry — December 7, 2013 @ 1:20 am

  8. Did the fatalities in London occur inside or outside the designated cycle lanes?

    Comment by Christine — December 7, 2013 @ 2:27 am

  9. Both of them. The common factor in most of the tragedies was trucks with blind spots not covered by their mirrors.

    Comment by Tom Turner — December 7, 2013 @ 7:50 am

  10. Could they fine trucks for not having mirrors to cover their blind spots or ban them from the centre of London? Are there particular intersections or parts of London were this problem is worse than others?

    Comment by Christine — December 9, 2013 @ 4:23 am

  11. Yes and yes. They are talking about mirrors & blind spots but do not yet have a rule. The famous danger point of this autumn is Bow Roundabout:

    Comment by Tom Turner — December 9, 2013 @ 6:53 am

  12. Proposal to the LCC London Cycling Campaign for a large-scale cycling protest

    Comment by Tom Turner — February 23, 2014 @ 5:32 am

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