I seem to be the international face of London cycling…
At the weekend, Living Streets held a summit in London on the need to get people walking (and keep them walking), which alas I wasn't able to attend. But – greatly to the surprise of my friend in the audience – during the presentation by Janette Sadik-Khan (former transport commissioner in New York City and a respected and vocal proponent of cycling in cities), there I was, on screen, a lone woman cyclist in a group that completely fills the road.
The point Janette was illustrating* is that shopowners may be nervous of the economic implications of changes to encourage walking and cycling, but that data, coupled with images like this, can allay their fears. Make streets people-friendly, and the people will come!
But the circumstances behind the picture highlight a different, very specific point: that, despite all the progress, and all the cyclists, we need to maintain constant calls for better infrastructure. This is not a picture of rush-hour traffic. Instead, it was taken at a cycle protest at Bank in June 2015, following the tragic death of a young woman cyclist, Ying Tao. We are all cycling, grim-faced, through the lethal junction, both to remember her and to pile on the pressure for improvements (which are, nearly two years on, still not in place).
So I’m using my new-found (and frankly tenuous) celebrity to say that I am so proud to that this picture is part of a presentation that can be an inspiration to cities elsewhere.** But it is also a reminder to London's own Sadiq Khan to make good on his promises to increase spending, and get even more cyclists, safely, on the roads.
* The whole presentation is well worth a listen – it’s fun and informative, and I was glad to have the excuse to watch it. It’s available on Periscope
** Please don’t stop using the photo, Janette!
Oh, and just to prove that it really is me (and a shout-out to Glenn Copus, the photographer):