A Bittersweet Moment

“I want more women cycling, more older people cycling, more black and minority ethnic Londoners cycling, more cyclists of all social backgrounds – without which truly mass participation can never come.”

Sweet words from London’s Mayor. Bravo Boris. Not.

Aw come on. What’s not to like?

There’s a lot to like, don’t get me wrong, but he’s fired the starting pistol before calling all the participants on to the track. For 32 pages the header proclaims “An Olympic Legacy for all Londoners” and he’s name checked every one of those Londoners except the disabled. Where’s the Paralympic Legacy for Londoners? It’s just the same old same old.

Wouldn’t fit across the top of the page though would it: “THE MAYOR’S VISION FOR CYCLING IN LONDON – An Olympic and Paralympic Legacy for all Londoners.” Come to think of it he hasn’t mentioned kids either.

Not there, but they get a section entitled “Helping children cycle”. And there’s a case to be made that ‘Olympics’ should cover both the able and the disabled, but only if and when the disabled cease to be an afterthought.

Hmm. Seems people using bikes as mobility aids are a minority within a minority. Are you sure they don’t get a mention anywhere?

Look for yourself. The only reference to the disabled throughout the whole document is “More dropped kerbs will help older and disabled people.” Dropped kerbs are good, that graphic on the cover showing the nice wide cycle track running along Victoria Embankment is good too, but how many times do we see cycle tracks made inaccessible by barriers, narrow gaps or such tight turns that trikes, handcycles and tandems struggle or find it impossible to get through? Designing adequately for the disable is good for everyone. In fact, you could put “design for handcycle, trike and tandem” in the design brief and bicycles would be covered by default. It needs turning on its head.

They simply haven’t given any thought at all to disabled people using bikes in London have they. Which when you think about it is unbelievable after such an incredible Paralympic Games.

Unbelievable because it isn’t true. TfL have thought about it. They consulted extensively to produce the Disability and Deaf Equality Scheme 2009-2012 in which, under the heading “The cycling revolution”, it states:

“Cycling can be one of the most accessible forms of transport for many disabled people and during the development of the DES, TfL met with representatives from disabled cyclists organisations and other stakeholders in this area. It is clear that disabled and Deaf people are keen to be seen as part of this revolution and want TfL to make sure that they are included when plans are being drawn up.”

One of the groups referred to there is the London Disability Cycling Forum which made an excellent case for access. It goes on to say:

“TfL recognises that more needs to be done to raise awareness among policy makers that disabled and Deaf people cycle and also to raise awareness among disabled and Deaf people of the benefits of cycling in London.”

My emphasis but I couldn’t agree more.

So having asked the disabled, recognised the issue, written it down so they wouldn’t forget, TfL promptly forgot all about it when drawing up this “step-change in cycling provision”. And according to that LDCF story you’ve linked to, forgot about Dame Tanni Grey-Thomson as well. 

Precisely. A Paralympian. In fact now The Baroness Grey-Thomson who handcycles to the House of Lords. You know the place, it’s part of that big building at the end of Victoria Embankment.

I do, but it’s obviously not visible from City Hall.

Fuck City Hall. Let’s get a beer and ask The Last Leg “Is it OK not to have a Paralympic Legacy for Londoners?”

3 thoughts on “A Bittersweet Moment

  1. Andrew Ross

    The saddest thing about this excellent post is that TfL had the information sitting there already, but as so often happens in organisations it was probably tucked away in a different department and no-one thought to put the pieces together.

    Reply
  2. Kevin Hickman Post author

    Thanks Andrew, I appreciate the compliment.

    I thought the same, a case of right hand left hand, until I went back to the beginning of each document. Sir Peter Hendy signed off both of them with a foreward; 580 words for the Mayor’s Cycling Vision and 380 words for the Disability and Deaf Equality Scheme.

    He clearly read both documents and I think his words are sincere in each case. The time between them is about 3 years though which is probably significant.

    “…no-one thought to put the pieces together.” Yes, having identified something cycling related that TfL wanted to input into cycling related policies and projects, they then failed to employ a process to do it that didn’t rely on someone remembering what it was. Those processes exist in industry for designing complex products and systems, perhaps they need to do some research.

    Alternatively, they could just set the agenda by saying “This will be an inclusive* cycle network.”
    *accessible to bikes, trikes, handcycles, tandems, cargo bikes, men, women, children, the elderly, the disabled… ie, inclusive in every sense of the word. That’s what was asked for, they just need a simple way of recalling it.

    I think that word ‘inclusive’ should be enough to jog the memory and set the expectations of everyone working on the project.

    Oh, along with an apology of course. I think the people who lobbied and participated in TfL’s consultation feel very let down at being overlooked.

    Reply
  3. David Lincoln

    Hi, you might be interested in our campaign Tufnell Park Cycles to School which aims to get children cycling, walking or scooting to school as part of their daily routine. We want to establish a safe route to school linking 6 schools and 6 parks or play spaces. The schools include a community Special Educational Needs school.

    Our proposal is for a route that is suitable for all abilities.We recognise that families will often have mixed needs when travelling to school eg there might be a child cycling beside a parent pushing a pram with another child on a scooter. We want the route to be accessible to all as you say bikes, trikes, handcycles or mobility scooters etc. We may lack some details as our knowledge only reflects our own experience but we are reaching out to organisations such as pedalpowercc.org to ensure the route is inclusive in its design from the start.

    We are looking at the Mayor’s Vision as a possible source of funding for the route under the proposed Cycle to School Partnerships. The Tufnell Park Cycles to School initiative could be extended or replicated across London and perhaps could be a model for a more inclusive vision for cycling that can be a legacy for the Paralympics.

    Reply

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