Published: 4th MArch, 2011
by PETER GRUNER
THE leader of Islington’s largest cycling group, Alison Dines, this week branded the borough’s much-heralded 20mph zones “unenforced and ineffectual”.
Ms Dines, co-ordinator for Islington Cyclist Action Group, who represents some 700 local cyclists, blamed the police for not providing sufficient deterrents against speeding vehicles.
She said that with every side road in Islington now designated 20mph, the borough should be one of the safest places for bike riders in the land.
She added: “The truth is, of course, that motorists break the speed limit regularly because they know they will get away with it. And that puts all cyclists in danger.”
She also blames Islington Council for not being as cycle friendly as it should be. “I detect an atmosphere of anti-cycling officialdom. We’re not being consulted on a number of issues. Street barriers are put up, like the one recently in Tufnell Park, and we’re not told about it. We are having to fight against more car parking, which results in dangerous obstacles in roads that are currently cycle friendly.”
Up to 10,000 people cycle regularly in the borough. They include Mayor of London Boris Johnson, MPs Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn, and Islington’s Labour leader Councillor Catherine West.
“Speeding traffic is not the only problem,” Ms Dines continued. “On top of that, there are the big gyratory systems at Archway, Highbury Corner and Old Street which pose big dangers.”
The huge trunk roads are always a problem because cyclists have to avoid heavy lorries – one of the biggest causes of accidents. Another potential hazard has been caused because motorcyclists are now able to share bus lanes with cyclists.
Ms Dines would like to see Islington leading the way for London to become as cycle friendly as many cities in Europe and Scandinavia. “But unfortunately the car still has precedence on our streets and will do for some time.
“People who don’t cycle say they would like to see segregated bike lanes like they do in some European cities. Unfortunately, it is never going to happen in London because we don’t have the space.”
She welcomes Boris Johnson’s cycle hire scheme which has been a great success and encouraged more people to take to two wheels. “The hire scheme is popular because it encourages people to cycle in their normal clothes as part of their daily routine.”