RAC Foundation Director slams the door in the face of London’s Cyclists

cycling shorts across bridge

"He needs to think less about attention-grabbing policies linked to niche modes of travel like cycling and grasp the bigger problems of transport in the capital, not least congestion in outer London.

With the best will in the world, encouraging a few more people onto their bikes is not going to solve the relentless jams in the suburbs.”

That is what the Director of the Royal Automobile Club Foundation, Stephen Glaister, thinks about cycling as quoted yesterday in the BBC. In short cycling is not the solution. I presume that from an organisation that represents the interest of motorists the solution, according to them, would be to continue building expensive infrastructure to support an unsustainable mode of transport. After reading their report I guessed completely right that is exactly what they want to do. Who would have thought it?

The next part of the report is really startling. Get this, some parts of London may become “no go areas for cars”. Heaven forbid!

“With increasing demand for road space, many areas of central London could become no-go areas for cars because of the proliferation of road works, bus lanes and cycle-ways.”

Wouldn’t that be terrible! Roads open to just cyclists and buses?


What if?

What if instead of doing the exact same thing we have been doing since the 1970’s, ignoring cycling and promoting dominance of our society by cars, we instead allowed ourselves to think differently for a moment. What if we just stepped outside that limited sphere of thinking that says the car is the only way to get around and allowed our minds to drift. What if we asked ourselves: what if?

What if John, who is constantly tired of his 2 hour commute into work, cycled to the train station, got on a train and then cycled to his office. Maybe he would feel more energised. I think he would certainly feel better with around £2,500 extra in his pocket if he goes car free*.

What if Alison, who is scared to take up cycling due to the manic traffic, was able to cycle on a path separate to the road. Maybe she would leave the car at home?

What if Jamie and Lisa, were not afraid to let their kids go to school on their bikes so that would be one less car on the road every day, twice a day.

These are just hypothetical people that represent millions of daily commuters. What if everyone started doing this? When would we reach the tipping point

What if we allowed ourselves to dream? Would London’s transport infrastructure look a bit more like this:

What if London was a bit more like a fellow European country, the Netherlands, where 27% of journeys are made by bike. Would that then still be considered a  “niche mode of travel”?

The definition of insanity by Albert Einstein: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. No RAC Foundation, we refuse to be insane.


*Rail season ticket into London for a year from High Wycombre = £2,760, Second hand folding bike = £200. Typical cost of running car for a year = £5,539

Image source: Martino’s Doodles’

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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6 Responses to RAC Foundation Director slams the door in the face of London’s Cyclists

  1. Carlton Reid 02/10/2009 at 9:16 am #

    Excellent article!

    And how every different this RAC Foundation bossman is to the last one. Edmund King, now the president of the AA, knows that it’s daft to drive a car in London: http://quickrelease.tv/?p=986

  2. Andreas 03/10/2009 at 9:44 pm #

    Thanks Carlton, really glad you enjoyed having a read through. Also thanks for the link to the relevant article.

  3. Andrea 04/10/2009 at 8:26 am #


    why buy a cheap second hand bike for £200? It is much more sensible to buy a new Brompton for £600-700.

  4. Andreas 04/10/2009 at 12:23 pm #

    Hi Andrea, thanks for your comment. I was trying to highlight the potential saving. I agree that if you have the money then buying new is great. Why not buy a new electric bicycle for £2000 for that matter? But if you don’t have the money then buy second hand and make some fixes – if you know what your looking for you can get some great deals.

  5. Jenny M 05/10/2009 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi Andreas, you’re not the only cycle blogger to pick up on this – a new chap also wrote in equally exasperated terms here rather compellingly: http://ibikelondon.blogspot.com/2009/10/rac-fails-to-get-it-completely.html

    Glad all of the cyclists are abreast of all the issues – lord knows you guys need to be organsied in the face of well PR’d nonsense that the RAC Foundation is spitting out!

  6. MarkA 07/10/2009 at 10:15 am #

    Hey Andreas, thanks for the comment and the link – have added a link to you on my blog. Good to know there are other people out there on the same wave length.

    Keep on ridin’!


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