Monthly Archives: May 2014

Dear John

Dear John,

By the time you read these lines, I’ll be gone.

I just can’t take your lies any more.

You have promised me so much over the years, and yet nothing changes.

You keep telling me that things are improving, but they never do.

You said that I’d be able to travel in safety. You promised that there would be direct ways for everyone to get from A to B, where anyone could feel safe.

But I can see now that it was all lies. You keep saying the right things, but never mean them. All I ever get is platitudes.

It would be easy to blame one specific person for the problems, but the truth is that many have contributed to them over a long period of time. (PDF)

When I was first old enough to vote, John Prescott made bold promises about cycling and public transport, which were broken beyond recognition.

A few years later, Cycling England promised “more people cycling, more safely, more often” but quickly became yet another proponent of personal liability and poor quality, dangerous attempts at infrastructure.

More recently, you gave me Boris Johnson, the cycling Mayor of London, a man who breaks his promises more often than he breaks wind.

I believed him at first, too. “Assert yourself,” he told me, so I did. It ended in aggravation and grief every time. Soon I was cowed into going the long way round, or more often not taking the bike at all, just to avoid trouble.

After six years in charge of the nation’s capital city, we’ve been given nothing but tiny specks of rubbish. His latest grand cycling project is to put some signs on some back streets.

There have been inquiries, reports, and debates ad nauseum, all for nothing. Even the Prime Minister made the right noises, briefly, before going back to business as usual.

You told me that I was exactly the type of person you want – someone who rides a bike to get around in a casual fashion, in normal clothes. But while I tried my best to do that, it’s clear to see why so many feel the need to dress for war.

So you’ve lost two people who are exactly the type you claim you want to keep. You failed us.

The cracks really started to show once I’d met some friends who showed me just what was possible. I had no idea how good things could be!

But back in Britain nothing was changing. It was the same old rubbish, time after time. Huge motoring projects continue to be given the green light, while cycling and walking wait at a toucan crossing.

So I’ve left you. Life is too short to spend banging my head against a brick wall.

I’m sure you won’t miss me – you probably won’t even notice I’ve gone.

Farewell,
S.C.

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