So Boris' big idea of London cycle superhighways kick-starting a bicycle revolution has degenerated into a crap, bus-filled, lick of blue paint on the roads. A gimmick. But hang on a minute, Boris is a really keen cyclist is he not? I'm not his number one fan by any means, but on this I believe he really did have an ambitious vision. So why has it turned out so crap? Here's some conjecture for you:
One of the favourite obsessions of Brian 'Mr Toad' Coleman - a convicted speeder - is keeping the flow of cars moving at all costs. In fact, its this similarity with Kenneth Grahame's Mr Toad that probably earned him his nickname. For example:
- Against the wisdom of RoSPA, he's had road-humps systematically removed from Barnet's streets.
- Against the street's residents, he's re-opened the rat-run: Partingdale Lane.
- Against the best interests of the primary school children in New Barnet, he's had a road (Coleman's Bottom) built right over their school playing field.
- Against all reason, he's been appointed Barnet's Cabinet Member for the Environment saying (depressingly, predictably) "My priorities are roads, roads, roads and roads."
Now consider this. Boris Johnson's Conservatives hold just 11 of the 25 seats on the London Assembly so one assumes that Boris will want to keep those 11 as sweet as possible. Indeed, if one were to look at Boris' recent manipulation of the fire authority, one might think that Boris is keen to go to some lengths to keep Coleman sweet - and with his nose too busily planted in the trough to cause him any further trouble.
But would Boris "I'm-not-kidding-when-I-say-that-I'm-militant-about-cycling" Johnson be prepared to dramatically water down his pro-cycling aspirations - just to satisfy Mr Toads obsession - and thereby keep better control the slippery reins of power?
PS - For more on Mr Toad's record on road safety, I recommend Mark Pack's analysis.