The current Foreign minister of the United Kingdom, the conservative Boris Johnson, he spearheaded when he was mayor of London for a “revolution cyclist” is not very different to that Now Madrid is taking place in the capital of Spain, although much more ambitious and expensive. Cities such as Paris, Melbourne or Amsterdam, which also does not seem to need it much, they are immersed in projects of more than one hundred million euros in order to facilitate the use of the bicycle. To criticize than to encourage the use of bicycles in the big cities seems to place anyone outside of the discourse civilized. And yet, the case of London seems to assume a warning.
Johnson introduced a network of bike lanes, called “superhighway” and projected by his predecessor in some of the major and busiest avenues of London that were criticised for their insecurity, not being separated from other vehicles, but a line of paint. Over the years there have been introduced physical barriers to separate them with a cost of around 1,000 million pounds, which has led to eating even more ground to other means of transport. So, a few lanes underutilized are causing major traffic jams and delays.
“The most significant impact on the network during the last 12 months has been the construction of the superhighway cyclists from Transport for London (TfL),” said a report by the city council last year. “Although it is too soon to reach definitive conclusions, the observations suggest that the areas of greatest traffic jams are frequently found on the affected streets“.
The past winter witnessed record levels of pollution in London, with levels of suspended particulate matter PM2.5 higher than in Beijing. And even though the traffic was not the only culprit, nor the bike lanes, the only people responsible for the cars contaminated more than normal, some have not hesitated to relate them. “If the asphalt previously used by vehicles is underutilized by bikes, could result in major traffic jams and pollution?”, asked the labour mp Rob Flello last January. “The jams are incredibly correlated with the pollution. The vehicles stopped for the traffic they produce many more harmful emissions than those that circulate freely”.
In addition, the pollution affects especially… to themselves cyclists. According to a study by the London School of Medicine, breathe in the double of soot that those who walk because they “breathe more deeply and rapidly than pedestrians in the vicinity of the exits of smoke”. Hence, picking ideas of the chinese, the cyclists in london have begun to wear masks. There is certainly no conclusive evidence that bicycles have worsened the pollution problem, but it seems clear that you have not contributed to fix it.