A recent Eco-column reported that 62 per cent of car traffic in central London is cabs (mini +black).
A reader wrote in to rightly say that some disabled people use cabs due to their wheelchair friendly design. But it is crucial to note that London’s traffic including cabs are causing up to 9,000 premature deaths a year from pollution and an estimated 120,000 Londoners are living with disabling diseases from transport pollution and traffic caused inactivity diseases.
As well as helping Londoners avoid disabling diseases, cycling can help people already disabled, live healthier lives by cycling themselves.
Southwark is lucky to have an amazing charity called Wheels for Wellbeing, who run cycling events for people with all kinds of disabilities and all ages, every Monday morning at Herne Hill Velodrome. Check out website wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk.
They have London’s largest collection of non-regular bicycles and tricycles, powered by legs or just hands, depending on your abilities. Even blind people can enjoy the exhilaration of the wind in their faces, by co-cycling with a partner on a tandem or tricycle.
Sessions are subsidised but a nominal fee for training and cycle hire costs of £5 is made. If you have access issues getting to the velodrome, you can contact them for help.
Cycling is a blessing for elderly people trying to get around with disabling painful arthritic joints, as it takes the pressure off them, whilst walking to the shops can be very painful.
Disabled and elderly people cycling are a common heart-warming sight in Holland where local authorities have for decades invested serious amounts of money in protected cycle lanes.
The London Mayor has just built our first short protected modern cycle-lane in Southwark, along TfL’s Blackfriars Road. Southwark Council which controls over 94% of roads in the Borough, has refused to build a single meter of protected cycle lane in the last 6 years on their roads. 7% of disabled Londoners already occasionally cycle. Wheels for Wellbeing are helping more to do so.
Our disabled and elderly have a human right to cycle free from fear of being crushed on our streets. It is high time Southwark helped them do so also.
Donnachadh McCarthy has been an environmental campaigner in Southwark since 1992 and is author of “The Prostitute State – How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought” www.theprostitutestate.co.uk . He is also an independent environmental consultant www.3acorns.co.uk @DonnachadhMc.