Last week's deadly terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge was "aided and abetted" by the bridge's paint-only cycleway, claims a shock-jock. LBC's Nick Ferrari is notoriously anti-cyclist but this morning's lengthy rant about London's cycleways is a new low. However, it comes after Lord Carlile also questioned the culpability of London's Cycle Superhighways in the attack, and such thinking has also caused Transport for London to postpone the construction of protected cycleways on the bridge, which were due to start next week.
From aerial photographs it's obvious that Khalid Masood was able to start his murderous 82-seconds of madness by accessing the bridge's footway via a paint-only bus lane next to which is a paint-only cycle lane. After the bridge Masood drove over the curbs of a protected cycleway to crash into parliamentary gates.
Ferrari also claimed that emergency services are now slower to react in London because of the curb-protected Cycle Superhighways. This is not the case – TV footage from the moments after Masood's attack showed police cars driving along the cycleways on the Embankment and by doing so avoiding congested motor traffic. Similarly, there are many YouTube videos showing how ambulances are now able to skirt around traffic jams by using the cycleways, with cyclists jumping out of the way to let emergency vehicles pass.
The kneejerk reactions to last Wednesday's attack – such as the cycleways-lead-to-terrorism silliness but also the Home Secretary saying she wants security services to have a backdoor into WhatsApp and other messaging services – have now been joined by more serious measures. Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, has said: “Works on and around Westminster Bridge ... to improve the area for cyclists and pedestrians" have been "temporarily postponed ... while we engage with a range of key stakeholders, including parliamentary estates.”
The addition of curbs to protect cyclists on the bridge was expected to have taken a year to carry out, with the roadworks causing delays. It's possible that comments such as those from Lord Carlile and Nick Ferrari will be used to cancel the works altogether.
Lord Carlile certainly suggested as much last Thursday: "We may have to look at the new traffic arrangements around Westminster, which have changed in the last few months and opened up a wide new cycle lane along which this vehicle travelled uninterrupted."
On Twitter, taxi drivers have welcomed Ferrari's comments, although many others have questioned the DJ's judgement.