Trying to make sense of the spate of cycling deaths

Police at the scene of the Bow roundabout fatal accident The London of cyclists in London has increased massively

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It is very hard to make sense of what has happened with London and cycling in the past eight days.

Four cyclists have died over that time period which probably makes it one of the worst periods for cycling deaths in the capital.

Even the most ardent of campaigners are showing slight signs of helplessness.

Today's death at Bow roundabout is at a collision black spot.

'Death trap'

One local, who was visibly angry, apprehended me and described it as a "death trap". He's banned his children from using it.

As I've reported previously, two cyclists have died there and concerns have been raised on a number of occasions by campaigners.

The coroner at the inquest into those deaths said the cycle superhighway 2 at the roundabout was "confusing".

Again there are calls for London Mayor Boris Johnson to sort out this junction.

Huge blind spots

The latest addition of early start lights - that give cyclists a few seconds head start - have also been criticised.

Changes are coming but progress is taking time.

In these four deaths the constant is that they all involved large vehicles, either buses, coaches or HGVs.

What that means is the vehicles have huge blind spots and can't see cyclists down the kerb side.

Bow Roundabout The four deaths all involve large vehicles

We do not know the details of these cases but that is always a problem if a large vehicle turns left.

The solution, say campaigners and City Hall, is to build segregated junctions but that will take time.

And the number of cyclists has increased massively, the infrastructure is lagging behind the need and these deaths will only increase the clamour for amore rapid change.

Transport for London and City Hall have also tried to clamp down on dodgy HGVs with some success but I'm sure there will be more calls now to ban large vehicles in rush hour.

The reality is it will probably take a lot of different measures to have an impact.

New infrastructure, more cycling training, more driver training and perhaps restrictions on HGV times are all needed.

Tom Edwards Article written by Tom Edwards Tom Edwards Transport correspondent, London

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  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    To drive a bus or lorry you need to pass an advanced driving test. One that pays particular attention to the problems with blind spots at left turns (if you touch the kerb on the test it's an automatic fail)
    To ride a bike you just need the money to buy or rent one.

    It isn't rocket science to work out whats happening here. if you have to ride a bike DONT go up the left of a truck. you WILL die

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    @ 17.Stretch: Haha very true, but at least blame would be easier to apportion!
    @19.cylcing commuter: True, but still less of a scrum than on the roundabout itself + the cyclist would have definite right of way and be much more visible to those turning left to the roundabout. So a better option in my opinion.
    @7.jamie: How ridiculous to suggest that is has become accepatble to kill cyclists!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Most accidents involving cyclists and other road users (motorists, pedestrians, other cyclists) are the result of minor infractions. Why not have an 8 week clamp-down with an intensive programme of spot fines for anyone, including cyclists, breaking minor laws.

    And don't allow HGVs in London without mirrors which allow the drivers to see everything on their left.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    You are probably correct if bikes were a new invention they wouldn't be allowed to share the road.
    So seeing as bikes were there first how about we ban cars?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    The the end of the day, it has been decided that cycling should be encouraged. If dumbo Boris wants to create cycling infrastructure DO IT PROPERLY. Create the conditions for safer cycling in London not some idiot half way house bit of blue paint which it seems is causing deaths.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Very sad.

    If the bicycle were a new invention, like the Segway, it would not be allowed to mingle with the lorries, buses and cars on the busy roads of our cities. It is just too dangerous, and very unfair to drivers to have to have unprotected people wandering around them on the roads.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Hating all cyclists just because some break the law is as silly as hating all drivers because some break the law.

    I look at it this way - every cyclist means one less car in front of me, and one more parking space available to me. And, for the first time since the 40s, cycle sales are exceeding car sales, so we should all see this as a good thing for drivers, not a bad thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Going up the Bow Flyover westwards means you have to cross the line of traffic taking the rouindabout - and they go fast!

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    After sitting in an HGV cab at a police road safety awareness event for cyclists it is scary at just how many blind spots these vehicles have. I now never go down the left hand side of any lorry, bus etc at traffic lights unless I have seen the lights change and I know that I can well in front and can be seen. Your life isn't worth taking the risk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    When has being banned from using a road ever stopped a cyclist from using it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Tom, maybe the BBC themselves could improve things by refraining from continuously reporting cyclists as colliding with, or crashing into, vehicles, when most (but not all) of these incidents are as a result of driver error.

    Until the true facts are known, it might be more appropriate, more respectful, and certainly less sensationalist, if a more neutral phrase was used.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Perhaps if there were an assumption that the driving obviously was dangerous if someone dies and more prosecutions pursued, then drivers might take more care. I was hit from behind, in broad daylight, wearing hi vis clothing, when stationary at a give line. The driver was 'advised' not even cautioned, let alone taken to court. A second or two difference in timing and I would have been dead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Regarding the Bow roundabout specifically, I live nearby and use it almost everyday. The simplest, safest and easiest solution would be to ban cyclists from using it (fine those that do) and re-route the bike superhighway over the fly-over as cyclists don't need to use the A12 so there is no need for them to use it anyway. It would also ease the traffic nightmare that is the roundabout...job done!

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    car users are not angry at cyclists because they may injure themelves - they are angry because are able to do what car drivers cannot (without hurting anyone). Is this a reason for the anger and hurt that so many of us have suffered?? How many car drivers have had their cars and themelves injured by cyclists whilst driving? is it really true that percieved arrogance is worthy of death?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I cycle from East to West London and I go past 3 of the recent 4 deaths blackspots. This past week has made me think seriously about continuing to cycle. In the past month I've been hit twice, by a car and when a pedestrian walked into me.Both left me injured. Neither were reported as the police do nothing with minor incidents.
    Roads are getting more crowded. I dont know what the answer is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I train hgv/psv drivers in london on how to deal with cyclists. Who is training the cyclists on how to deal with hgv/psvs?
    Until cyclists recognise that you need to be trained to use the roads this will continue.
    May be the beeb could conduct a survey on cyclist road knowledge? Id bet the results would make pretty poor reading

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I'm a cyclist and a driver and I think the main issue in general is the attitude of cyclists on the road. They really need to take more responsibility for their own cycling and safety and how it impacts other road users. There are far too many who have no real road sense or push the boundaries thinking they are impervious. If/when it goes wrong they are never going to be on the winning side...

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    As a cyclist in the uk the only way was to treat other road users as if they were out to kill you. Im in no doubt that in some cases they were.
    To say that cyclists must obey the law - the law designed for cars - often is very dangerous - be at the back of a queue of cars at a traffic lights and you risk being in the wrong place with traffic coming at you from another direction or worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Are we sure that the cyclists are all following the rules of the road?

    How many times do they put themselves at risk buy continuing to cycle past a vehicle that is clearly signalling to maneuver, cycled through a red light, or along a pavement?

    About time that the Met followed Police Scotland and ticketed them for breaches - then they may get more respect by others (the respect they want back!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    There are two parts to this problem. the first is that the feeder lanes for the cycle boxes actively encourage cyclists to ride down the inside of lanes of traffic
    the second is that it has become acceptable to injure or kill cyclists with little deterrent from the police
    Cycling infrastructure needs to be designed properly
    hitting a cyclist cant keep being treated as a minor traffic incident.


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