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 46.

    My dad was killed on a roundabout last yr. Lady prosecuted for careless driving. No helmet! I believe he would be here if he had been wearing a helmet. I met Ed Vaizey MP last wk re making it law. Mutual respect of cyclists and other vehicles is needed as Victoria Pendleton said last yr when Bradley Wiggins was knocked off. A road safety campaign is also required. Avoid danger spots, I do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    I'm a keen cyclist, and I also drive a truck through London. The answer has to be training for cyclists on the huge danger of undertaking a large vehicle. The gap on the left can close quickly, especially so at left turns (not just junctions). You can spend money on roads and more training for drivers, but all that doesn't make it easier to spot the cyclist whose crept up beside you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    i still think the best option is to just stop cycling and all cyclists should just jump on a train or tube or bus or tram yes its expensive but its safer i have never heard of a train accident before or tube maybe a bus or tram but not one that costs a life

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Shaunie I don't think it is is fair to tar cyclists with the same brush. However I agree that there are a lot of cyclists that don't abide by the Highway Code or cycle safely. I am a cycle trainer and try to drum into the kids to aware of EVERYTHING around them on the road. Most drivers don't want to kill a cyclist, but there are times when they don't pay full attention/aware of EVERYTHING.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    "you are safe on a bus"

    Maybe, but if you look at the fibres of a bus seat with a powerful magniying glass you'd start scratching.

    Don't be put off cycling. It's safer than you think and you'll be fitter, so you'll live longer than those chubby bus people. Argh, I'm feeling itchy just thinking about it. If you must get a bus then don't sit on those seats.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I commuted by bicycle for about a decade in Edinburgh and frankly, many cyclists need to rethink their habits. At roundabouts it was common for a cyclist to cut to the front, just alongside the front left wheel of the vehicle when the driver will be concentrating on traffic from the right. Cyclists MUST make allowances for blind spots and the fact that drivers can only look in one place at a time!

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    if getting a cycle was like getting a car theory tests and numerous other tests it would save a lot of accidents and worse deaths as they can learn the highway code and not be allowed out till the have passed the tests buses are on the up many buses are now 24-7 and a yearly pass is about 800 quid just 150 or so less then a bike and you are safe on a bus i have been for 28 years of my life

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    One thing we could do, as a temporary measure, is to remove the blue paint at dangerous junctions, which currently gives inexperienced cyclists a false sense of security.

    We can work on better cycle infrastructure later, but we need to get rid of that stupid blue line that's enticing new cyclists into danger at junctions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    If a motorcyclist is killed overtaking a lorry which is signalling right, is it

    a) Their own stupid fault ?

    b) Poorly designed motorcycling infrastructure ?

    c) Letting HGVs use the road ?

    d) HGV drivers not looking property ?

    If you answered a then you are a motorcyclist
    If you answered b,c,or d you are a cyclist

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    London's streets are narrow and we cannot change it. The limited road space that there is should be for means of transport which consume the least of it, i.e. people on buses, cyclists, pedestrians. It is time to implement a policy that protects the former and makes people understand that, barring exceptions, driving a car on London's roads comes close to anti-social behavior.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    carrying on from my earlier comment for cyclists stop trying to think you are an intercity train and thunder up the road if a car or bus cant do 50 in a 30 mph area nor can you you must respect the road or these deaths or injuries you have will be on the up it also don't help getting a bike is so cheap there's no tests you have to do and i could go on forever but it change much

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    I haven't seen any suggestion anywhere that any of the poor people who have been killed on bicycles in the last few weeks were, texting, wearing headphones, jumping red lights, riding on the pavement, endangering pedestrians, so can we leave all these irrelevant comments to one side?

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Wearing a helmet won't help much if an HGV hits you, but wearing a fluorescent jacket might stop you being hit in the first place. Best of all though, you need to develop a "sixth sense" - eyes in the back of your head. Keep your wits about you at all times, look around, look out the corner of your eyes, be aware of other vehicles and what they might be doing and that they might not have seen you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    The Highway Code tells cyclists not to ride on the inside of a vehicle which is indicating to turn left. If you need this pointing out to you, perhaps you shouldn't be let loose among trained road users.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    alex here from croydon i saw the croydon bus strike the bike nasty yes but there is a simple thing all cyclists can do and that's just wait at red lights or zebra crossings and follow the rules of the road how hard is that and if you run a red light expect a fine or break a rule and wear a helmet as well and stop texting on your phones while riding or there's a plan b stop cycling altogether

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I've noticed a huge increase in cyclists and a massive increase in tipper trucks and other hgv's. Some of the antics of cyclists beggars belief, some treating the roads as the tour de france, others on phones and using headphones. For all road users it's all about awareness but sadly many cyclists don't understand this. Blue paint in the road isn't the answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    #28 NH
    Just google the whole phrase, which takes you to the Guardian article, then scroll down the for the link to the government report in pdf format.

    The report was carried out by the DfT, and evaluated by the Transport Research Laboratory.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    If cyclists insist on repeating the phrase "vulnerable road users" on every occasion, perhaps they should act like they are and they'd have fewer accidents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    27. Transition_Town_Man
    A recent report..
    internet code for 'something i just pulled out of my a***'

    In each case reported in this article, the LGV driver arrived at the junction first, properly positioned their vehicle safely and subsequently a cyclist put themselves into a danger - due to lack of knowledge or experience - and paid a heavy price. As did the drivers. And thats the drivers fault?

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    A recent report, carried out by the Department for Transport, found that:

    "With adult cyclists, police found the driver solely responsible in about 60%-75% of all cases, and riders solely at fault 17%-25% of the time".

    So cyclists are at fault some of the time, but far often it is the driver that is solely to blame.

    All of us, both drivers and cyclists must slow down, and be much more careful.


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