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 206.

    I commute by bike in Manchester. I mostly feel safe, but had a recent near miss when a lorry turned right out of a side road into my path. How could the driver not see me, with my bright flashing light and fluorescent jacket? Luckily I had room to evade.

    I offer three rules for all road users:
    1. Always be courteous
    2. Give way to the more vulnerable
    3. Assume everyone else is an idiot

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    Perhaps it would be cheaper to fit lorries and coaches with electronic devices to detect cyclists alongside them, which would alert the driver.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    #203 - You only have to look at the statistics for deaths and injuries to pedestrians by cyclists against the statistics for deaths and injuries to pedestrians by motorists to realise you've got the relative danger of these two modes of transports to yourself completely wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    Walking from Charing Cross to Cambridge Circus saw three cases of cyclists crossing on red. In two instances pedestrians , one with a child, crossing on the green man had to move quickly out of the way to avoid them. Im not a driver , have never been threatened by a driver jumping red lights , but with this morons on two wheels , well thats a different matter

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    the average price for a cycle is about 800-900 for a good one out of halfords for that price i can get a 2nd hand car for that price yer its no ferrari or lambo but it is safer with buses on the up stop worrying over pollution we have a world for our kids of the future its what we have now its not going to explode is it our world

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    Let's all remember that cyclists help reduce pollution, and with London's air quality being above EU safety guidelines already, that's important to us all. They also cut congestion, so you'll get to work easier in your car, and they are most unlikely to kill your children on the way to school. before we all knock cyclists in general, they are vulnerable, and they are doing a good deed for cities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    The collision between an HGV and a cyclist at Bow roundabout on the 'superhighway' 2 years ago has had it's inquest. Both cyclist and driver ran a red light. The driver?- six month suspended sentence. The cyclist?- dead. That's the dilemma, there are reckless drivers and cyclists (and pedestrians) as much as careful ones, but if people wish to cycle/walk to work aren't they entitled to be safe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    The new TFL warning stickers appearing on the backs of vehicles seem to make the problem worse as drivers feel devoid of any responsibility. Drivers need to open their eyes and look before they manouvre. If their child was playing there they would.

    193. mal5150
    I don't see the issue with cars being slowed down. A cyclist has the same right to be on the road, leave earlier if its a problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    As a cyclist, I have never jumped a red light, gone the wrong way down a one way street.... In short, I have never broken the rules yet I see drivers of vehicles eager to get past me and other cyclists, some trying to squeeze into small gaps and having to move over forcing me to swerve. The problem is with cars, vans, lorries and buses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    196 BenOS
    Cyclist always go the wrong way on one way roads and I watch them on their mobile phones or so lost in there earphones that they don't look at the surrounding area.
    How can I be responsible when I am on the public transport... you sound like a typical cyclist... your're blaming everyone else. Yes there are drives that break the law...but in London most cyclist don't care about the law

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    @185 Phil
    So you won't respect me because another cyclist broke the law?
    I was nearly hit last week by a driver going the wrong way up a one way street...while talking on her phone. Should I consider you responsible?

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    Let's stop the 'blame looney cyclists' bit, at least until these poor bereaved families have had time to grieve? Many seem happy to comment before knowing the facts of each tragic case, perhaps to get a grievance with some or other road user 'off our chest'. If you'd just lost a loved one, would you want to read comments almost justifying their death by stating cyclists themselves are to blame?

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    cyclists what does red light mean it means stop its not safe to go so if you see a red light on a level crossing are you going to zig zag around the barrier and run straight through onto an on coming train (i hope you all say no)

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    Your obviously not driven round a smaller town - in Dundee the car/motorbike is quicker than a bike. It's just the looney cyclist that tries to jump the queue after you have got past them. I can get from my house to the other side of Dundee in 20mins in the morning (approx. 9 miles)-love to see a push bike do that.Therefore they do slow you up and your argument is flawed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    Physical separation of cycle and motor traffic is the best solution. I grew up in Stevenage where the design of separate cycle paths was deemed a good idea over 60 years ago. I do realise that the London road network cannot be re-designed but I believe that some roads could be designated cycle use only without adversely affecting the ability for all road users to get around as needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    dont want to see any1 dying on the roads, but cyclist's need to be responsible for there safety to , too many just jump on there bikes and expects every one else to look out for them, cause some are truly nutters with no road sense whatsoever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    Just this morning I narrowly escaped what could have been a fatal accident on my bike. I was ahead of a taxi, going straight. He was behind me and wanted to turn left....he tried to over take me and turned left into me. I am by no means saying cyclists are never at fault as I know they can be reckless, but today proves it is not just the cyclist, but drivers as well that need to be more careful

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Nigel (#187), Phil (#185): it's the almost total absence of enforcement that contributes to the conduct of some drivers on the road. I never run red lights, yet i see drivers do so every day. And do drivers never break speed limits? (a far more serious crime).

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    Left turning large vehicles are the main reason for these fatalities, Holland provides designated traffic lights at large roundabouts with separated cycle lanes running in both directions, clockwise and anticlock wise, with cyclists having priority, they have been doing this for 20yrs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    As alluded to in my previous comment, it is the almost total absence of regulation that contributes to the conduct of some cyclists on the road. I'm by no means a fan of Boris but he is right when he says that you cannot engineer to prevent reckless road use. There is already an excellent piece of engineering designed to minimise collisons. It's called a traffic light.


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