Unprecedented and extraordinary cycle deaths leave London bewildered

 
Vigil for cyclist at Bow Roundabout Hundreds of people turned up at a vigil for Venera Minakhmetova, who was killed when she was struck by a lorry while cycling on Bow Roundabout

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Five cycling deaths in nine days is unprecedented and extraordinary and there is no doubt it has left many people in London bewildered.

All the deaths have involved large vehicles and that implies the vehicles' blind-spots may have been part of the cause.

On Wednesday hundreds of cyclists turned out at Bow Roundabout to demonstrate their anger.

Three cyclists have died there and there are now calls for cycle superhighway 2 to be suspended.

Regressive debate

There are demands from Southwark Council for a rush-hour HGV ban - that's the first time I've heard a local authority in London call for that.

What will also depress many is the debate seems to be shifting away from infrastructure and safety into which road users are worst offenders.

You can't help but feel that such a debate is regressive and takes us back 10 or 20 years.

All the authorities - motoring and cycling - that I've ever spoken to, think all road users should obey the laws of the road.

'Policy-lag'

However, many believe cyclists should not have to be next to large vehicles that can't see them and could kill them.

The politics of these events are also very interesting.

London Mayor Boris Johnson maintains statistically cycling is safer than it has ever been as there has been a huge surge in its popularity.

But he has got policy-lag. The new separate lane infrastructure he has promised is not yet in place and therefore not meeting the demand he has helped to create.

Cycle superhighway in Aldgate There are calls for the new extended cycle superhighway to be suspended

And remember his policy has shifted once already after his first term in office from non-segregated lanes to Dutch-style segregated lanes. The first of these opened last week in Stratford.

So it is very, very difficult for Mr Johnson to shift policy again (even if he wanted to) until the whole "cycling revolution" of quiet lanes and better junctions is delivered.

Policy shift

That will take some years and cyclists are impatient and very vocal.

I also detect a stiffening of the language by the mayor, the cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan and from within Transport for London.

The message today seems to be: We will help make the roads safer but cyclists have to abide by the laws of the road. Safety improvements can only do so much.

With infrastructure policy waiting to be delivered, it seems to me we are now getting a more robust approach from the mayor to cyclists.

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

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 187.

    Just as a matter of interest how many pedestrians are killed in London? they seem a voiceless group.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 186.

    Most London cyclists own cars and already pay Road Tax. When on their bikes they are taking the strain off public transport and the road infrastructure, whilst travelling in an environmentally sustainable way.So they should be paying less tax. Especially making a lifestyle choice which improves health and should also be less of a burden to the NHS, assuming that other road users don't injure them

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 185.

    Great idea on the Road Tax guys. Given that the charges are directly linked to CO2 emissions, why not set it up as a formality just so cyclists have to pay...nothing at all!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_Excise_Duty

    Road tax is informally a tax on pollution, roads get maintained and fixed with funds coming mainly from council tax. It seems cyclists pay that one.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 184.

    @167 Chris

    Reason why Cyclists should pay Road Tax - to pay for the millions of pounds spent giving them their own lanes aka User Pays.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 183.

    Cyclists should take responsibility for their own safety, instead of blaming everybody else when, due their thoughtlessness (going down the inside of HGVs turning left) and disregard for Traffic Law (jumping red lights at junctions) they put their own lives at risk. They should be made to pass a test, have insurance, pay road tax on their bicycles, and have number plates, like all other vehicles.

  • Comment number 182.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 181.

    Large Vehicles - blindspots may be a cause. A specious assumption. Police analysis of cyclist/truck accidents assigns in 40% as attributable to the cyclist, 40% as attributable to the truck, and 20% other.
    I'd expect a bit more analysis than speculation and hysteria from the BBC Reporter.

  • Comment number 180.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 179.

    In addition to what is mention here can we have a pedestrian test, as a cyclist and a driver people have walked out in front of me when there is a crossing nearby or using mobile phones and not even aware they are on the road. If I wasn't paying attention they would be dead. One walked out and put their hand up to tell me to stop when I was moving at 20 mph and they were only about 20 feet away.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 178.

    Stop blaming the victim. Five people have died and no suggestion has been made that they were disobeying the law at the time.

    Bikes and large vehicles don't mix. Bikes and speeding cars don't mix. If you do mix them then any collision between them & a bike is likely to be very bad for the cyclist.

    The solutions are clear, what is missing is the will to make it happen.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 177.

    Its now six London cycling deaths in 11 days after a cyclist was killed in Roehampton yesterday afternoon. Boris & Gilligan must build safer infrastructure now, not just go for for PR for them and Barclays from cycling which is now blowing up in their faces.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 176.

    Generally I do obey laws but like anyone on the road if it is SAFER to break the law I will do so. Example: the traffic around Parliament is lethal. If I see a safe gap in the traffic I will jump the red and cycle round in empty space. Traffic laws were designed for cars and not cyclists so don't expect cyclists to put their lives at risk by slavishly obeying them.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 175.

    Disappointing amount of comments on a serious issue.

    Shame

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 174.

    I witness growing levels of mutual contempt between bikes and other vehicles in london. Cyclists don't do themselves any favours when they jump red lights, but drivers seem to think that it's ok to use their cars trucks and vans to bully cyclists. The inevitable outcome: soft vehicles lose. I don't see this in france: drivers give bikes space, and bikes treat their fellow road users with respect.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 173.

    @ 167 Chris
    they do no harm that comes even close to the harm a motorists can do

    The Cyclists' Touring Club's own figures for 2010 show cycles accounted for about 1.9% of all urban, non-motorway vehicular traffic, but were involved in 1.1% of pedestrian fatalities and 1.5% of serious pedestrian casualties.
    Marginally better than motorists, but don't need insurance my a*se.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 172.

    As a pedestrian most cyclists I have encountered are fine, its more the motorists who accelerate to get through the light changing from amber to red and then go through on red - but thats ok? Try crossing outside Paddington station. As for the road tax debate, London is smog central, THERE IS NO ROAD TAX, its VED and linked to your emissions, the roads are paid for from taxation and council tax.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 171.

    There are many good cyclists in London, however the way some behave on the road is ridiculous, running Red lights, wrong side of keep left bollards, no lights.. We need to educate cyclists, does'nt everyone have to take a cycling test as I did. As for HGV's they're not always to blame,however with today's technology can't these vehicle have proximity sensors to warn them of vehicles close.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 170.

    As a cyclist I see appalling acts from cyclists and motorists everyday. The key is to educate and stop being selfish. The driver test must include a compulsory cycle round a city so drivers see what its like to be vulnerable. Cyclists obey the law. Don't jump red lights, stop being aggressive. If you are too unfit to stop and start at the traffic lights do some more exercise. EVERYONE PLEASE THINK

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 169.

    If you believe cyclists think they should obey the laws of the road, try being a pedestrian in the rush hour. I witness a dozen or more contraventions every time I walk to and from work. I've been knocked down twice, both times the cyclist was at fault (and both times the cyclist didn't stop, effectively a hit and run.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 168.

    Watching the way some cyclists behave in the The City - I'm surprised the number of deaths isn't higher. Just watch them in the rush hour at the north end of London Bridge and along Cannon St.
    Are there any statistics kept on the number of injuries to pedestrians run down by cyclists who ignore red lights at pedestrian crossings?

 

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