Cyclist challenges Conservative MP to commute by bike

Cyclists in London
Image caption Transport for London said 14 cyclists had been killed on the capital's roads this year

A cyclist who was thrown off his bike twice in the space of three months has challenged a local MP to join him on part of his commute.

René Pritchard has been cycling from his home in Chiswick, west London, to his workplace in nearby Hammersmith for over 18 months.

During that time, he said he had been in two serious accidents.

The 38-year-old company director has now asked Ealing Central and Acton MP Angie Bray, whose constituency covers part of his route, to cycle with him.

He said he wanted her to put pressure on the police to enforce cycle lanes.

Image caption MP Angie Bray said she would be happy to give the challenge a go

Conservative Ms Bray said she would be "happy to give it a go" and ride through Bedford Park.

The MP almost lost her leg when a car drove into her when she was on the back of a motorbike in 1975, two months after she moved to London to go to university.

"I'm well aware of how dangerous it is being on two wheels in London's traffic," she said.

"I'd like to think there would be a day when that kind of thing doesn't happen any longer."

Ms Bray said she would be happy to contact the local borough commander and ask whether enough attention was being given to policing cycling lanes.

Transport for London said 14 cyclists had been killed on the capital's roads this year.

In November, a report by London Assembly's transport committee said the number of cycling casualties had risen by 50% between 2006 and 2011.

'Thrown into traffic'

Mr Pritchard said "one particular junction" seemed to keep posing a danger.

"I've had two accidents within 100 metres of this location," he said.

The first, in March, was at the junction between Goldhawk Road and Chiswick High Road while Mr Pritchard was waiting in the cyclist's space in front of a red light.

Image caption Both accidents happened near the junction between Goldhawk Road and Chiswick High Road

"A taxi driver tried to undertake me and used the left hand lane to try and go straight across the junction, " he said.

"He failed to see a double yellow line with cars parked on the other side of the junction."

The driver swerved to avoid a parked car, knocking Mr Pritchard off his bike.

"I was thrown into oncoming traffic, fortunately it was slowing down because of a red light," the cyclist said.

Mr Pritchard said the Metropolitan Police had said there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

The second accident, in May, happened on King Street when he was knocked off his bike by a 4x4 that turned in to the cycle lane to avoid a car turning right in front of it.

'Went flying'

"The car squeezed me into the kerb and I went flying, rolling down the pavement," Mr Pritchard said.

He said the driver stopped and gave him his business card.

The police took a statement, but wrote to him after two months saying that they had lost the documentation, the cyclist said.

"They asked me to fill in all the paperwork again and resubmit it," he added.

"Then they said 'we haven't got anything to proceed with the prosecution on'.

"As a cyclist, I'm very frustrated. I'm wearing a fluorescent jacket, I'm the father of two small girls on a folding bicycle.

"I ride in cycle lanes, but still, in the space of two years, I've had two accidents that could have been fatal and not a single one has been taken forward by the police.

"I appreciate there are some cyclists who go through red lights and weave in and out of traffic - that's not the kind of cyclist I am."

A spokesman from the London Cycling Campaign said: "Mr Pritchard has encountered problems that are well known to people who ride bikes in London, and that discourage most Londoners from choosing to ride a bike in the first place.

"Namely, he's encountered poor-quality infrastructure, which doesn't do enough to make our streets safe and inviting for cycling, and a lack of enforcement against bad driving, which makes sharing the roads with many drivers something of a lottery.

"These fundamental problems need to be addressed before London will become a truly cycle-friendly city."

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