What cyclists can learn from the 5 recent incidents on London’s roads

Accident

Recent headlines have sent a shock through the cycling community. Five cyclists killed in nine days, bringing the death toll this year to 13. Unmentioned, are the hundreds of cyclists to suffer severe injuries.

The Save Our Cyclists petition, as well as a flash ride spearheaded by the LCC and planned Stop the killing die-in event at TfL’s headquarters reflect the sense of urgency felt by the people who ride bikes in London.

The reality for London’s cyclists is that things are not much safer today, than they were ten years ago.

Aside from driving instead of cycling, wearing a helmet, lobbying our representatives and marking off on a calendar the number of days before TfL and the Mayor deliver on their promised improvements, what can cyclists do to stay safe on their next commute?

To answer the question, it’s worth taking a look at what limited information is available on the five recent incidents:

  • 9th cyclist to die: Brian Holt: Hit by a lorry on Mile End Road, part of Cycle Superhighway 2
  • 10th cyclist to die: Francis Golding: Hit by coach, junction at Vernon Place and Southampton Row
  • 11th cyclist to die: Roger De Klerk: Hit by the 410 bus. Cherry Orchard Road and Addiscombe Road (East Croydon).
  • 12th cyclist to die: Venera Minakhmetova: Hit by Heavy Goods Vehicle. Bow Road Roundabout E3 along Cycle Superhighway 2.
  • 13th cyclist to die: Unidentified man: Hit by 205 bus. Whitechapel High Street, junction with Commercial Road. Along Cycle Superhighway 2

Quotes from witnesses

“I turned the corner and saw the bus go over the cyclist, I’ve never seen anything like it” Croydon Advertiser

“A woman, who looked like the driver of the bus, got out of the bus. She looked in total shock, really panicked.” Croydon Advertiser

“Must have broken every bone in his body”

“He was hit from behind by the truck”

“The lorry was behind the cyclist and sort of went into the back of him. He hit the cyclist who went under the lorry which just ran over and crushed him.” 

“Both the cyclist and the coach… are thought to have been turning left towards Euston.” Evening Standard

Avoiding “killing machines”

All five incidents have involved large vehicles that have blind spots. When pedalling around London, warning signals should be going off the minute you see a heavy goods vehicle.

Drivers of these vehicles can’t see cyclists. The shock expressed by drivers, and the common phrase “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you” all reflect how dangerous these vehicles are.

When you spot such a vehicle, it’s worth staying behind, or far in front. Don’t attempt to overtake on the inside. If the lights change, the driver will not see you.

In one of the cases, a witness mentioned that the cyclist was hit from behind by the lorry driver. The blind spots extend not just to the side, but also directly in front.

Readers of this blog are hopefully by now well aware of this. Unfortunately, the vast majority of cyclists out there are not. Therefore, whilst the Mayor may point the finger at cyclists and say “you shouldn’t be in that dangerous position” it’s a worthless statement, as people simply don’t know about the dangers.

Instead, the Mayor should be discussing his vision for creating a road network that protects all its road users.

Cycle Superhighways do not offer safety

Three of the past five cyclist deaths on London’s roads have been along Cycle Superhighway number 2. The Mayor and TfL have recognised the flaws in the Cycle Superhighways and plans are in place to make improvements. In the mean time, people are being killed.

The danger of the Cycle Superhighways is that they offer a false sense of security. Whilst some are better than others, they are putting cyclists in dangerous positions, particularly at junctions.

What to do if you are worried about cycling in London

The single greatest course of action you can take today is to find your nearest cycle training course and book an appointment. The hands on experience you’ll get from the one on one tuition, could save your life.

I hope that one day, I’ll never have to write an article like this one again. Until then, as cyclists we can take steps to improve our safety, whilst lobbying, protesting and doing everything in our power to make conditions safer for everyone who wants to cycle.

See also:

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

80 Responses to What cyclists can learn from the 5 recent incidents on London’s roads

  1. Tom Wragg 18/11/2013 at 11:13 am #

    Best piece I’ve read on the recent horrors.
    Great advice.
    Thanks.

    • Andreas 18/11/2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Thank you Tom – I appreciate that. I wasn’t sure what feedback this article would receive but I’m pleased it was useful to you. I welcome all other comments.

      • Junie 22/12/2013 at 12:01 pm #

        Very good article…..thank you! When I see any heavy goods vehicles or buses I stay well away because I know they cannot see me. I took cycle awareness course through my local council which is FREE. I trained for about 9 months until I was confident. I was also allowed to sit in one of these lorries just to experience what the drivers could see….and honestly they do not see cyclist. I was shocked and scared and LEARNT how to be safe on the roads. I honestly would advise every cyclist to take these courses before they cycle because they are FREE through your local council and the awareness saves lives and makes cycling more enjoyable.

        Pls cyclist be aware and be safe.

    • Filippo 22/11/2013 at 10:24 am #

      I second the above statement!

      • bob 22/11/2013 at 1:05 pm #

        +1

  2. Steve A 18/11/2013 at 1:25 pm #

    The mayor ought to know better than to blame the victims. Your readers should know better than to become candidates to become victims. I hope I said that right.

    • Andreas 18/11/2013 at 5:24 pm #

      Agreed. Worth quoting here:
      Statistics from the Department for Transport and Transport for London (TfL), among others, show that lawbreaking by cyclists is very rarely to blame for serious accidents. TfL figures showed cyclists breaking the law was identified as a factor in just 6% of cases where a rider was killed or badly hurt.

      Source: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/18/sixth-london-cyclist-killed-camberwell-lorry

    • George 18/11/2013 at 10:51 pm #

      Where exactly did the mayor blame just the cyclists? I think he pointed out that all drivers, pedestrians and cyclists needed to be more aware didn’t he?

      • humancyclist 19/11/2013 at 8:59 pm #

        It’s a bit insensitive to come out with the first part of the quote below considering none of the details of the deaths are known or have been to court. He does actually say you can’t blame the victim too.

        Boris Johnson:
        “Some of the cases that we’ve seen in the last few days really make your heart bleed because you can see that people have taken decisions that really did put their lives in danger.

        “You cannot blame the victim in these circumstances. But what you can say is that when people make decisions on the road that are very risky – jumping red lights, moving across fast-moving traffic in a way that is completely unexpected and without looking to see what traffic is doing – it’s very difficult for the traffic engineers to second-guess that.”

        • Alehouse Rock 21/12/2013 at 9:23 pm #

          [[[[[[ HUMAN CYCLIST—-see that last paragraph you’ve quoted? It may just as easily be ascribed to DRIVERS—–they do that stuff too, don’t they? Maybe BJ should do more and pontificate less.
          A.R.

  3. Dimitris 18/11/2013 at 1:29 pm #

    To fellow cyclists: sitting in the driver’s seat of a lorry in a cycling event really gives you a perspective:

    It is very, very scary.

    A true eye-opener, as there are blind spots, and with the best care and alertness of the lorry driver, they just will not be able to see you.

    If you get the opportunity get in the lorry driver’s seat. Then you will practise Andreas’s advice religiously: well in front or well back.

    Best Regards
    Dimitris

    • christina 25/11/2013 at 4:15 am #

      I think that all Lorry/hgv/taxi/car drivers should do a couple of hours on a bike as well, so they know/understand what it is like on the other side. What it really feels like to be passed by a lorry/taxi with only inches to spare.
      I think it is also sad that one solution that keeps on cropping up, is don’t cycle. Talk about way of, well might as well give up?? What kind of mentality is that?

      No, education and understanding between all is the way forward. Have cyclists sit in lorries and lorry drivers sit on bikes is certainly a good start!

      All we cyclists are trying to do really is get from a to b, get home safe, get to work in one piece, visit family and friends without new injuries and without dying.

      • Steve 25/11/2013 at 5:08 pm #

        I’m a cyclist. I did the RideLondon100 this year in 5:13. I also cycle to work nearly every day. At work I get into an 18 ton truck. I’m always very careful with cyclists as I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end. Unfortunately, there are a large proportion of cyclists who don’t seem to care about their own safety, sometimes it seems just to make a point.

        There are probably an equal proportion of idiot truck driver but please don’t undertake trucks. We can’t see you (we might not even feel it when you go under a wheel) and it’s just not worth it.

  4. Alex 18/11/2013 at 1:53 pm #

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-24989985
    Make it 14.

  5. Nick 18/11/2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Are there any stats on whether these deaths have been experienced cyclists or novices?

    Obviously we want all cyclists on the roads regardless of experience, but we need to look at what kind of cyclist is getting killed.

    It appears to be all hobby cyclists who really haven’t thought about the safety implications of riding on busy roads. Everytime I cycle I think back to my defensive driving course I did when I was 17, I spend my cycle looking around for any and all hazards and ask myself questions. See a kid on a footpath… does he have a ball? See a road cone… is there going to be slamming of breaks as cars realise there is works? Bus up ahead…. is he going to stop? Are passengers going to walk across the road straight away?

    I feel like there are too many cyclists who just think people know they are there. When on a bike your safety is your own responsibility, noone elses.

    • Andreas 18/11/2013 at 5:27 pm #

      I don’t think we can comment on this factor as it is unknown (and would also be hard to measure who is experienced and inexperienced as it would be subjective). In at least a couple of the reports it’s mentioned that they are experienced cyclists. As you mention at the start of your comment here Nick, it shouldn’t matter, we need to be designing our roads for all levels of cyclists, not just those we consider experienced.

    • denvejc 19/11/2013 at 11:55 am #

      I totally agree with Nick. I ride london roads every day and I drive sometimes I also have a motorcycle licence. The reason i stay safe is that I look for danger from all road users who continue to do the most stupid of things in their choice of transport. Having said that I feel much safer on the roads than I do on the cycle lanes I use because of pedestrians ignarence of how to use them properly.
      Super cycle highways and blue paint can only do so much. Train and educate like the Cbt would be a good starting point.

      • WatchBehindIt 20/12/2013 at 11:16 pm #

        I agree roads are safer than dedicated cycling paths because of rogue cyclists and pedestrians (they will never respect cyclists on a cycle-only path – I have given up hope).

        Super High-ways would be OK if
        – The paint was less slippery
        – Motorists would be banned by law to put a single wheel on them (except for crossing, with absolute priority for cyclists)
        – The way the blue lanes are designed at present is dangerous as they attract motorists – they block Super High-Ways on purpose, many of them because they hate cyclists. At the moment, they are just a dangerous publicity stunt.

  6. Geoff 18/11/2013 at 3:56 pm #

    While not wanting to comment about the cycling experience of those killed, I agree with Nick in that I too am constantly looking for potential hazards when out cycling. I also refuse point blank to squeeze down the inside of buses and lorries, even when stationary, and because of this I’m often asked to move over by other impatient cyclists who can’t wait the few seconds until the lights change or the traffic queue starts to move again. I take responsibility for my own safety while cycling and make every effort to be seen and not put myself in any position in which I might be at risk, but I’m constantly amazed by the reckless antics of some cyclists who seem at times to take no heed of their own vulnerability.

    • Mike 18/11/2013 at 7:28 pm #

      Good for you, Geoff! Were I still a cyclist (& I was one of those impatient idiots in my youth), I think my response would be “You can go up the pavement, but that’s illegal; you can go up the middle, but that’s dangerous; you can obey the rules of the road cos they apply to you as well, and that’s what I’m doing!” and then smile sweetly & laugh when they throw a strop. No, I’m not a very nice person… ;)

  7. Cas Burke 18/11/2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Sadly, yet another fatality today. My condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones due to the apathy of our mayor
    As much as I’m loathe to say it; I think it’s about time to introduce a mandatory proficiency course for all cyclists.
    Since Boris isn’t going to do anything to stop this slaughter, we need to ensure that all cyclists are informed enough to stay safe.
    Not a day goes by when I don’t wince at the suicidal behaviour of some cyclists just to shave an extra minute off their journey time.
    As someone who has experience driving HGV’s and buses, I can vouch for the difficulty in trying to watch out for multiple hazards, particularly in a vehicle with negative swing.
    We can keep harping on about driver responsibility, but in the name of self preservation, we have to instill a sense of personal responsibility into every rider. And I can’t see any other way but to bring in some sort of test.
    Yes, I want to see a proper cycling infrastructure. And yes I want to see greater driver responsibility. But while we’re waiting for that seachange, how many more have to die?
    Sorry if I’m ranting, but I’m angry. Angry at our lacklustre mayor, angry at our pathetic MP’s, and angry because the next death could be mine.
    I think we all need to get angry at what is happening on our roads.

    17.00 Friday 29/11 at TfL HQ, 197 Blackfriars Rd. Die-in and vigil.
    Hope to see you there.

    • Andreas 18/11/2013 at 5:30 pm #

      Well said Cas – hope the die in is well attended.

    • Skippy 18/11/2013 at 8:15 pm #

      Sad to see that there is a 14th Family suffering LOSS tonight !

      Safety Equipment did not help this Cyclist :

      http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/18/sixth-london-cyclist-killed-camberwell-lorry?

      Mr Plod & co with this action :

      http://www.lbc.co.uk/police-catching-cyclists-who-break-the-law-81518

      This article highlighted MANY pertinent facts , including :

      ” 6% of Cyclist Deaths due to ” lawbreaking ” CYCLISTS ! FACT ! So why stop them demanding Hi Vis & Helmets ?

      VICTIM BLAMING AGAIN !

      LOndon is NOT Copenhagen , nor is it a Dutch City , it was built for ROMAN Chariots ! It remains to be seen if Boris is aware that his tirade last week , did more than belittle himself ?

      The lack of response to this :

      https://www.change.org/de/Petitionen/ioc-chairman-thomas-bach-create-an-international-umbrella-cycling-safety-organisation

      confirms that Cyclists are NOT INTERESTED in seeing their situation improved !

      The petition is NOT ASKING FOR MONEY !

      It is asking for 30secs to tell the AUTHORITIES that there is a WORLDWIDE Phenomena called ” Cyclists “!

      NO MATTER where you go in the English Speaking World , thedre is a need for ” Strict Liability and 1 1/2M Safe Pass Laws , much like that , that is ALREADY in Operation on the European continent , starting as close as Calais !

      3 broken helmets , in 3 different types of situations , this year demonstrates their need ! Bright Cycling Lycra certainly tells my neighbours i want to be seen , yet in Parrabuddy.blogspot and others , i continually point to the SMIDSY and just plain Stupidity of those hanging onto their steering wheel !

  8. Jon H 18/11/2013 at 5:20 pm #

    Cycling and also motor cycling on the streets of any large city are THE most dangerous things you can possibly do. If you don’t know what you are doing then don’t do it. Simple. Good advice, but my advice would simply be don’t do it!

    • Andreas 18/11/2013 at 5:29 pm #

      Perhaps John, but I think it’s unhelpful to tell people not to cycle. We could just as easily say, don’t walk in London, it’s too dangerous. In the past two weeks I believe two pedestrians have been killed also.

      • Mark Townend 20/11/2013 at 4:09 pm #

        In the heady days of post war motorisation I think some radical planners really did dream of an end to traditional streetscapes, shared by vehicles of all shapes and sizes together with pedestrians. Many developments of the period featured total segregation of moving motor traffic and people on foot, although usually with scant consideration for the deeply unfashionable cyclist of the time. Their dreams of wholesale remodelling of our cityscapes failed probably because most ordinary people actually preferred the convenient, familar human-scale streets and buildings whilst some of the new projects were very poorly designed and constructed. What this means for cycling safety is that the traditional shared street is here to stay for the foreseeable future especially in old cities like London. Separating traffic into dedicated lanes should be easier today with less private motor traffic, deterred by schemes such as congestion charging, yet this is still deeply unpopular with radical motoristas, witness the idiotic abolition of all bus lanes in Liverpool recently for a 9 month trial. I think the future lies in vehicle sensors, technology that is racing ahead associated with adaptive cruise control, automated parking and eventually fully autonomous driving. The problem is the age profile of the general vehicle fleet. Even if all round proximity sensors were mandated on new cars tomorrow it would take 20 years for the vast majority to become so equipped. A good start however could be on commercial vehicles, particularly city buses and HGVs. Don’t ban or overly restrict the cyclist or pedestrian, lets use technology to help protect them.

  9. Eoin Bairéad 18/11/2013 at 5:49 pm #

    May one ask, please, how many of these unfortunate cyclists were wearing helmets? There is a belief that a bicycle helmet offers some sort of protection if one is struck by a vehicle. Quite simply, it doesn’t.

    • Simon 19/11/2013 at 9:06 am #

      Of course they offer some level of protection. If you are knocked off your bike by a car then your head will be more protected by wearing a helmet than if you weren’t. Of course they’re not likely to help when crushed by a large vehicle but to say they offer no protection is wrong and dangerous.

    • humancyclist 19/11/2013 at 9:01 pm #

      It will be interesting to see the details of these cases, whatever the outcome may be. It will serve as an education to both cyclists and drivers.

    • David Bates 22/11/2013 at 1:17 pm #

      I was struck by a vehicle 3 years ago and my helmet certainly offered me some sort of protection when my head bounced off the car as I was going down. It would have offered me no protection if I’d gone under the wheels of a bus or an HGV. Of course the helmet didn’t stop my elbow from being shattered.

    • Alehouse Rock 21/12/2013 at 2:22 am #

      [[[[[ Eoin Bairead—-yes, cycling helmets will stand up to a bump or a scrape, but not a severe impact, or any degree of crushing, and they won’t protect your body at all.

      And Boris Johnson does appear to be implying that all the cyclists recently killed in collisions with motor vehicles were in some way riding recklessly, and therefore contributed to their own downfalls. Does he know something we don’t?
      A.R.

  10. Mike 18/11/2013 at 7:23 pm #

    “Therefore, whilst the Mayor may point the finger at cyclists and say “you shouldn’t be in that dangerous position” it’s a worthless statement, as people simply don’t know about the dangers.”

    Juxtaposed with

    “The danger of the Cycle Superhighways is that they offer a false sense of security.”

    I realise that you’ve made the effort to avoid saying “It was the drivers’ fault, not the cyclists”, but what you’ve also said with those two statements is, first, that an awful lot of cyclists are ignorant (not stupid; ignorant – lacking knowledge); second that they’re as careless (on average) as every other bugger on the road (drivers, pedestrians, and everyone in between!).

    TfL can improve cycle superhighways, but will that stop cyclists from doing daft things on the road? No more than the driving test has ever stopped drivers from being idiots after they’ve passed their test. By your own tacit admission, cyclists need more education. I’m not suggesting compulsory licensing or insurance, but a driver of any class of vehicle does have to jump certain hurdles; anyone can get on a bike.

    Does there need to be some sort of compulsory education for cyclists? I’m no longer one; 20 years since I owned a pushbike; but I do remember (doing some extremely daft things; there but for the grace of the gods…) that, when I was at school for example, one wasn’t allowed to ride one’s bike to school unless one had passed a cycling proficiency test. The answer is no more clear cut than the fault. Drivers, TfL, cyclists; I can’t help feeling that ALL could do better!

  11. Spencer 18/11/2013 at 11:15 pm #

    I’m relatively new to cycling but hopefully am suitably cautious without being a danger at the same time. But it still shocks me the numbers of both cyclists, pedestrians and drivers who haven’t an ounce of common sense, self preservation or couldn’t care less about anyone other than themselves!
    Please; emerge from your self contained bubbles, think about others around you and try to contribute to society in a positive manner.

  12. Simon 19/11/2013 at 9:03 am #

    An excellent, unbiased piece on the dangers of cycling around large vehicles. Nice to read.

  13. Matt 19/11/2013 at 9:56 am #

    Interesting!

    I’m a cyclist, driver, and ride my pretty powerful motorbike through London daily (depending on the weather normally)

    I’ve been knocked off my bike fortunately not seriously hurt. Nearly been totalled several times on my motorbike, and driving is just plain irritating driving slowly and getting nowhere.

    I’m also a cop and have seen some awful sights and hate hearing of people getting hurt.

    But what I will say, and I’m not the ‘bad cop’ is that many many people put themselves in harms way. It infuriates me when I’m sat on my pedal bike when others fly through red lights. Then the poor driver knocks them off and suddenly he should have been more careful.

    I’ve seen a motorbike rider get t-boned by a driver not paying attention.

    If anyone breaks the rules of the road they should expect to either get injured or punished. To blame a Mayor for people getting hurt is barking up the wrong tree. We all need some personal responsibility to.

    I’m considerate and law abiding and I’ve done nothing personally that’s placed me in danger. Others don’t have the same standards. If I jumped a light I’d expect to be fined. Others moan when they get caught, whatever mode of transport they are using.

    Thoughts with those lost.

  14. Andy 19/11/2013 at 1:44 pm #

    Interesting article and it would be good to hear some rational ideas from Boris. His latest on banning headphone is a joke, what about motorists on mobile phone and those going into the ASL? When was the last time a motorist/motorcyclist received a fine for this?

    I won’t rant, but all users of the road should show respect for other users, whether a pedestrian crossing the road, a vehicle changing lane or a cyclist at a junction.

    Safe cycling to all and be vigilant.

  15. James Dickens 19/11/2013 at 2:13 pm #

    It’s very easy to blame the cyclists but it’s not a simple as that, nor is it as simple to blame the HGV/Bus drivers. We need to educate, but we also need to legislate. Separation isn’t the answer, we need to remind car drivers that they are in a ton of metal and cyclists have as much right to be on the road as them. We can co-exist, but we also need to teach cyclists to assume they are invisible and not to take stupid risks for the sake of a few seconds.

    We also really need to legislate on the amount of HGV’s in central London. The roads just aren’t built for it. We need to ban the largest lorries between 8am and 8pm similar to the way Paris does. We also need someone to manage roadworks much better. It’s no coincidence that people have been killed and injured in Camden this week but I haven’t heard of it before on this stretch. Going north there are roadworks at Centre Point, Tottenham court road, and Camden High street. Traffic is gridlocked which breeds frustration in drivers and they take risks. Who gave these roadworks the okay to happen concurrently? And why aren’t they working 24/7 to get them working again? I pass at 7ish and there is never anyone there.

    London isn’t fun to cycle in anymore and it’s fixable with a fraction of the high speed train money. Such a shame. Olympic legacy indeed….

  16. robert 19/11/2013 at 3:22 pm #

    The image used at the top of the post is from a recent incident in Camden Town. Just at the end of my road.

    That road creates a very dangerous junction because of it’s size – it’s so small people treat it as a small side road when if fact in suffers from heavy, moderate speed traffic. I would not blame someone for not expecting a HGV to turn into it.

    But the cyclist was on a hill at a traffic lights in the bus lane with a HGV on her immediate right. The HGV indicates while she’s in his blind spot and turns. She is on an incline causing a slow start meaning she can’t ride off in time and then an awful accident occurs.

    This was used in an article in the Evening standard critisisng the uselessness of Super Highway lane planning and confusing signs for drivers and cyclists etc but in this instance the cause was due to a cyclist undertaking a HGV on a regular road – which is the extent of most awareness campaigns on cycle safety…

    Not to say the other instances are justified in their critisism of Super Highways etc, but worth pointing out.

  17. john m 19/11/2013 at 6:12 pm #

    I am an owner of tipper lorries working in London everyday, I do not believe blaming lorries or cyclist is going to solve the very sad issue of cyclists being involved in these terrible accidents that have been happening all too often, I think more segregation is needed by upgrading the infrastructure, better signage at the cycle super highways and more education on both sides. For example there are days where cyclists are invited to sit in a truck to understand the problems with blind spots etc. Why are TFL not arranging these events at least once a month ? All my drivers attend a vulnerable road users course our vehicles are fitted with side guards, blind spot sensors, extra mirrors, stickers warning of dangers, audible warning when turning left, this should be industry standard in London and I should think the mayor could get a law passed asap to ensure this happens. I can understand the call for HGV’S to be banned during the day but the majority of building sites in London can only work between 8am-6pm due to noise/residents complaints so not sure how this would work, would buses be banned too ? Myself and many of my colleagues in our industry take this problem seriously and I do worry about it every day, we need to find a way to live together on London’s roads . My thoughts are with the family’s of those lost.

    • frankN 20/12/2013 at 9:30 pm #

      I mentioned this on the Evening Std recently but was totally ignored……..All large vehicles, as far as Know, emit both audible and visual (flashing light) warnings when reverse gear is engaged. Can anyone tell me why the same sort of simple technology has not been introduced for when the left turn indicator is selected ?
      Seems very cheap but very valuable all at once !

  18. Vincent 19/11/2013 at 9:26 pm #

    > Instead, the Mayor should be discussing his vision for creating a road network that protects all its road users.

    The Mayor should be planning to build serious cycling infrastuctures, separate from motor vehicules (and pedestrians.) Yes, this means less space for cars and trucks. Decision time.

    Food for thought:

    “How the Dutch got their cycle paths”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuBdf9jYj7o

    “Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyrTx9SXkVI

  19. Dave 19/11/2013 at 11:44 pm #

    What appears to be a common theme is that these people (let’s call them people, not cyclists, as that offers a faction and division, they may drive too) have been killed while at a junction.

    Now, I’m all for blaming irresponsible drivers where appropriate. Should they be too fast, too aggressive, distracted etc.. Whether they hit a bike, car, or pedestrian.

    But what we have here is professional drivers. They do this all day long, so I’d give them the benefit of the doubt that they want to preserve their license. It’s their bread and butter. So personally, without further information, I’d find it very difficult to label these drivers as being at fault on the known facts.

    Let’s also give them the benefit of the doubt to the cyclist, that they were not cycling recklessly.

    The conclusion I come to is that the cyclists were not educated enough to know how to ride around large vehicles. It’s not their fault (if that was the case). Where do you learn that info? That’s key. How do we educate people to give them the best chance on the road? What systems are in place in schools?

    How about spending one lesson of physics showing the strength of an impact between a car and bike (this drills home to both drivers and cyclists how fragile they are). How about spending one maths lesson getting kids to figure out the angles you can see from certain vehicles? Because even with the best driving in the world, if you can’t see someone, you can’t stop for them. So let’s first teach people how to be seen.

    I remember as a child I spent a term one hour per week learning the rules of the road and how to take turns. Does that still happen?

    • Alehouse Rock 21/12/2013 at 2:31 am #

      [[[[[[ “Dave” assures us that professional drivers don’t make mistakes—fatal mistakes.
      Poppycock!
      A.R.

      • dave 21/12/2013 at 5:13 pm #

        I didn’t say that. So don’t put words in my mouth. That’s low. I said..

        “So personally, without further information, I’d find it very difficult to label these drivers as being at fault on the known facts.”

        I said this because there is a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach taken to drivers on these forums. Cyclists can make fatal mistakes as much as any driver, but we don’t immediately vilify them. They could have illegally undertaken a lorry and put themselves in a blind spot. They also may not have. We don’t know. But apparently it’s okay to label someone as a ‘killer’ without evidence.

        As I said, “I’d find it very difficult to label these drivers as being at fault on the known facts”. Unless new facts have come to light since I posted that?

        • Alehouse Rock 22/12/2013 at 4:14 pm #

          [[[[[[ DAVE—–read your own “conclusion”. You have said (paragraph 5)……. I quote you:”The conclusion (is) that the cyclists were not educated enough to know how to ride around large vehicles”.
          The facts are not yet known, and I’m blaming neither the cyclists nor the drivers. And when you say, “the cyclists” that must mean ALL of them, and if you’ve come to that conclusion without witnessing each collision yourself, you must now (to be fair) make the same judgement about the drivers, in each case.

          Now say, “The conclusion I come to is that the DRIVERS were not educated enough to know how to drive around CYCLISTS”
          A.R.

        • dave 23/12/2013 at 3:41 pm #

          Ale – You are clearly a troll, but I will take the bait…

          Firstly, again, I reiterate that I never said professional drivers never make mistakes, as you claim. I wrote this:

          “Now, I’m all for blaming irresponsible drivers where appropriate. Should they be too fast, too aggressive, distracted etc.. Whether they hit a bike, car, or pedestrian.”

          Secondly, I wrote that the cyclists were not educated enough. Let’s face it, the odds are pretty good they weren’t. I believe I am on the cusp of generations where reading the highway code and taking a cycling proficiency test was mandatory at my school. Most people under 30 have not done this. It’s worth noting, one casualty was Russian, so it’s highly unlikely they had ever had any UK cycling training.

          Thirdly, I point out that my conclusion isn’t fact…

          “It’s not their fault (if that was the case).”

          So, please, be a decent human being and stop taking sections of my posts, rewriting them, or removing them from context, as you’re wasting my time.

          To counter your point that the drivers were not educated enough.

          The drivers WERE educated enough (unlike cyclists they will have trained and passed test for multiple vehicles and will have massive experience on the roads), although this doesn’t mean they still couldn’t have been responsible. However, again, let’s look at the evidence. The incidents involved large vehicles at junctions. Situations that are very dangerous for cyclists and often ridden very poorly. Despite all the headlines these events garnered, I have not seen one report of an eye witness saying the drivers were at fault and also despite being questioned, not one was arrested.

          Cyclists appear to have an almost unique shield of protection against criticism or blame. Picture these two people 1) someone who has had to take multiple theoretical and practical exams, perform tasks all day every day with their equipment, only requiring a few minor offenses for their ‘permits’ to be taken away and 2) someone who has not passed any theoretical or practical test, requires no permit, and can break the laws without danger of losing their tools. Can you imagine any other situation than cycling where in an accident the burden of blame always falls on person 1, the most qualified person. Isn’t that beyond strange?

          I point this out because as a driver who has passed multiple theory tests and multiple practical exams, in multiple countries, that has never got a point, been stopped by a policeman, or had a speeding fine, and has taken cycling tests. That if I hit a cyclist and it was their fault I am immediately suspected of being guilty.

        • Russell 23/12/2013 at 4:40 pm #

          Dave, I agree with everything you say but sadly you are just winding yourself up. No amount of reasoned argument will get through to many of the numpties who ride bikes in London. Its just the same on the LCC website, i.e. any collision – fatal or otherwise – must be the fault of the driver.
          When the Mayor made his comments he wasn’t trying to pass the buck, just voicing what any on London roads can see everyday. I don’t profess to know all the details but I believe on of the recent fatalities was cycling the wrong way down a one way street (must reiterate, I can not confirm that to be the case), which is just the kind of thing Boris was highlighting.
          The London Taxi Drivers Association recently posted a video on YouTube, they spent an hour filming at two major junctions and in that time of 350+ cyclists on film almost two thirds jumped the red. As the head man in the LTDV – himself a regular cyclist – stated, this just goes to show that irresponsible cyclists are not just a small rogue element but quite a sizable proportion of London cyclists – though thankfully still a minority.
          In a recent ITV news segment a member of the LCC committee was asked directly about the points made by the Mayor. His response, totally ignored the question and went on the usual LCC rant about HGV drivers, and then they wonder why drivers treat cyclists with disdain.
          Yes we have a right to use the roads but some seem to take this to mean we can do as we please but if we get hurt its the drivers fault – yes there are some idiotic drivers as well, but as the saying goes “they dent, we die!”
          We need to take responsibility for our actions and safety. That means ride sensibly, make yourself visible – Hi Vis, lights etc. – wear a helmet. DON’T go up the inside of large vehicles!
          That last point seems to be lost on many cyclists, to the extent I have resigned myself to the fact it is only a matter of time before I have to witness a cyclist die through such stupidity.
          As I said at the start of this post, Dave I agree with you, but don’t stress yourself, leave the numpties to their own devises and lookout for yourself. Safe riding.

    • David 21/12/2013 at 10:05 pm #

      I agree with all of the above.

  20. Jessica 20/11/2013 at 7:48 pm #

    I’ve just arrived back from my cycle home from work where a bus drive up alongside of me, stayed head to head with me and then proceeded to pull over into me. If I had not braked hard, I would be in hospital now. After coming to a stop and then starting back on the road, I knocked on the drivers window and asked him why he wanted to kill me. When will drivers learn that cyclists are vulnerable and not to be treated in such a manner! It’s disgusting.

    • Spencer 20/11/2013 at 9:52 pm #

      Been in a similar situation. Two lanes at lights, left for straight on or left turn, right for right turn only. I am in the cycle advance box, in the middle of the left lane to discourage motorists behind me from pulling an unsafe overtake. Bus directly behind me.

      Lights changed and I cycled off. Bus pulled into the right hand land, accelerates alongside me then immediately starts pulling to the left as the road constricts at the crossing island ahead. I was being forced towards the pedestrian barriers so braked sharply to avoid being crushed!

      I was in no state to record or remember the bus’s registration and none of the following motorists stopped.

      I survived, just hope the bus driver doesn’t pull the same manoeuvre on someone less fortunate in future.

      Have since had the same stunt pulled on me by a line of cars, though that was less harrowing and I had barely enough room left. Now understand why cyclists wear helmet cams…

    • Alehouse Rock 21/12/2013 at 2:38 am #

      [[[[[[ No, JESSICA. You must have dreamt it. See what “Dave” says? (above)—–
      “Professional drivers don’t make mistakes” Ergo, the cyclist must be at fault.
      A.R.

      • dave 21/12/2013 at 5:17 pm #

        Wow. You’re really low. You took something that I didn’t say, put it in quotes, and attributed it to me. Congratulations. Clap. Clap. Clap.

  21. EricD 21/11/2013 at 12:32 am #

    Why do an ‘Advanced Stop Line’ and associated ‘Feeder Lane’ precisely match the blind spots of an HGV ?

    Something there needs to change !

  22. Greg 22/11/2013 at 8:36 am #

    I know I am not the only cyclist who drives (or used to in my case) lorries – more than a few of us would arrive in the yard on our bikes before climbing up into our cabs. I also own two cars as I explain to any motorist stupid enough to bring up “road tax” to me…(one of them’s a classic so ‘free’ – I don’t mention that!) but many years ago I did my Cycling Proficiency at school. And have cycled to then school and later work ever since. I have been hit by vehicles but on the most part what I learnt on that proficiency course has kept me safe – people should take responsibility for their own safety and not allow modern city living to take over their own awareness on the way home to/from work…

  23. bob 22/11/2013 at 1:09 pm #

    I am an experienced cyclist and the scariest moments I hqve had are with skip hgv’s. AlsoI am regularly horrified by cyclists going up the inside of busses and hgvs qt junctions.

    Avoid skip trucks like the plauge.

    I also agree with boris on his headphones policy

  24. Peter 22/11/2013 at 1:11 pm #

    People assume that because the cyclist was on the inside of the lorry she put herself there. The HGV driver could very easily have driven up whilst she was waiting at the lights, then realised he needed to turn left and forgot to check.

    HGVs shouldn’t have blind spots, but then there is a lot to concentrate on even though most things are covered by mirrors

    I don’t understand why people writing this sort of article don’t concentrate on the main lessons of cycle training (which are certainly not hiviz and helmets):

    Position (ride where you can be seen)
    Observation (know what is around you)
    Communication (eye contact, hand signals if the situation warrants it)

  25. Peter 22/11/2013 at 1:15 pm #

    What’s clear to me is the extensive hostility to cyclists exhibited by callers on the radio and in newspapers. “I saw a cyclist …” invariably being the start of the conversation. No mention of the fact that it is drivers who are principally to blame; or the number of hit and runs; or the believe that speeding is OK, etc etc.

  26. Dave 22/11/2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Peter, I think you just called the kettle black. There are many idiots in all parties and you can easily find examples of both. For example yesterday as I was driving I was tailgated. I was also almost hit in the head by a cyclist pulling a wheely outside my office building’s door.

    You will also find that one does not cancel the other out. So yes, there are idiot drivers, but them being idiots does not make a cyclist not an idiot.

    The question is why is there hostility. Often it appears that a cyclist becomes hostile when their safety is impacted. Drivers when cyclists don’t obey the rules of the road. Let’s look at the reasons and see what we can change. Because finger pointing will not solve anything.

    I’d like to see a world where laws of the road are enforced as much to cyclists as to drivers, but they are also provided much safer routes, and where possible don’t even come in contact with traffic (e.g. the proposed raised cycleway).

  27. Mike 22/11/2013 at 4:27 pm #

    There are idiot drivers, idiot cyclists and idiot pedestrians. It is a sad fact that for every cyclist killed while riding perfectly properly and legally, there are a dozen others flirting with death to gain a few seconds, beat the traffic or just plain show off.
    This makes it very difficult to make the roads, junctions and roundabouts safer, since any initiative to do so just leads to people asking why the councils should spend money making it safer for cyclists to break the law.
    Proper enforcement of the law in relation to cyclists would help reduce the feeling that motorists have that cyclists have it all their own way, and proper education – and I mean education at primary and secondary school level, as well as for adults – might help instil a smidgeon of respect by all road users for all road users.
    Till we start improving that, you are always going to be writing these articles, Andreas!

  28. Russ 23/11/2013 at 1:25 am #

    Well said Geoff, I have been making just such point’s on the LCC website recently. Have also repearedly pointed out that the LCC leadership should be using their position of authority to ram home these points, but no joy, they seem oblivious to the amount of reckless cycling in thos city and merely continue with their obsesive assault on HGV drivers.

  29. David 27/11/2013 at 12:44 pm #

    I am a reasonably experienced cyclist. And it is not right to blame the victims for their fate. ………..however When I’ve cycled round London I cannot help noticing that around busy roundabouts like Bow, lorries sometimes are most likely to be turning left whilst motor traffic and cyclists are likely to wish to go straight ahead. In some cases the lanes are clearly marked such that the left lane is only for turning left, and the right lane is for traffic wishing to go straight ahead. Now I know these are busy roundabouts which could really do with cycle only flyovers or underpasses ( creating a hazard later on of course when cyclists need to rejoin the main carriageway) ……but….. Where do most cyclists position themselves on entering such roundabouts to go straight over ? On the extreme left of the left turn lane. why ? If the right hand lane is prescribed for going straight ahead why not use that lane ? Get in the middle of that lane and behave like a rider , not a hider!

  30. Giles Pinnock 29/11/2013 at 10:44 am #

    As a regular motorist, cyclist and motorcyclist in central London, I regularly cringe to see cyclists and scooters disappearing up the tiny shoulder-width space to the left-hand side of trucks and buses, particularly where they are begging to be pinned between the truck / bus and a very unforgiving set of railings leading up to a junction.

    When I took my bike test, it was drummed into my head by my excellent ex-Met instructor that whatever the accident report says, when (not if, on two wheels) you have an accident, you have to do a deal with yourself that it was in fact your own fault for not adequately comprehending just how stupid, distracted, aggressive &c the driver of the other vehicle was. Tough but good advice, especially in the context that police riders are taught to ride as if they are invisible and to trust no-one to be looking out for them.

    All that said, were anyone to propose the introduction of a new road vehicle several times larger than any other with visibility only directly forwards from the driving position, they might I would hope, get laughed out of court. So perhaps it is time to get the trucks off the road, certainly during peak times.

    Perhaps those loads that have to come into the city centre should be unloaded onto smaller vehicles – a commercial park-and-ride arrangement? Anything huge that really needs a truck – eg, girders for buildings – comes in under licence with a police escort and pays handsomely for the privilege.

    • David 01/12/2013 at 1:50 pm #

      How about hoardes of cargo bikes? That would do it !

    • Dave 01/12/2013 at 4:19 pm #

      “All that said, were anyone to propose the introduction of a new road vehicle several times larger than any other with visibility only directly forwards from the driving position, they might I would hope, get laughed out of court. So perhaps it is time to get the trucks off the road, certainly during peak times.”

      But flip the coin, if anyone ever suggested a new vehicle for people (child to OAP), completely unprotected, sat on two thin wheels, with only the smallest of brakes and no mirrors, to ride alongside huge chunks of metal going at up to 70 miles an hour within inches of them, without ever having to pass a test or know the rules of the road, and suggest that these people could ever be ‘safe’, they’d also be laughed at.

      Yet that’s what people do every single day. The very concept of ‘safe cycling’ is an illusion or delusion (depending on your who you are). Risk adverse cycling would be a better name.

      • David 01/12/2013 at 4:28 pm #

        The fact is that even with the recent deaths , though, on a Ksi per km travelled basis, and excluding motorised travel on motorways from the comparison, cycling is still as safe or safer than motorised travel. And certainly much safer than being a pedestrian.

  31. Dave 01/12/2013 at 6:22 pm #

    Why would you exclude motorised travel on motorways?

    • David 01/12/2013 at 11:28 pm #

      So that it’s an apples and apples comparison . Motorways are the safest roads there are in terms of Ksi per km travelled. But cyclists are deprived of these safety benefits because we are banned from them. So in order to compare like with like , motorway travel stats should be excluded . Then you are comparing the safety of cars and bikes travelling on the same roads.

      • David 01/12/2013 at 11:33 pm #

        Of course if you were comparing cars and motorbikes then it’s a different matter.

  32. Dave 02/12/2013 at 2:37 am #

    You are comparing a bike to a car, so it’s already apple’s to oranges. Why selectively choose just one type of road, yet not add any modifiers like “excluding motorways, cycle paths, cycle lanes, and pavements”?

    It is misleading to say “if you exclude the safest roads in Britain for cars, then bikes are safer”. That’s just cherry picking the info you need to make a point. Accidents per km driven on motorways are phenomenally low.

    Taking into account all the places that any vehicle can be ridden / driven on, are cars or bikes safer per km per person?

    Please give links to all data. Thanks.

  33. David 02/12/2013 at 5:20 am #

    I don’t believe that it’s misleading at all as long as it’s obvious theat the reason it’s being done is to normalise the data for comparison.

    I cannot find the paper itself, but it was published this time last year and there was an article written on road.cc.

    http://road.cc/content/news/71717-govt-stats-over-state-risks-cycling-says-new-research-its-pedestrians-young-male

  34. David 02/12/2013 at 5:46 am #

    Here’s the original UCL research paper:

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0050606

  35. Dave B 02/12/2013 at 12:26 pm #

    Working in journal publishing I see this all the time. One element of a paper is taken out and re-broadcast across mainstream media and blogs because it will create a headline. In this instance it’s ‘cycling is safer than driving for males 17-20′. Great headline for cycle blogs.

    Of course the reverse of this would be ‘Driving is as safe or safer than cycling for males 20-70 and all females’. This headline not having quite the same clickable appeal.

    But let’s look at the actual paper. A simple glance at Figure 2 or Figure 5 shows that the 17-20 range is a blip in the otherwise overwhelming trend that driving is far safer. Not only after the age of 20 is it safer to drive, cycling becomes progressively more risky.

    Figures aside, let’s look at the first line of the discussion…

    “Previous assessments showed that the all-ages risks per hour vary by country for all travel modes, with the risk for UK cyclists higher than for drivers or pedestrians [24]. Our study confirms this is so overall.”

    So to reiterate, cycling is higher risk (despite the headlines).

    What’s even more interesting about this is the study did it’s best to be pro-cycle. It did this by…
    1. Excluding motorways (safest roads)
    2. Focused on short journeys (15-100% higher risk for drivers)
    3. Trying to ‘normalize’ the data by roads traveled on, but not speed of accident (i.e. a 60mph car collision is of course going to be more dangerous than a car traveling at bike speeds).

    The reality is that if I want to get from A-B regardless of distance, or roads traveled on, driving is far safer than cycling, unless I happen to by a 17-20 male on the most high-risk roads.

  36. Alehouse Rock 22/12/2013 at 11:07 pm #

    [[[[[[[ Hello DAVE……I’ve posted another reply. See above.
    A.R.

  37. Alehouse Rock 23/12/2013 at 8:12 pm #

    [[[[[[[ Well, thank you for describing me as “clearly a troll” —“not a decent human being”—and “a low person”. I’ve disagreed with some of your sweeping assumptions, but you will notice that I have not condemned your character, and I’m not going to. Personal insults generate heat—but no light—and when you use such language, you denigrate no-one but yourself.
    Toodle-oo and good luck.

  38. paul carroll 03/05/2014 at 11:50 am #

    i’ve no idea why the cycle superhighways were built on the busiest roads in london. there are 20mph limits in every borough and it would have been far safer to build the superhighways through those roads, as no hgvs ever use these roads.
    a good example of this near where i live is battersea park. the cycle superhighway runs along battersea park road, yet the 20mph road next to the park doesn’t have a cycle lane.
    I’m all for bike safety, but the safest way is segregation, and the solution is obvious and there already. Build the superhighways through the 20mph zones, even turn the superhighways into bike only roads, you’ll only need a couple in each borough, and this will stop hgvs coming into contact with cyclists.
    it’s the safest solution, just reduce the amount of contact between these lorries and cyclists.

  39. Giles 03/05/2014 at 3:40 pm #

    Segregation can have its risks too. I used to live in Milton Keynes, which was designed with separation of motorized vehicles from pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrians and cyclists were given broad leafy pathways away from the traffic, which sounds lovely. But … nearly everyone in MK drives or takes the bus because of the distances involved. The secluded leafy cycle paths are deserted by all but a few dog-walkers and cyclists, and attacks on lone cyclists and walkers occur at least in part because there are few by way of other passers-by to witness or intervene.

  40. Rhys 29/05/2014 at 3:04 pm #

    I have been riding a motorcycle daily, in London for 32 years and, to this day, have never been knocked off. I did use a bicycle for a while, but 20 years ago it was really dangerous.

    I would like to suggest or at least draw all cyclist attention to using a horn similar to the one fitted to my motorcycle, its 12 volt

    The reason I say this is because my extensive travels around India I noticed the all the tut-tuts, lorries and buses have signs painted on the rear of the vehicles saying……..
    “Please sound your horn !!”

    It works and although sounding the horn in India is acceptable and encouraged it may take a bit of time before this adoption by the cycling community is understood by London drivers to mean ” I’m next to you”

    No obnoxious air horns please, just a simple 12 volt type horn off a motorcycle that’s going to alert people to your presence, not scare the hell out of them.

    Approximately 85dB.

    So, if one of you bright sparks can come up with design, probably running of a small alternator or a rechargeable device I would greatly appreciate not having to read the obituaries ever again.

    So, lots of toot tooting around London will save lives.

  41. Alehouse Rock 29/05/2014 at 6:48 pm #

    [[[[[ RHYS—-has it not occurred to you that it’s not the HORN that’s kept you safe for 32 years—it’s the infernal cacophony caused by your motorbike ENGINE, which can be heard 100 yards away in every direction—and even round corners—and will be clearly audible even to drivers inside their motor vehicles, and (obviously) to those idiot pedestrians stepping into the road while on their mobile phones? I have a HORNIT warning-buzzer on my bike, and it’s loud (alledgedly 140 decibels), but if people are oblivious to my approach until I activate me screechy doo-dah, I don’t imagine the cyclists’ environment is going to change for the better any time soon…
    A.R.

    • Rhys 30/05/2014 at 12:26 pm #

      A.R… Yes that is true, the engine does attract attention and if I had a louder exhaust it would attract more attention. At the other end of the noise spectrum in which cyclist live,
      I have seen many a pedestrian draped over the front of a Prius or equivalent quiet vehicle. My point is, noise is better than a visual and cyclist should be encouraged to use a horn frequently using shorter beep’s as they approach a possible hazardous situation. That Hornit you use at 140dB is too loud and if you fired that of next to me I’d probably have a heart attack.
      We don’t want to alienate other road users.
      Three or four rapid successive short beeps on a horn gets peoples attention. It worked for me riding through clogged up streets of Mumbai in India.
      I also recognise this is only one factor in making London roads safer for cyclists.

      • Alehouse Rock 30/05/2014 at 2:51 pm #

        Rhys…..yes, but the Hornit’s “140 decibels” claim probably refers only to optimum street conditions, and anyway there is a button on it giving a quieter option, which I use on Shared-Use footpaths, like in parks and on towpaths etc…..and no, I don’t have shares in the company.
        A.R.

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