After the death of 20-year old French student Philippine De Gerin-Ricard and 54-year old Alan Neve, London cyclists took to the street to voice their frustration at the lack of progress in creating safer streets for cycling.
The first protest ride attracted 1500 cyclists and the second around 2500. They were organised by the LCC in collaboration with London’s cycling bloggers, who put out rallying calls across social media.
Both the deaths involved a lorry and were widely reported across London’s media.
Philippine De Gerin-Ricard
Philippine De Gerin-Ricard was in London for just 4 months, to improver her English as part of her business studies education. She was cycling on a Boris Bike along Cycle Superhighway 2. Due to the roadworks, she was forced in a tight position, sharing the road with a lorry. She died of her injuries.
The protest ride started on the 12th of July at 6pm from Tower Hill. A moments silence was held on the junction between Whitechapel Road and Commercial Street, where the fatal crash occurred.
The LCC said:
“Cyclists of all abilities, including children, are expected to jockey for position among lorries, cars, motorbikes, buses and taxis, with only a smattering of ineffective blue paint and a few bike symbols to protect them. Until the Mayor and Transport for London accept that on London’s busiest roads clear space for cycling must be allocated, then cycling fatalities such as these will continue to happen regularly and cycling growth will be stifled.”
According to Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor’s cycling commissioner, improvements are planned to the area.
Alan Neve was cycling to work in Holborn during rush hour when he was hit by a tipper truck.
The protest ride took place on 16th of July, travelling from Russell Square to Lincoln’s Inn Fields, pausing at the site of the fatality to pay respects to the victim.
Cyclists continue to be banned from the bus lane that avoids the Holborn junction where Alan was killed. In fact, just weeks before the incident, the police were out fining cyclists taking that route.
Time for action
It’s excellent to see these protest rides being so well attended and gathering media attention. I hope that they’ll continue to be used to spread the message and put pressure on authorities.
Since Boris Johnson came to office, there have been 68 cyclist fatalities. Approximately half of these have involved a Heavy Goods Vehicle.
When I first launched London Cyclist Blog, there was no coherent message coming out of cycling campaign groups. There were calls for lower speed limits, banning HGV’s in city centres and campaigns to share the road.
The message is now much more simple:
Safe space for cycling
It appears the Mayor is listening and grand promises have been made. However, progress on the ground has been slow. Improvements to the cycle superhighways have been scheduled but they are still a few years away. It’s sad to think of the number of people that will have to lose their lives before we finally get a London fit for cycling.