A victory of sorts; review ordered of Cycle Superhighway junctions and Bow

Just a few short weeks ago, the chair of Transport for London Boris Johnson was arguing that he believed danger reduction on the roads under his care was best achieved with education and awareness campaigns and that junctions like the Elephant and Castle were fine for cyclists "so long as they kept their wits about them".

The family of Brian Dorling, local politicians and cyclists gathered at Bow roundabout on Friday for a candle lit vigil in honour of the two cyclists killed there recently and calling for urgent action here.

Following the recent deaths of two cyclists killed at Bow roundabout, and intense pressure from cycling campaigns and activists the Mayor's Director of Environment and Cycling Kulveer Ranger has announced "Work is beginning on how London gears up to move to the next level of cycling infrastructure and continuing to improve safety for cyclists.

"This includes a commitment from TfL to review all major schemes planned on TfL roads as well as to review all the junctions on the existing cycle superhighways.
"That work will include an assessment of Bow Roundabout, which TfL have been asked to report back to the mayor on as a matter of urgency"

As a pragmatist I welcome this review; I believe it is significant that TfL have been forced to move to acknowledging that there could be a role in the actual design of roads to play in cyclist safety, as oppose to just awareness and education.  As an organisation I'm not sure that Transport for London listens easily or is used to having to take on board the concerns of communities and road users, so this news is a break through of sorts.

The review of Bow roundabout is due at the end of this week.  I'm glad that this is being treated as an urgent priority as clearly this junction is inherently dangerous.  However, any review of this junction or others must have teeth.  London's cyclists will not easily be fobbed off with a "talking shop".  TfL will not be allowed to "review" London's most dangerous junctions and then do nothing.

And whilst I welcome seeing some action at Transport for London, very serious questions remain about their previous conduct:

Why did they ignore the advice of the LCC and their own consultants at Bow which stated clearly what needed to be done to make this junction safe if cyclists were to be invited here?

Why did TfL ignore the report they commissioned about King's Cross which stated clearly that casualties were "inevitable" if something wasn't done to improve safety there?

Why, at Blackfriars and on the cycle superhighways, has the "smooth flow of traffic" been put above the safety and direct progress of cyclists?

TfL and the Mayor must explain what has happened here, and what steps are being taken to ensure this doesn't happen again.

These are serious questions, and indeed with two deaths in quick succession at Bow this is a very serious issue.

Whilst I welcome TfL re-framing the debate to acknowledge that their very road designs have a large role to play in creating conditions which invite cyclists and which keep them safe, I (and Cyclists in the City, and the London Cycling Campaign) will be keeping a very keen eye on their actions to ensure that this is more than just talk and that we see real progress, starting urgently and immediately with action at Bow.

Thank you to everyone who has been taking the time to email the Mayor, come on the Tour du Danger and indeed help spread the word about the message coming from this blog and others.  You've all helped to bring about some progress at TfL on this issue, and I know you will all be watching closely too.  Together we can keep up the pressure to help to make London a better cycling city for all.

Photographs from the London Cycling Campaign website, provided by photographer Ben Broomfield


Anonymous said...

Great work. Glad there's some progress.

Let's make sure that the review doesn't just include the superhighways, but also the urgent remedial work that's needed at places like King's Cross and Blackfriars - and future plans for places like Elephant and Vauxhall.

Also, let's hope that the review is not conducted by TFL alone, but in conjunction with LCC and activists, who will help to keep it honest.

ibikelondon said...


Thanks. It's a start! Small acorns and all that. I'll be keeping an eye on things, that's for certain.

Unknown said...

I really hope that this review can achieve some changes. The vigil on Friday was very moving (despite not being able to hear half of what was said) & it was good to see that it got some coverage!

Anonymous said...


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