65 London cyclists dead in 5 years; why it's time for action tonight

On Friday night thousands of Londoners took to the streets to protest at the lack of progress in efforts to keep our city's cyclists safe.  In a grim twist of fate, another cyclist was killed on Monday morning.

The as yet unnamed middle aged male was killed cycling through the busy junction where High Holborn meets the Kingsway, outside Holborn Tube station in central London.  He was crushed by a 4-axel tipper lorry that was not fitted with side guards, that was passing through the city during the morning rush hour.  The driver was arrested and remanded in custody on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

 Holborn re-opened to traffic last night

Friday night's protest was in response to the death of student Philippine De Gerin-Ricard, a 20 year old French student who became the first "Boris Biker" to be killed in London, crushed by a lorry on Cycle Superhighway 2 in Aldgate on Friday July 5th.  Londoners on bicycles of all shapes and sizes, and some on foot, gathered to demand that the Mayor Boris Johnson keep his word.  On his re-election last year he pledged to implement the London Cycling Campaign's "Go Dutch" campaign and create safe space for cycling on major roads.  Previously, on the problem of dangerous lorries on London's roads, he said "In future we are going to be stipulating that no HGV can enter London unless it meets cycle safety standards".

BBC London covered Monday's fatal collision; as it went to air at 6.30PM I was standing at the junction where the cyclist had lost their life earlier that morningThe road had re-opened to traffic after many hours of investigation.  Yellow spray paint marked by forensic investigators on the road showed the transit of the bicycle as it was dragged beneath the tipper lorry.  Some loose change and nuts and bolts from the bicycle had been ground in to the tarmac by the truck.  On the television, the Mayor's Managing Director for Surface Transport at Transport for London Leon Daniels was quick to state "I think it is very important we don't have too much of a knee-jerk reaction."

 Paint marks the scene of the collision

The gentleman who died on Monday is the 65th cyclist to be killed on London's roads since Boris Johnson came to power in May 2008, the 5th in 2013.  In this time, piece-meal investments, poorly executed Cycle Superhighways, and soundbites has done little to keep people on bikes safe.  Cyclists and their friends and families are sick of being fobbed off with words, and waiting for safe cycling solutions that are never delivered.  As I wrote before last week's protest the time has come for deeds, not words.  

In Holborn, stop-gap solutions are available whilst we wait for this dangerous junction to be re-designed; it is within Boris Johnson's powers to allow cyclists to legally use the west-bound Theobalds Road bus lane that bypasses this junction, and to ban HGVs from London in the peak hours, as has been advocated by the British Medical Journal since their 1994 study "Death of Cyclists in London" (See my earlier post "Advice for us all; cycling safely with lorries in London")

 Holborn, viewed from the east facing west

The Chief Executive of London Cycling Campaign, Dr Ashok Sinha, is urging ALL Londoners - whether on bike or on foot - to join their second #space4cycing flashride TONIGHT, gathering at 6.30PM in Russel Square before riding to the death junction in Holborn.  He said; "Three Londoners have now been killed in three weeks, two of them by lorries on busy roads that provide no dedicated space for cycling.

"Mayor Boris Johnson must take swift and radical steps to redesign our streets to make them safe and inviting for everyone to cycle.

"The evidence is clear: if he doesn't do this, then more Londoners will die needlessly cycling on our city streets."

At such short notice we must tell our friends and colleagues that tonight is happening in order for it to be effective - I'll be using my Twitter and Facebook channels to hep spread the word and would urge you to do the same - and turn up to show we care.  The Mayor and TfL can obfuscate no longer; London's cyclists deserve to get around our city safely.  Whether you come on foot or by bike, I hope to see you tonight!

Full details of the LCC flashride tonight can be found on their website hereYou can download placards here and here to attach to your bike for the ride. The hashtag for the ride is #space4cycling

If you're nervous about cycling to Russel Square for the first time, people are organising informal group rides from their corner of the city.  Check out this Google map for rides near you, or if you are happy to show people the way add your ride details too. 

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mark Reilly said...

Yesterday's tragedy was caused by a Dumper truck, while there have been a lot of concerns about their operation. I can see the logic in them being near the construction sites, better safe guards are needed.

But has anyone explained what the 6 wheel container lorry was doing in Aldgate ??
Was it a local delivery? Or through traffic avoiding congestion on th M25 etc?
Surely thre is a case to ban through journies by HGV & limit the size of delivery lorries and restrict their delivery times???

Surely easy measures that could be done at the stroke of a pen.....

Anonymous said...

Whilst I applaud these flash mobs, I think it's time for a new - more direct and aggressive - tactic. Enough is enough.

I'd propose a sit down protest in the middle of Holborn. Get 100 to 200 Boris Bikes, lock them wheel to wheel, and just sit in the junction for 2 hours.

The bikes would be impossible to move until we want to move them. The police wouldn't be able to disperse it, nor would they be able to ram or drive through the bikes. They could drag us away, but the bikes would still be stuck there. It would also be ironic justice to use Boris' bikes against him.

Freedom Cyclist said...

I like Anonymous' idea of a sit-in made up of Boris bikes and people - but so sad any of this is necessary.

Anonymous said...

I was nearly killed on that very same junction a couple of years ago. A motorcyclist objected to me being in front of him - in the cyclist box at the junction. After the lights changed, he kicked me as he passed. Fortunately the car behind was slow in moving off and was able to stop in time before running into me. The lack of action on the ASLs is a sure sign that neither Johnson nor the police really care about cyclist safety. The so-called Superhighways are a joke. Blue painted bits of road that anyone can drive or park on. Bullshit.

Edwardian Fred said...

Three deaths in three weeks. That makes cycling in London like Formula 1 in the seventies.

Instead of bicycle symbols they should mark those blue paint lanes with skulls and crossbones.

Michael said...

re: Boris Bikes idea - it's a nice idea, but the police could just photograph the bike numbers and later arrest people via their card details.

Holding up traffic by riding an endless loop round a gyratory system might be an alternative idea?

Anonymous said...

I would like to cycle but given the astonishing law breaking and anti social behaviour of London cyclists choose not to. Surely with cyclists routinely breaking the law to the extent some are getting killed (who really wants this?), it is time for the law to be applied equally to all road users including cyclists? Let's start with registration plates and only allowing cyclists who have taken a test being allowed on the roads - at least then the argument can proceed on a level playing field.

Anonymous said...

The problem is this .. my brother is a Traffic PC .. he says every time they do an operation centred on driver behaviour around drivers and cyclists they end up reporting more cyclists for breaking the law than drivers because they are so blatant is flouting the rules for a various list of excuses that rarely hold any water in an argument. the Picture at the top of this article is proof in point the boris bike rider is sitting in the crossing point, no cyclist in London can argue that lights are run and crossings impeded constantly by cyclists and the speed at which they dart between traffic is terrifying to most observers giving decent drivers no warning of their presence. I work in Lonodon and yesterday saw a lady just ride through a junction and turn left and never even looked as a bus drove past her with less than inches between her and certain death. Its a two way street .. cyclists must behave to be protected