Deeds not words, Boris. Join Friday's flashride to tell the Mayor he must act to stop cycle deaths

Since he became Mayor of London 5 years ago, we've heard a lot of words from Boris Johnson about cycling, and stopping cyclists from being killed on our roads.  Here's a selection...

“I am determined to turn London into a cyclised city – a civilised city where people can ride their bikes safely and easily in a pleasant environment” 
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, 
May 2010 "Cycling Revolution" 

"..these Superhighways are central to the cycling revolution I'm determined to bring about. No longer will pedal power have to dance and dodge around petrol power - on these routes the bicycle will dominate and that will be clear to all others using them. That should transform the experience of cycling - boosting safety and confidence of everyone using the routes and reinforcing my view that the bike is the best way to travel in this wonderful city of ours." 
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, 

"In future we are going to be stipulating that no HGV can enter London unless it meets cycle safety standards"
 Boris Johnson, Mayor of London,
April 2013, following the death of Dr Catherine Giles.

"[A central London lorry ban would] stop polluting heavy goods vehicles travelling through London and make a real difference"
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, 2010

“I am fully committed to meeting the three key tests of LCC’s ‘Love London, Go Dutch’ campaign”
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, 
2012, on committing to the "Go Dutch" campaign 
and securing cycling endorsements for his re-election.

"As for my blue bike lanes, they are perfectly … there is no ban on allowing your wheels to stray into them, they are there purely, as you know they are there for indicative purposes."
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, 

"The thing that makes cycling safe in London is when people have the confidence to do it in numbers.  The more you can get on the roads, the safer it is going to be for everybody"
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, 
2013, following the death of a cyclist on one of his "Boris Bikes" 
on Cycle Superhighway 2 last Friday

As we can see, he's weaved a path between media-friendly soundbites, vague commitments and honest admissions that his so-called Cycle Superhighways are little more than blue paint.

On Friday Phillipine Degerin-Ricard, a 20 years young female student from France, became the first person in London to be killed on a "Boris Bike" cycling across Aldgate Gyratory on Cycle Superhighway 2.  She becomes the third person on a bicycle to be killed by a lorry on or approaching CS2 following the deaths of Brian Dorling and Svitlana Tereschenko at Bow roundabout in 2011.  Friday's fatality was the second in a week following the death of a cyclist killed in a hit and run in Lewisham.

CS2 cycle superhighway, Bow E3. First 
London Citaro LX04 KZT, 23045  25 route.
Cycle Superhighway 2, in Bow

The 'design' of CS2 is so negligent, so shockingly poor, that the London Cycling Campaign condemned it in the strongest possible terms before it was built, and has been calling for a re-design of the scheme ever since.  

Of CS2 at Bow roundabout, they wrote the following:
"During a 2010 inspection ride, prior to the implementation of the Cycle Superhighway that connects [with Bow roundabout], we warned TfL in the starkest terms of the dangers of left-turning vehicles, high traffic volumes and speeds, and the absence of provision for cyclists.
And when we saw the woefully inadequate design for the Superhighway in February 2011, we wrote to senior Transport for London management to warn them expressly that this roundabout posed a continued and real danger.
We cannot understand how this junction can form part of what is one of the Mayor’s flagship cycling projects.”

Dr Ashok Sinha, Chief Executive, London Cycling Campaign

And where CS2 passes through the hideous motor-dominated Aldgate Gyratory where Friday's fatal collision took place, they had the following to say in a letter to Transport for London in 2011:
"There is a serious concern that the apparent deficiencies in CS2 are so significant that it may be better to re-consider this route."

The London Cycling Campaign added yesterday "Superhighway 2 follows the A11 trunk road, a busy multi-lane road used by high volumes of fast-moving motor traffic; however, despite being one of the Mayor's flagship commuter cycle routes, the section of Superhighway 2 from Aldgate to Bow roundabout provides no dedicated space for cycling."

 Cycle Superhighway 2 at Aldgate - not fit for purpose. (This terrifying photo via Danny at the always-excellent Cyclists In the City blog)

"No dedicated space for cycling" is a polite way of saying "paint is just paint", which is all that the majority of CS2 is; great splashes of bright blue paint, not even setting to one side an edge of the road, which disappear beneath crocodiles of heavy traffic and does NOTHING to improve cyclist's safety in any way, and certainly doesn't protect slow moving or vulnerable cyclists from 6-axle container lorries like the one that was driving through central London at rush hour last Friday and which killed Ms Degerin-Ricard on her Boris Bike.

On CS2 the Mayor and Transport for London pressed ahead with their designs, ignoring the advice of the LCC as well as that of their own transport experts Jacobs, who made it clear that signalised junctions and off-carriageway cycle lanes at Bow would have to be provided to avoid fatalities, fatalities which of course later came to pass.  TfL did the same at another killer junction - Kings Cross - where student Min Joo Lee was killed in 2011 by a construction lorry.  Despite their consultants telling them that "casualties were inevitable" there, TfL told their engineers to "ignore cyclists" when re-structuring the junction to increase traffic flow.  

And now at Aldgate a bright young student with her whole life ahead of her has been killed in the worst imaginable way on our roads, leaving behind her family from France who must come here to identify her body and try to pick up the pieces of their lives.  
A death foretold, and wholly avoidable. 

A 6-axle container lorry similar to the one involved in last week's fatal collision

There have been plenty of fine words emanating from the Mayor and TfL about cycling of late.  Boris has appointed Andrew Gilligan as his Cycling Czar to bang heads together, and the Mayor loves to wax lyrical about his successful bike hire scheme and the forthcoming RideLondon mass participation event.  Plans for the extension of CS2 from Bow to Stratford look very encouraging, but so far are only plans.

But as we can see, when it comes to delivering genuine change on the ground, to date all we have had are empty promises, funding announcements for which the money is not yet secured, a few 20mph stickers on Waterloo roundabout, and that is about it.  

It simply isn't good enough.

Cyclists now make up more than a quarter of peak traffic in central London - over 60% on some routes.  They are the cogs that keep London moving; without us the city would come to a stand still.  And yet the shocking, depressing, seemingly-inevitable death toll of our fellow riders is treated as simply "one of those things" while TfL dither over where next to splash their paint.

It simply isn't good enough.

The time for fine words from Boris has passed.  In 2012 he was re-elected to be our Mayor on the promise that he would commit to the London Cycling Campaign's "Go Dutch" campaign, establishing safe and clear space for cycling on main roads.

On Friday, the London Cycling Campaign is calling on all London cyclists and their supporters to join them for a protest flashride demanding that the Mayor and Transport for London to act on their words, and to act now, to design our streets for cyclists of all abilities, and to eradicate needless vulnerable road user deaths and serious injuries.  

They state; "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."

Meet on 12.07.13 at Tower Hill (where it joins the Minories) at 6PM marshalling for a prompt 6.15PM departure, riding for 20 to 30 minutes along the route of Cycle Superhighway 2, and pausing to pay respects where the student was killed last week, before dispersing in Altab Ali Park near Brick Lane.

If you're angry at this latest cycling death, and sickened by the empty rhetoric of Boris Johnson and TfL then please join us, bring your friends, families and co-workers and help to spread the message using your Twitter and Facebook channels.

I'll be there on Friday, and hope to see you too.

View Tower Hill to Aldgate protest ride in a larger map

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David Hembrow said...

Yes it's been another five years of bluffing and no real action. Yet the Netherlands achieved enough in eight years that people visited from London and took back recommendations about what should be done... in 1981 !

Not only London, but also the UK as a whole, desperately needs the "deeds not words" that you are calling for. There have been enough broken promises.

Britain can catch up, but only when forward progress actually starts to be made rather than hype being the normal means of communication by British authorities such as London.

Forty years, 128 days and counting...

Unknown said...

As always you have hit the nail on the head Mark. So many empty promises and no improvement on safety. This route is and has always been a dangerous and unpleasant joke.
Wish I could be there to support on Friday, but will be there in spirit!


Jonathan Jones said...

I saw a bicyclist nearly get run down on Tottenham Court Rd, when a van wasn't paying attention and turned left to go down a road. Luckily the bicyclist wasn't injured, but it sure did scare me...

The fact they call those blue painted lines "Superhighway"s is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

For every death there are dozens of reportable accidents and serious injuries, and for each of those there are numerous near misses and bumps.

Boris is all talk. At Bow and at the location near the Olympics Park where tragic fatalities occurred there are piss-poor yellow signs saying 'CYCLISTS BEWARE', adjacent to decaying bunches of flowers tied to railings. Some kind of pathetic disclaimer.

The Cycle Super Highways are a joke. Off peak they can often be parked in, frequently they are in the door zone, they are pretty much ignored by understandably confused motorists. Plus, if they are designed to improve safety, cyclists are still exposed to feeble local infrastructure to get to them. Tower Hamlets are a failure on this front.

Anonymous said...

TfL recently resurfaced Old Street Roudabout. This junction sees hundreds of cyclists every day.

The original cycle infrastructure was severely lacking.

TfL did nothing to improve upon it.

TfL clearly have a fatality-threshold. They ignore cycling organisations recommendations, logic and good sense. They've just try to 'get away with it'. Report a road defect and TfL will either ignore it because they don't consider it a hazard or motor vehicles or they will eventually send someone along with some cake decorating skills to lazily shovel some sugar and water into the pot hole.

Anonymous said...

Report minicabs regularly parking on double red or yellow line in a dangerous location - Western end of Hackney Road for example... The police aren't interested, they old me as such (and a cycling copper at that). The local authorities blame each other. Again, fatality threshold.

Anonymous said...

Enforce Regent's canal cycling regulations (not speeding and pedestrian priority) or ban bicycles on the canal pathway!!!!!

Cycleoptic said...

Started working at new iCity in Olympic park, which has NO pedestrian or cycles access at present.

TFL cycle route planner routes take you to Westfield via no cyclist routes from Eastway and greenway, from Victoria park, hackney, Islington both into prohibited building sites.

Only Alternative route via A12,A11 and Bow roundabout, scene of fatal accidents, and Stratford High Street,

Plenty of empty cycle racks when you get there, I wonder why?

A year after the Olympics this is the legacy we get, no cycling on signposted "cycling routes" and no safe alternatives routes to the park.

Motor vehicles are of course allowed, showing how important cycling infrastructure is to the new Olympic park and westfiekd shopping centre.

Barry said...

Went on the flashride. Hope nobody noticed that the chant of Blue paint - not enough should have been Blue paint - ISNT enough. Sounded like we want more blue paint to me!!!

Anonymous said...

We should make Boris commute to work every day on the CS2 and see how he likes it.

John S said...

Any chance of turning "Prudential RideLondon" (ugh!) on 3 August into a huge protest?