Monday, 15 July 2013

Two Londoners killed in two weeks as a direct result of TfL and Boris Johnson's appalling and inhumane management of London's roads. We need dedicated safe cycle lanes and we need them before even more Londoners are killed. #space4cycling

Photo from the scene this morning where a Londoner was killed by a lorry driver while riding a bike through Holborn. Via @BezTweets
This morning another Londoner (later identified as Alan Neve) following TfL's advertising and choosing to go from A to B by bike was crushed to death under the wheels of a lorry; this time it was at Holborn, right in the heart of Central London.

TfL continue to prioritise 'traffic flow' over the safety cyclists, but don't seem to realise that the amount of congestion caused by serious collisions like these clogs up the road by far more than their inhumane 'traffic flow' policies speeds up traffic. The roads would be faster for everyone - including motor traffic - if safe, segregated cycle lanes were built.
Boris Johnson said after Philippine De Gerin-Richard was killed by a lorry driver while riding a Boris Bike at Aldgate earlier this month that instead of separating cyclists from fast-moving motor traffic (especially 20 tonne HGVs) the real way to stop the relentless killing and maiming of Londoners who choose to travel by bike was to simply get more cyclists on the streets:
"the thing that makes cycling safe in London, is when people have the confidence to do it in numbers; the more people [on bikes] you can get on the roads, the safer it's going to be for everybody."
As today's awful fatality shows, Boris Johnson was talking absolute crap.

Encouraging more cycling in London in current conditions will lead to more people like Philippine De Gerin-Ricard (who was a regular and experienced Boris Bike user) being needlessly crushed to death under the wheels of London's motor traffic. Photo via Evening Standard.

If you mix even more cyclists with deadly and irresponsibly driven motor vehicles and you simple find even more Londoners being killed by motorised traffic.

This is what we are seeing now.

Police are already investigating whether the absolutely atrocious road design of Cycle "Superhighway" 2 (on which three cyclists have been killed in the last two years) led to Philippine De Gerin-Richard being killed. This is because rather than building a segregated cycle lane at Aldgate - as is the norm in Tokyo, New York, and countless other major cities - TfL instead force cyclists and traffic to share a 'general traffic lane' which simply results in Londoners being squeezed to death under the wheels of 20 tonne lorries.

In Holborn, TfL have chosen to do exactly the same thing.

The safe (and illegal!) route for cyclists travelling from Theobald's Rd to Oxford Street is to travel down the contra-flow bus lane on Vernon Pl then Bloomsbury Way (pictured on googlemaps below). There is a 20mph limit here, little room to overtake and the buses are often slowing to stop at bus-stops, so cyclists are (by London's laughable standards) relatively safe.

View Larger Map

However, TfL and the Metropolitan Police force those choosing to travel by bike (and thus creating space for others on the tube etc.) to take a four-lane gyratory route through Holborn instead, fining those Londoners (like myself) who put safety first and actively avoid roads on which they could very well be killed.

Excellent illustration courtesy of Andy Waterman
As Andy Waterman explains about the route which TfL and Boris Johnson currently force cyclists to use:
"Going round involves dropping onto Holborn and negotiating four lanes of traffic. I've done it every day since [almost being fined for taking the safe route] and it makes even me, an experienced cyclist nervous. Motorbikes buzz you, taxis rush red lights to get through and huge trucks obliterate the view. It's hellish."
Today, another Londoner has died because not only have TfL consistently failed to build a safe cycle network through Central London, they have made it against the law to use the only relatively non-lethal route that exists.

I very much hope that TfL are prosecuted for manslaughter, both for the three Londoners killed on the Cycle "SuperHighway" 2, but also for this latest, avoidable, needless, tragic death.

In response, the London Cycling Campaign are holding a Protest Ride tomorrow (Tuesday 16 July) at 6.30pm starting at Russell Square.

If you are reading this, you really should attend.

Current plans for development of both Aldgate, Bayswater, and Haymarket include plans for virtually no segregated cycle lanes whatsoever, despite tens of millions of pounds being spent on each of these schemes and a TfL 'Cycling Vision' budget that is near £1 billion. It's a complete lie to say there isn't the money to make our roads safe for cycling. The authorities just need to stop designing them in ways that freely mix cyclists and lorries.

Unless you want to be the next Londoner to be crushed under the wheels of an HGV, you need to make it clear to the Mayoralty and local authorities that forcing cyclists to share 'general traffic lanes' with lethal and deadly motor traffic is no longer good enough.

2000 Londoners rode through Aldgate last Friday to protest at a lack of #space4cycling.
Boris Johnson's response: absolutely nothing. And another Londoner killed as a direct result of London's road design on Monday morning. Grim.


  1. I agree completely with the need for more safe space for cyclists in London. Too many of the current cycle routes are unsafe and unfit for purpose as you quite rightly point out, e.g. Cycle "SuperHighway" 2. Nobody should have to mix with HGVs and heavy traffic on something that is sold as being designed specifically for safe and fast journeys for cyclists. We have seen the tragic results. I want more safe, continuous and direct cycle routes that anyone can use, and I will continue to support the bloggers/campaigners asking for change. Keep up the pressure people.
    Until these routes are put in place may I also suggest an alternative to the illegal and legitimate routes you highlight above. Perhaps a diversion via Russell Square may be more appropriate -,-0.120292&spn=0.022136,0.038581

  2. My thoughts, one hour before the latest killing, as I was watching the hundreds of people riding West on Theobald's Road:

    "How can TfL ignore this? People on bikes are the great majority here, and yet they have to manoeuvre around lorries, buses, taxis as the road reaches pinch points, which totally neglect the safety of cyclists. These are normal Londoners and they deserve better."

  3. The are not one, not two, but at least three terrifying moments on the green route:
    1. Procter Street
    2. High Holborn, before the lights, where the killing took place
    3. High Holborn, before the junction with New Oxford Street, when most of motor vehicle go left and cyclists go right (and if you position yourself on the right from the traffic lights with Kingsway, you better have good nerves, as driver beep at you and undertake with 10cm to spare)

  4. I ride through the Holborn gyratory every day and it's probably the scariest part of my journey. If the police would only enforce the two advanced stop lines, especially the first one, it would be transformed without the need for any separate lanes (like the ones to the North in Camden that don't work at all). Instead the only police enforcement I've experienced is them stopping cyclists using that bus lane, or safely jumping lights to get ahead of the lorries. The answer isn't necessarily more hardware.