Cyclist Dies In Lorry Collision As Fines Mooted For HGVs

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There have been two collisions involving cyclists and HGVs this week – one, at Tower Bridge on Tuesday, left the cyclist “serious but stable” while the other, in Dulwich on Wednesday morning, left a woman in her 30s dead. [Edit: actually, there were two collisions between cyclists and lorries on Tuesday. A man was trapped under a lorry for 30 minutes on Great Eastern Street.]

Also on Wednesday, the Mayor announced new action to make HGVs safer for cyclists. Many lorries are already fitted with safety features like sidebars and low skirts but construction HGVs are exempt from these laws. Alongside the Transport Minister, Boris Johnson wants to introduce a fine for commercial vehicles entering London that don’t meet safety standards. But don’t get too excited yet – this isn’t a done deal, all that’s actually been announced is a consultation starting early next year. They are not able, as the Mayor said on last night’s The Last Leg, to “insist” on it right now.

(Aside: on The Last Leg the Mayor also ‘did a Laura Trott‘ and angered cyclists by saying “sometimes cyclists are themselves guilty” in accidents; incredibly insensitive given that a family is mourning the loss of a loved one not 24 hours dead. And then Boris compounded his foot-in-mouth syndrome by saying that “not even Hitler used chemical weapons” before remembering, you know, Zyklon B and clarifying with “against Allied troops”, leaving incredulous host Adam Hills to remark “there is an argument to say that he did use chemicals at some point”.)

The City Hall press release on the HGV consultation notes that between 2008 and 2012, lorries were involved in 53% of cyclist deaths in London, despite making up only 4% of the traffic. Of the seven cyclists that have died on the roads this year, five were in incidents involving HGVs – a situation where no helmet will protect you. So when this consultation launches, make sure you make your voice heard.

Photo of Monday’s Space for Cycling ride by Zefrog from the Londonist Flickr pool

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  • Peter Bailey

    Would be interested to know how lorries kill cyclists so I can make sure I don’t make the same mistakes.

    • http://londonist.com/ Rachel Holdsworth

      As I understand it, it tends to be lorries turning left, hitting a cyclist and dragging them under the wheels. Really nasty stuff.

  • JL

    Sorry, but what’s wrong with saying that some cyclists are reckless? Anyone who has ridden in London knows that there are a large number of dangerous and reckless cyclists that have little respect for other riders, drivers and the rules of the road….

    • http://londonist.com/ Rachel Holdsworth

      For context, Boris’s “some cyclists” comment was a slight clarification after a generalisation about cyclists jumping red lights. When we hear about a car crash, there isn’t the same instinct to talk about “yeah, but car drivers never look where they’re going, I see them speeding all the time”. Some do, some don’t; but we don’t have the same narrative for cars as we do cyclists. There seems to be a rash of victim blaming when it comes to cyclists being killed, as though a cyclist (or five cyclists this year) is likely to see a massive truck and think “yeah, I’ll go head to head with that”.

      • JL

        There’s no smoke without fire though; if proportionally as many drivers jumped red lights, undertook and pulled out at unsuitable moments, I’m sure they’d have a similarly unsympathetic stereotype – I’ve committed FAR more traffic violations as a cyclist than I have as a motorist and I challenge any cyclist to claim any differently.

        I’ve seen hundreds of cyclists ride up the inside of junctions when lights are green and I’ve been hit twice by cyclists whilst I wait for a car/truck/bus to turn left in front of me (they assume I’m going to ride up the inside). This is 50% about poor road layout (and I was on Monday’s ‘Space for Cycling’ protest) and 50% about proper education and enforcement of the rules of the road for cyclists.

        • sarah

          i’ve seen drivers jump red lights in the west end, ignore zebra crossings, go through green men. the road traffic casualty rates don’t show that cyclists cause proportionally more accidents than car/lorry drivers too.
          Also, i’ve had drivers beep at me for riding in the traffic rather than dangerously staying next to the kerb where i could get squashed. many cyclists die due to being intimidated by motorists

          • JL

            Absolutely agree that space and awareness is a key issue – no-one should feel intimidated on the road and that is part of why Space for Cycling is only the start of the necessary mindshift.

            I’m not supporting motorists at all, just compare how many cyclists you see on the way home doing stupid things compared to motorists.

            And of course cyclists don’t cause as many casualties as cars do; that’s obvious. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t abide by the same rules of the road and respect other cyclists, pedestrians and road users.

          • Johnny Brolly

            Last week I was stood handing out lea

        • Jonn Elledge

          When driving I have never had another vehicle drive in a manner intended to push me off the road or into the path of another vehicle, simply because they were annoyed I was sharing their road space. As a cyclist this happens fairly frequently.

          • JL

            Yep – fully agree that there needs to be either an acceptance of shared road space or more/better space for cycling. Either one would probably result in safer roads for all. Unfortunately, bad cycling and bad driving will always persist but hopefully the reciprocal aggression between road users will decrease with the improvements being lobbied for.

          • Luce

            Agree entirely on all the comments above about how cyclists seem to get a bad reputation for being careless when it’s not the case. I started cycling in January, I never ever jump lights and in the time I’ve been cycling I’ve seen cars do horrendous things. In Stockwell a few months ago a motorist kept revving his engine at a red light until it was green, got annoyed that I was slower on a bike, pulled out around me and then pulled back in twice on purpose to block my way whilst swearing and telling me to get off the road. You may think this is an exceptional case but I’ve seen so many cars do similar if not to myself then to others, and what about all the cars that pull into the cycling box and are meant to get fined for doing so? Never heard of that ever happening!

        • BethPH

          Any discussion about cycling safety invariably descends into finger-pointing along the lines of ‘cyclists do X’, ‘yebbut motorists do X too’ which isn’t helpful to anyone. Nor is the hostility of cyclists towards motorists and vice versa.

          I don’t think anyone at all has said that cyclists who are knocked off must have done something wrong or are to blame for the failings of other cyclists. JL is correct that poor road layout contributes to collisions as much as dangerous riding/driving – the cycle path on the Bethnal Green Road is a testament to this – the end of the lane meets the road at a pinch point at an angle to moving traffic. Visibility is also obscured by parking bays. It’s utterly insane and probably a matter of time before someone is hit rejoining the road.

          I also think that some cyclists don’t necessarily realise that driving in London is equally bad – poor road layout, poor signage, potholes, people stepping out into the road without looking, bad drivers, trying to avoid falling foul of enforcement cameras for junctions and bus lanes, you really do need to have your wits about you and I’m often astonished that there aren’t more accidents. Chuck in a large number of cyclists who don’t need to stay in a particular lane and it becomes ridiculously dangerous. I think the assumption is that London’s roads favour motorists – they don’t. They favour pretty much no-one.

          • Nicolas Chinardet

            Even if we accept the possibility that some accidents are due to reckless behaviour on the part of the cyclists (and they are bound to be in some cases. The Met’s figures for Westminster show that cyclists are to blame in at least 20% of accident, while its in 68% of cases for motorists http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-22408573), there remains the fact that lorries are disproportionately involved in fatal accidents. Doesn’t that imply that there is indeed a problem with the way lorries use London roads?

            And comments like that those of Freight Trade Association are certainly not helpful. http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/freight-association-declares-war-on.html

          • BethPH

            Yeah, I saw that too and thought it was particularly unhelpful. I find it surprising that they’re not being a bit more accommodating.

          • Mondez

            Of course they’re disproportionally involved with fatal accidents, because they are massive and will no doubt be involved in a fatality, should they be in a collision.
            Why do people insist on turning a blind eye to the fact that far too many cyclists cycle along the left hand side of lorries? Yes the cycle lane is there, but use your brain and stay well back from any HGV that happens to be in front of you. As for junctions, I believe if a cyclist slowed right down just in case someone turns left, then they are prepared to stop in case they get cut up by a motorist.

          • Nicolas Chinardet

            But cars are potentially just as big and dangerous against an unprotected human body.

          • Mondez

            Agreed, but there is still a much higher chance of survival when involved in a collision with a car than a lorry, hence lorries being involved in a large amount of fatalities. If a cyclist simply keeps their distance from a HGV then these fatalities wouldn’t happen half as much

          • Nicolas Chinardet

            I think we are in danger of blaming the victims again here…

          • alan r

            Well someone is the cause of it. Even victims cannot be blameless if found to be at fault

          • Alan r

            This is a big key point. And why are a lot of women doing this? The government and mayor have unleashed a huge untrained monster onto our roads and are now suffering the result of that. You cannot keep blaming motorists only. Cyclists need to show down at junctions and engage brain to assess what is happening or might happen. When I hear a lorry has run over a cyclist I ask what the hell was the cyclist doing in that position in the first place? I think cyclist should be trained like all other road users, high VI’s helmets compulsory. A small £10 licence fee which cover insurance and id to use the road. Unique I’d number to be pinned to back and front of rider at all times.