Man dies cycling through "notorious" Elephant & Castle southern roundabout after lorry collision

A man has died after being in a collision with a lorry while cycling through the southern roundabout at Elephant & Castle roundabout in South London.

He's the fifth person known to die cycling in Greater London omn 2014.

There's no indication at the moment what happened, including the cause or what direction the cyclist or lorry came from in the moments leading up to the collision.

LCC's Charlie Lloyd said, "Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of the man who died today. This whole area is notorious for the serious danger it presents to people on bicycles because of the high volumes of lorries and other motor vehicles that pass through here. 

"What's evident to anyone who visits the area or looks at the photos is there is a huge amount of space here, and yet no decision has been taken by transport planners to provide any protected space for cycling where the crash happened.

"Forcing people on bicycles to jockey for position with HGVs and other fast-moving motor traffic massively increases the risk of fatalities and life-changing injuries. This whole area should be redesigned with the safety of cycling made paramount."

Even though the roundabout at the southern end of the Elephant & Castle junction was removed in late 2010 in an attempt to make the area better for cycling and walking, the signalled T-junction that replaced it included no protected lanes or safe passage for cycling.

The entire Elephant & Castle area has the highest collision rates for cycling, including one of the worst fatality records, of any location in Greater London.

The fatal crash took place around 4pm, and witnesses have described an air ambulance attending the scene and medical teams attempting to treat the man, but he died at the scene.

fatality at Elephant and Castle

An hour after the crash what looked like a body covered by a tarpaulin could still be seen lying in the road, with a mangled black bike nearby.

Hundreds of shocked passers-by, including pupils from nearby schools, made their way around the police cordon, which closed the entire southern roundabout.

Inside the cordon, a 26-tonne three-axle rigid lorry was parked in the middle of the street; the lorry carried the insignia of a logistics firm based in Telford, Shropshire.

According to Transport for London figures, 1500 people on bicycles pass through the southern roundabout during the morning peak hour, with that number expected to reach 2000 per hour by 2016 at current rates of increase.

A cycling bypass provides an indirect route around one side of junction, but is too narrow to handle the volume of cycling traffic that regularly uses this route. 

Transport for London recently put plans to improve the cycling provision at the northern Elephant & Castle roundabout out for consultation, but LCC found the proposed cycle tracks were inadequate for the predicted volumes of bicycle traffic.

Furthermore, the TfL plan would not have any effect on the southern junction where today's fatality took place, dealing only with the roads further north.

The Big Ride: Saturday 17 May in central London

This Saturday's Space for Cycling Big Ride (details here) A fun event with a very serious message: that all London's streets should be designed so they're safe and inviting for everyone to cycle.

Please join us at Park Lane from 11am (for midday start) to show all politicians that Londoners demand safe cycling provision across the city.


  • By Dave H at 7:23am 14 May 2014

One observation, which I maintain was a key factor in a recent death at Bow, is that the hazard of 2 vehicles/road users being on a collision course at junctions like this has the risk managed solely by relying on the compliance of all road users with traffic signals, and the time interval management regime can often (as at Bow) allow just a couple of seconds of advance start time for cyclists, or similarly short elements to get vehicles clear of the 'cycle-box'

At Bow this safer by timing regime is regularly undermined by motor vehicles running red lights, or stationary traffic preventing those with a green light from moving off. In one video clip the green light for cyclists to proceed is clearly visible ... through the windows of the bus that drove through the red light well after the signal required the driver to stop, blocking the green light phase for over 3 seconds.

It would be very interesting to see how the safety by time interval regime does or does not deliver something fit for purpose here.

In my book the only answer of managing this, with increasing volumes of various types of traffic is, as it is with the railway, and major flows of motor traffic, grade separation. Given that the road here only needs to rise 3-4 metres, and there are no junctions other then the 3 main road branches, and only bus stops requiring kerbside access.  The width and complexity of lanes could be trimmed and a cable-stayed viaduct could carry the motor traffic clear of a wide 'park' below, replacing much of that heat focussing paving with grass and trees, and revealing the Neckinger River which flows beneath that lot, to provide local climate management and direct drainage.  

Building an overpass would certainly provide the separation of bicycle and motor traffic that ensures safety for cyclists, but whether it would actually make the area 'nicer' is debatable. Flyovers are often an ugly and domineering presence, expensive to build, and do little to address the root problem of London's urban areas, which is too much motor traffic. 

Transport for London should be looking at the rapidly increasing bicycle traffic passing through this junction (increasing 15% annually, according to its own figures), and realising this traffic can replace a significant proportion of the motor traffic journeys (single-occupancy cars and taxis, for example), giving planners much greater scope to design an area that genuinely favours cycling and walking.

In my opinion we don't need more roads infrastructure (although exposing the river seems a nice idea) we need less traffic. So you build flyovers and then what? The traffic jams move up the road a bit.

We are begining to win that battle.

Elephant and CAstle is big enough to have segregated lanes and as the number of cyclists increases the lanes can widen.

Jon Davies

P.S. There is a reason the E and C by-pass was one of the first major cycle schemes in London and the problem has not gone away.


  • By Dave H at 9:55am 14 May 2014

Jon                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   In building viaduct you also reduce the road from current vastness of confusing lanes at same time, and possibly remove some of the right (and left) turns.

During the construction phase some traffic will 'evaporate' and the new layout can be sized down for less traffic when completed

I live just around the corner from here and it is desperately sad when you see that this has happened. The roundabout, in my opinion, is one of the worst cycling areas in London, along with Waterloo bridge when cars can park in the cycle lane....I actually can't believe that..

For me there are three clear solutions to this problem;

-ban HGVs during rush hour times (not only are they a physical danger, they also make me jump when they are revving behind me (usually to hurry me up or to intimidate me) and I have nearly fallen off my bike multiple times!)

-segregate cycling from the traffic with their own road (with a barrier and SPACE!)

-give the cyclists the opportunity to set off before traffic at lights!.

At the moment the boris super high way actually takes people down a very car safe route, but as its much slower many cyclists avoid it - maybe there needs to be education for this route out there? I didn't know about it until someone recommended it to me whilst we were edging around the roundabout after a previous crash. 

Desperately sad, I hope they find the reason why this happened and make changes suitably. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the man who died yesterday



  • By phufbl at 3:52pm 14 May 2014

This is tragic, and although I don't know the details of this collision it is quite obvious that the Elephant and Castle area is dangerous and intimidating to cycle around.

I cycle through Elephant and Castle once a week and about 90% of the time I use the bypass, which I think is much safer. The main problem with the bypass is that it is slower and requires multiple stops at lights when trying to cross the main roads, and this makes it very tempting to just use the main road especially if you are in a rush.

There are a couple of points on the bypass route where you are stopped at a red light which seems to be controlled by a sensor to sense that there is a cyclist waiting and which should make the light turn, but most of the time I just end up crossing the road when there is no traffic as I am sure the sensor has not detected me and I could be sat waiting all night otherwise.

Condolences to the riders family.

HGV's design probably won't be changing until 2025 due to lobbying. And it won't affect existing trucks anyway. We need windows cut all around the cabs *now*. With all drivers on *compulsory* cycle training immediately and regularly.

Maidstoneonbike has already done a great design for E&C, and it would also seem to be a good candidate for a 'Hovenring'. Nicer, and more direct, elevated cycling and walking alike. With an aesthetic spiral ramp down to the 'public square' in the middle. And a Dutch bike parking 'Apple' connected to the station and ring at multiple levels, inc lift.

Even include restoring that river as they did in Seoul, Korea.

This post was edited by mikeybikey at 8:54pm 16 May 2014.

I really can't see how someone has made a T-junction so complicated! At the moment vehicles have to pass through 2 or 3 sets of lights to go straight on, and pedestrians have to cross twice to get over 1 road.


The best way to improve this junction would be to remove the pedestrian refuges (who ever wants to cross half a road anyway?!), tighten the angles to reduce traffic speed, put in protected cycle lanes and add a 'simultaneous green' lights phase for bikes after EVERY motor vehicle phase (not once per cycle of lights). Make it a simple light-controlled T-junction. It would make it easier to drive, cycle AND cross on foot.

This makes me so angry. Until recently I cycled passed what looks like the spot of this fatal accident, every working day for 3 years. At this point, if I'm right, the road narrows (going south) and the short cycle lane says :END. You had to be brave and ignore the beeping and take the whole lane so you are not compromised. It was one of about 20 danger spots on my way to work, I'm so glad I dont have to do that route anymore. 

After the public outcry last year nothing significant has changed, Boris's solution was to fine over 5000 cyclists when he knows that minor misdemeaners dont usually endanger life. Now he knows what will save lives but refuses to do anything effective about it, does this neglect not amount to manslaughter? 

I live near Enfield but work in Wimbledon. I ride from home to Waterloo Station where I take a SW Train to Wimbledon. This method speeds the journey in to work but keeps costs down to a cheap single ticket per day. Coming home I ride the whole distance from Wimbledon to Enfield.

I average 156 miles a week on the bike and experience the whole gamut of London's roads across zones 1-5. I've been doing this 3-4 years now and during this time I've seen almost everything that happens on London's road. So far, I'm still here and fully functioning.

I put this down to good road craft – being aware of what's going on 360 degrees around you, picking a good flowing line along the road ahead of you, anticipating where you need to be and anticipating all other roads users, expecting other road users to do silly things, and also employing common courtesy where necessary. I don't go down the side of buses or trucks, particularly their blind sides.

However, most of the above is irrelevant when you experience how pot-holed, badly maintained, designed, layed out and managed London's roads are, along with the attitude, behaviour, impatience and wrath of a lot of motorists out there. The myth of road tax makes some believe they really own the road to the exclusion of others.

The roads are chaotic and cluttered with architecture and traffic management and calming that actually make them more dangerous, particularly for cyclists. The Boris blue routes are a nonsense – they give riders a false sense of security. The routes are disjointed with blue patches suddenly ending then appearing again in the middle of the road in the full roar of motor vehicles. 

It doesn't matter how much hi-vis you're wearing or how well lit you are, most drivers know you're there and can see you. Many think cyclists have no right to be on the road. Many are impatient and angry that you're in their way. They pull out of side streets in front of you, turn left over you because they can't wait for you to be safely out of their way. If there's something in the middle of the road, many undertake, swerving at you to get round the hold up. Sometimes I wonder what intructors teach learner drivers.

Black cabs are a menace as nothing should get in their way of picking up a fare, making u-turns or pulling across and in front of you without indication or waiting til safe to do so. 

Buses cut in and out of the Boris blue routes forcing you to stop suddenly or forcing you out into oncoming traffic or traffic roaring up behind. Having to share a red route with buses, black cabs and motorbikes is also a challenge.

Trucks – they know you're there – they just try to scare you off the road with their size. The quality of driving drops according to the type of truck – going down from delivery trucks up against timed drop offs, tipper trucks/cement trucks and then skip lorries. There have been many occasions when I feel that a truck driver has tried to drive me off the road. They can see you. They come up behind you. Only by swerving to the curb or bunny hopping on to the pavement has saved me from being dragged under them.

My route takes in Elephant & Castle on my journey home. It's another foot down multi-laned raceway like Vauxhall or any other system round London, where it feels like playing Russian roulette. I approach it from the south on the A3, but now I turn off left before it, using the bike paths and side streets around the back of the London College on the west side of E&C.

Looking at the photos of Tuesday's cyclist fatality and based on a lot of my daily commuting experiences, I can't help thinking that once again, a truck driver has just driven over a cyclist in view to them. It will probably be put down as an accident or the cyclist being in the blind spot or something. The driver will probably get off and continue driving. The cyclist will be another grim statistic.

I shouldn't feel that I'm risking my life or serious injury every time I make a journey by bike on London's roads. There needs to be a reduction of heavy traffic through London. There needs to be more than a patch blue paint or a couple of extra seconds start to save you from motor traffic. London should be a space open to it's residents – they shouldn't be sent fleeing out of the traffic's way.


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