Mayor of London denies junction improvements are key to increasing cyclist safety

Today London's Mayor Boris Johnson questioned the wisdom of redesigning the city's worst junctions, despite two recent cyclist fatalities at junctions where campaigners had warned of road danger. 

We wrote to TfL in February 2011 to highlight dangers to cyclists at the Bow roundabout when we saw the lack of facilities proposed for the Superhighway that crosses the junction where cyclist Brian Dorling was killed last month.

Similarly, local campaigners highlighted dangers at the Kings Cross one-way system, where cyclist Min Joo Lee was also killed in October 2011.

Cyclist fatalities in Camden and Clapham (Paula Jurek and Johannah Bailey respectively) were also preceded by warnings that the junctions where the crashes took place were dangerous to vulnerable road users. 

Describing his lack of faith in junction redesign, the Mayor said in the London Assembly, “If we can do anything ameliorate the junction you describe; if that would really address the problem, then of course we’ll look at it. But sometimes, I don’t think that interventions… that physical streetworks are the answer.”

In a press release published during Mayor’s Questions, Transport for London highlighted very welcome measures it is taking to reduce the danger from large lorries, following a productive dialogue with us and other stakeholders. 

The news includes the developments that TfL contractors will now need a full set of safety mirrors and side sensors on their lorries, and will have to be members of FORS, the best-practice road hauliers scheme.

Seven of the 15 London cyclist fatalities in 2011 have involved HGVs.

We've consistently campaigned for improved lorry safety features and cyclist-awareness training for all lorry drivers. 

However, the TfL announcement around its Cycle Safety Action Plan has done nothing to convince cyclists that London’s worst junctions must be redesigned to reduce danger.

This Saturday (12 November 2011), a protest ride organised by leading London cycling bloggers and supported by us will visit the 10 worst junctions in Greater London to highlight the need for them to be redesigned to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said, “Does the Mayor really not believe in redesigning bad junctions?

“If that’s the case, why commission recent junction improvements at Piccadilly, New Cross Gate [Kender Street], Mansion House, Elephant & Castle [southern roundabout] and Whitechapel [Cambridge Heath]?

“None of these works were  done to speed traffic flow; quite the opposite, returning one-way streets to two-way and taking out roundabouts are measures we welcome to reduce speeds and increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians - part of the long journey towards creating a more liveable London.

“This asks the serious question as to why the Mayor thinks it is a good idea to improve junctions at some places, but not at London’s 10 most dangerous locations?”

“Is the answer that traffic speed is more important to the Mayor than the safety of vulnerable road users?”

The Mayor and TfL recently rejected a scheme to redesign the northern roundabout at the Elephant & Castle because it would adversely affect traffic flow. 

Elephant & Castle has frequently been named as Greater London’s most dangerous junction for cyclists.

Replies

That's nuts. Boris is just plain wrong. 

Dutch-style junctions with cycle lanes and cycle lights eliminate HGV left hooks by design, for a start. 

  • By Austen at 9:25pm 9 November 2011

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

Boris fumbles while cyclists die.  

Typical politician, avoiding the direct questions, using manipulation by avoidance and aggressive accusation.

Boris - she has a point... some of the junction mentioned I use on a daily basis

Blackfriars bridge for example is a danger zone at the moment, the roadworks mean that the cycle lane on the east side of the bridge is regularly closed, and the sign informing cyclists of the closure of the cycle lane is unforgivingly left in the middle of the cycle lane after a blind corner, forcing cyclists to stop and wait for a gap in the traffic to share a narror single lane with other traffic right on a corner that many vehicles tend to cut leaving even experienced cyclists in dangerous positions. On the West side the cycle filter lane has recently been pulled out which encourages traffic turning left to cut the corner making it very difficult for cyclists to use this route. Why take away a perfectly good safety seperator that allows cyclists to take the corners without risking their necks.

  • By smsm1 at 8:19am 10 November 2011

Has Boris ever cycled in the Netherlands?

When it comes to car parking charges in Westminster, he can't move fast enough to quash them!

What are LCC doing to educate cyclists to cycle more safely in regard to HGV's?  Boris made that point in his speech, but yet again that seems to be ignored in this article by the LCC.  Surely that angle needs to be addressed AS WELL as the measures referred to here. 

 

This post was edited by Lotti2011 at 8:28am 12 November 2011.

  • By Pedro at 2:57pm 12 November 2011

Let me first say that I am very sorry that cyclists have been killed or injured. I am a driver and dread that I might, one day, have an incident with a cyclist. I also used to be a cyclist around 30 years ago.

One way of increasing cyclist safety would be to encourage cyslists to cycle sensibly, with respect for other road users, including pedestrians, and also for the law. As a driver I know that many cyclists think they have a special right to ride on the road, or pavement, without any respect for anybody else, let alone the law or the Highway Code. These cyclists are a danger to themselves and to others. Whilst I, as a driver, am watching to see what a cyclist might do, because their lawlessness makes them unpredictable, I am distracted and so an accident might happen because of that.

Let's encourage responsible cycling by changing things so that cyclists are required to take a test and have a license and third party insurance. Make them wear a tabard which displays their personal license number. And why we are at it, let's please stop demonising drivers. Drivers are traceable and accountable. Cyclists, currently, are not, unless, of course, they are involved in an accident where they are injured, or worse.

I hope that my post does not cause offence, that is not my intention. But I do think, as things stand and with the number of cyclists increasing all the time, we have to be sensible and something has to change.

 

This post was edited by Pedro at 9:44pm 12 November 2011.

  • By paul at 11:06pm 12 November 2011

Pedro : A DTp study found that :

"With adult cyclists, police found the driver solely responsible in about 60%-75% of all cases, and riders solely at fault 17%-25% of the time."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/dec/15/cycling-bike-accidents-study

Actually no-one is demonising drivers - just asking for infrastructure where the inevitable mistakes that we all make is less likely to lead to tragic consequences.

Paul, interesting statistics, thanks for posting.  

The statistic does not negate or reduce the need to tackle this issue with cyclists, it makes tackling it more important.

Everyday on any cycling journey you can see cyclists taking risks that puts themselves & others in danger, some i think in full awareness of what they are doing and other's who just don't seem to be aware of what is going on around them.  

It's dissapointing that this seems to take such a small place in LCC's efforts to increase cycle safety.

  • By lmjhoney at 10:49am 13 November 2011

Typical disingenous over confidence and then without actualy addressing the issue goes on the attack with no good reason.

I cycle every day and have for 35 years, it gets more dangerous every year. I now avoid cycling in town and try only to use the side roads because it is very dangerous on the roads.

This idiocy does not help the cycling needs of our capital, indeed it makes it worse.

And dont get me started on the completely useless, dangerous and misconceved Cycle Super Hiways.

Grrr.

  • By Pedro at 12:16am 15 November 2011

If the figure is 17% to 25% where the cyclist was solely at fault, then that needs to be reduced. I used to cycle from Dulwich to Kensington 30 years ago and I always carried lights in the dark, never ran red lights and always obeyed the Highway Code. I assumed that if I did not act responsibly in these ways I could come to grief, and it would be my fault, and I could attract the attention of the Police. Cycling was dangerous then but is more so now. As a driver, I see cyclists flouting the law all the time. As an example, you try spotting, as a driver, a cyclist coming towards you on the outside and in the wet and dark with no lights. All you will see is a stream of car headlights. I just think things would be safer and people would respect each other more if there was some regulation, as I have outlined. As it is, cyclists are effectively above the law and that makes it dangerous for them and others. Just a thought. That said, am thinking of getting a bike myself.

  • By Hardy at 7:07pm 15 November 2011

I don't agree with Ashok Sinha that the two way scheme necessarily improves safety for cyclists although I know that this was its original intention.  In my opinion the new cycling arrangements at the north end of St James' street are an accident waiting to happen with a 1m wide cycle lead-in lane between two fast moving lanes of traffic.  I have contacted Westminster Council about this and they have referred me back to TFL who have not replied so far.

Also I think that the two way scheme on Piccadilly has missed an opportunity to join the southbound Bond Street cycle lane to the new southbound lane on St James' street.  Already I am seeing cyclist riding over the pavement and making an illegal left turn into St James' street and the junction has only just opened.  If the planning of the new junction had considered cyclists this could have been avoided.

Talking about dangerous roundabouts and junctions, what about Kings Cross? I have seen two major cycling accidents within a month right outside the station, one at the junction with York Way which led to a fatality and one a wee bit further down the Euston Road where the Post Office is.  I now work in this area quite a lot and don't want to use my bicycle.

It seems to me that the main fault in roundabout and giratory design is that there are special cycle routes for only a proportion of the way through and then one is thrown right back into the main traffic flow again. Plus it can take you four or more halts  at the special cycle traffic lights to cross from one side to another (look at Hyde Park corner) which leads to many cyclists simply ignoring the special routes and hurling themselves into the oncoming vehicles.  I've done it myself!

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