My 15-year-old nephew was lucky to survive, which is why haulage industry must take action to reduce lorry danger
- By London Cycling Campaign on at 10:09am 22 Jul 2013
- Posted in: Blog
- Tagged with: lorry, HGV, safer lorries, courland street, wandsworth road, Kings Hospital
Those of you who were on the protest ride in Holborn last week might have heard my speech in Lincoln's Inn Fields where I spoke about the shock of finding out that my brilliant 15-year-old nephew Guy Gibson (pictured above) had been knocked off his bike by a lorry the previous week.
The crash happened on the Friday afternoon, just hours before the first protest ride in Aldgate East to remember Philippine de Gerin Ricard, who was killed there by a lorry.
My nephew Guy had just started his school holidays and was cycling along Wandsworth Road, minding his own business.
He lives in Clapham and bikes to Clapham Junction every day to get a train to his school in Croydon, so he is a very experienced cyclist.
As he approached Courland Street, a lorry came up behind him and as it overtook him, suddenly turned left across his path, oblivious of the fact that he was driving straight into into Guy’s bike – and Guy.
The front-left wheel of the lorry crushed the front wheel of Guy’s bike (see photo above) throwing Guy to the pavement with such force that his pelvis was broken in two places.
The driver of the lorry, an 18-tonne truck delivering to a local shop, had no idea he'd hit Guy, and only stopped when alerted by passers-by.
Although he's in King’s Hospital with serious injuries, Guy is being incredibly brave and positive.
When the hospital cleaner came into his ward and heard why he was there she said, "Well that’s the last time you get on your bike, isn’t it?"
Guy disagreed straightaway, "Of course not. I’ll be straight back on my bike as soon as I'm better."
Of course, the fact is that Guy was incredibly lucky, and he's clearly more plucky than many of us, who might well have decided that cycle journey might have been our last.
What's frustrating is that lorry crashes are avoidable...
Above all, we must improve our street design to separate bikes and lorries on busy roads and junctions, and make smaller roads.
That was the message of our #space4cycling protest rides last week, which thousands supported.
We can also improve training for drivers so they're more likely to look out for cyclists, and equip their lorries with the latest technology to make seeing cyclists (and pedestrians) easier.
That's what we've campaigned for in our 'Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling' campaign - with on-bike cyclist-awareness training now becoming mainstream.
But we must look at other measures too, learning from the lower numbers of cycling-related deaths caused by lorries in cities like Paris and Dublin.
The Mayor Boris Johnson must study the experience of cities such as Paris and Dublin, where daytime lorry restrictions seem to have been effective in reducing the numbers of deaths and serious injuries.
Currently, in London lorries weighing more than 18 tonnes are restricted between 9pm and 7am from Monday to Saturdays and from 1pm to 7am on Sundays.
This lorry ban was put in place years ago to reduce night-time noise pollution, but with today's technology allowing for quieter lorries isn't it time to review these restrictions?
Redesigning our city streets to be truly cycle-friendly will take time, so the haulage industry must take action now to stop more cycling deaths (and near misses).
Reducing the number of lorries on our roads at peak times could well be part of that solutions.