Serious crash on Hammersmith Bridge prompts cyclists to organise 'calm the bridge' protest ride

A shocking crash that left a young female cyclist pinned against the side of Hammersmith Bridge by a car has prompted local campaigners to organise a 'calm the bridge' protest bike ride there on Saturday 2 June 2012.

Members of Hammersmith & Fulham Cycling Campaign, Wandsworth Cycling Campaign and Merton Cycling Campaign plan to calm all bridge traffic between 10.30am and 12.30pm, using groups of cyclists to reduce the speed of motor vehicles and prevent overtaking.

The crash took place at lunchtime on Monday 28 May, and two cars collided as one tried to overtake a young female cyclist who was out riding with her parents.

The victim was lucky to escape death or serious injury when after ending up pinned to one of the bridge supports by a car that had tried to overtake her.

The London Cycling Campaign and local campaigners have been calling on all central London bridges to be made safer for cycling, with 20mph speed limits a top priority.

H&F Cycling Campaign's John Griffiths said, "If you're cycling at 10-15mph and there's a car or a van trying to squeeze past, it can be very threatening for less experienced riders who can't keep up with the traffic.

"The fact that so many cyclists go on the footpaths instead of the road shows there's a serious problem here."

A survey conducted by H&F Cycling Campaign found that over two-thirds of people would be more confident cycling over the bridge if there was a 20mph limit.

A report from Transport for London, uncovered by LCC in 2008, found strong evidence that implementing 20mph limits on central London's bridges would save lives, with the measure in many instances paying for itself via the reduced costs associated with serious and fatal crashes.

Further evidence from TfL has shown that on many central London bridges cyclists now outnumber other vehicles during peak hours.

Father calls for "radical change" on Hammersmith Bridge

At about 1:30pm on Monday 28 May 2012, Hammersmith & Fulham residents Alexis Vergez and his wife and 18-year-old daughter were cycling south across Hammersmith Bridge, heading for the Thames Path on the south of the river, which was their regular route to Kew Gardens.

According to Mr Vergez, a silver car accelerated to overtake his daughter on the narrow bridge, and crashed head on into a red car coming in the opposite direction.

Witnesses claim the red car crossed the central reservation, forcing the other driver into the path of the cyclist.

Mr Vergez said, "Why was this silver car overtaking my daughter on the bridge?

"There should not only be a 20mph limit, but signs to tell vehicles they're not allowed to overtake a person on a bike - there's simply not enough space.

"I've never felt comfortable riding on this bridge even though I'm a confident cyclist who rides every day to work.

"This bridge is too dangerous for cars and bikes to share unless something radical is done about it.

"When my daughter was a toddler, we used to cross the bridge via the pavement, but we reverted to the road about 10 years ago, having been told off by too many angry pedestrians."

Replies

Same as Tower bridge at its pinch points. Mind you tower bridge is wide enough to have a proper cycle lane if they used some of the pavement.

There's not enough room to overtake a cyclists safely on Hammersmith Bridge due to the double white line anyway so you're right there should be clear no overtaking signs.

  • By markyjl at 02:30pm 31 May 2012

It's the same for most bridges. Battersea Bridge is a distaster waiting to happen - someone will be seriously injured or killed there. Very narrow with metal barriers to protect pedestrians that are lethal for cyclists. I often see cars overtaking cyclists leaving no room and cyclists trying to squueze through dangerous gaps next to the barriers. It's a regular occurrance to see bus drivers driver inches behind a cyclist.

I'm an experienced cyclists and wouldn't dare ride over Battersea Bridge, if I did I would tahe the centre of the lane and not let any one pass me and not try to over take other vehicles.

What's annoying is that despite the recent 18 month refurbishment of the Albert Bridge there isn't a separate lane for cyclists. Plenty of room for one in both directions. But no, cycling across was clearly not considered. And of course the other river crossing at this point, Chelsea Bridge, which is part of CS8, the problems for that are well documented.

  • By James at 02:33pm 31 May 2012

From the photograph, the signs for no overtaking are in place by means of double unbroken white lines on the central part of the road. Agree that clear signage needs to be in place warning drivers of Cyclists and NO overtaking. A 20 MPH Max for any London Bridge would always be a benefit for both cyclists and traffic movement. Not sure how a cycle lane can be easily implemented on Tower Bridge by taking over some of the pavement as the 'pinch points' are still very narrow.

Sad to hear the report of the young lady and glad she didnt suffer serious injury. Just hope her confidence will resume in due course - keep cycling !!!

Solid white lines don't *exactly* mean no overtaking - see http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_070306

129

Double white lines where the line nearest you is solid. This means you MUST NOT cross or straddle it unless it is safe and you need to enter adjoining premises or a side road. You may cross the line if necessary, provided the road is clear, to pass a stationary vehicle, or overtake a pedal cycle, horse or road maintenance vehicle, if they are travelling at 10 mph (16 km/h) or less.

Obviously 'if the road is clear' is the clue to whether it should be attempted (in the absence of common sense and courtesy..)

It is the attitudinal mentality of motorists that will make the real difference to cyclists' safety. I do support the "Go Dutch" campaign so as to encourage more people to cycle, but what we need are drivers to show more courtesy to cyclists than they otherwise do.

The Highway Code points out that you give way / space to the vulnerable road user. Point 122 is headed "General Advice" and states "you must not drive without reasonable consideration for other road users". Point 125 says "Be considerate". and so on and so on.

Well done, John, for organising the protest.

 

 

 

Well done to John Griffiths, of H&F cyclists, for organising the demo on H'smith Bridge today. Picked up by BBC London travel news 1hr 28 min 23 seconds into the programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/p00sssv6

Background to the protest was how on the 28th May an 18yr old girl was overtaken by a car on the bridge (the road on the bridge has double white lines). The overtaking car met an oncoming car and swerved into the gril trapping her against the support pillars of the bridge. She escaped with cuts and grazes. The girl's father was on the demo. The girl then joined the demo at the end overcome with emotion by seeing 40 - 50 protesting in support of her. Very moving.
  • By paul at 11:54am 03 Jun 2012

I wonder what the effect would be of restricting the carriageway to 3m each side between kerbs - ie making overtaking a physical impossibility. Obviously combined with 20mph limit. (large vehicles would have to go slowly to fit)

I live and work relatively close to Hammersmith bridge and am well aware of the problems cyclists face when crossing it. I am (still!) a fairly fast cyclist, but have always had that uneasy feeling of almost being forced from other traffic behind me to keep up the pace or go faster whilst crossing it. This next statement may upset the younger and more radical amongst us (this patroniing sod has been there/done that!!), but one can understand the frustration of some drivers (and sympathise with the patience of bus drivers!) when a cyclist is pootling along at a leisurely pace (and why not?!) possibly unaware of the traffic build up behind them! I agree with all the above comments and in reading them my mind has gone into solution overdrive!

This may seem very radical (and I would appreciate any feedback on it), but as one cannot expand the width of the bridge - the poor thing has had enough work on her recently to not merit any more attention again for decades! -

How about converting the pedestrian walkway on one side of the bridge to a ONE WAY route for cyclists (with NO ENTRY signs for pedestrians either end) and the walkway on the opposite side being dedicated to PEDESTRIANS ONLY. A mandatory-lined bicycle lane could then be marked out on the road part of the bridge for cyclists cycling in the opposite direction across the bridge. THE BENEFITS. Providing cyclists adhere to the new layout and use the old walkway (this will have to be clearly marked out) and don't cycle the 'wrong way' over the bridge, they will be safely away from cars and buses and won't have to worry about bikes and pedestrians coming the other way along the path. The threat of accidents on the bridge should lessen as vehicles will have more width and cyclists would have comparative safety if they stay within the white line. Traffic flow would be marginally faster over the bridge as there would be little need for overtaking. however legal the latter may be. Pedestrians will also feel less threatened by cyclists on their pavement (and therefore complain less!), but will be a little bit miffed if they are suddenly restricted to just the one pavement when they have been used to having two since the bridge was built! Barmy idea?!?!? It probably won't get past the drawing board and pedestrian/rambling socities will probably put their foot down, but it would be a great experiment!!

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