One death is unfortunate Two looks like carelessness (misquoting Lady Bracknell)

This isn't about Bow Roundabout, its about two of the 6 deaths in November this year, and from the briefest of reviews a further 3 deaths going back to 2000, when I watched the truck being driven back along the course it took, to kill a young female cyclist on London Wall.

From all the post-crash pictures, and the road layouts, and what I watched that day in 2000, every one of those fatal crashes involved a large vehicle turning left from a traffic lane which was not on the left side of the carriageway. This is far deadlier than a 'squeeze'-in where the vehicle is generally in the nearside lane, or just slightly pulled to the right. The 'squeeze' at the start of the turn has the large vehicle still moving forward relative to the cyclist, and if the cyclist realises this, braking hard and pulling in to the left gives some hope of escape, especially for a rigid vehicle where there is no trailer taking a tighter line around the corner to push you over and get you with the rear wheels.

When a vehicle turns left from the next lane over, or perhaps even further out from a third lane, other road users, including those in cars can suddenly come face on to a wall of 'vehicle' moving straight across their path.  Look at the post crash pictures from Camberwell and Holborn, and it is very clear that to make the turn the coach and the skip truck were not travelling in the nearside lane. Cynthia Barlow very courageously permitted the CCTV pictures showing how the driver of the truck that killed her daughter turned from the offside lane on London Wall to make illegal use of a narrow city street as a short cut, but having to force a priority over the traffic travelling in the nearside lane to do so - the driver so focussed in cutting up the cars that he completely failed to see the girl on the bike.

We have an inquest due for Francis Golding but his fatal crash should never have happened, if action had been taken following a fatal crash 5 years earlier in a near identical situation. Wan Chen McGuinness died after a large truck took the very tight corner turning left from Vernon Place in to Southampton Row.  The kerb radius looks to be well below the minimum 6 metre radius for modern road geometry, and the gap between the island and footway, both with guardrailing makes this a corner that demands attention to every corner of the large vehicle to make sure the front offside doesn't hit the island and the nearside doesn't scrape the railings, and to force a priority against the taxis and cyclists legitimately using the nearside lane. In short there should be a ban on large vehicle even attempting to turn left here with the current road geometry, and the safest and quickest measure to deliver a safer junction is to make large vehicles go round via Proctor Street and High Holborn to turn right on to Southampton Row where there is plenty of space to do this. The measure could even have physical enforcement by placing an island or raised feature (than can be run over in an emergency) possibly with bollards to split off the nearside lane in such a way that small vehicles and cyclists can go left or straight on but sufficiently narrow to make it impossible for a left turning motor vehicle to approach the turn alongside a cyclist.

There has been one left turn crash where a ban on large vehicles making that turn has resulted from the fatal crash. Ellie Carey died at the junction between Tower Bridge Road and Abbey Street, and it was clear that this was not a suitable manoeuvre for a large truck to ma ke. There will have been many other fatal crashes that fit this pattern, if you recognise it please let CTC or LCC know, and if you see the potential for this at other junctions, where the left turning trucks and buses turn from the outer lane(s) get that marked up as a hazard so that risk management (banning left turns, redesigning the junction geometry etc) can be put in place.

Nailing the issue London-wide is potentially a grass roots membership activity, crowd sourcing at its best. Everyone can identify one or more junctions where this (or another hazard) exists, and risk management interventions can be planned. Let's have some positive campaigning activity?          


Aren't we all going to do this as part of the "Space for Cylists" campaign next year. I also thought the survey gave everyone the opportunity to identify problem areas/junctions in their area?


So I hope this is all in hand for 2014.

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