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.