TfL Safety Audits ignored danger warnings at location where cyclist killed during Olympics

Transport for London documents obtained using a Freedom of Information request have revealed that the road on which cyclist Dan Harris was killed during the Olympics was known to be hazardous for cycling, but the remedial measures taken were inadequate, and that this wasn’t picked up by any Safety Audits.

We’ve published a map and photos showing the inadequate signage directing cyclists to use the shared use pavement, as an alternative to using the carriageway which had been identified as hazardous.

The FOI documents (you can download a PDF with links here) cast serious doubt on TfL’s Safety Audit process, which is intended to highlight and remove dangers from new street designs, but does not require all cycling provision to be checked and can leave lethal road layouts in place putting lives at risk.

The death of cyclist Dan Harris during the Games attracted worldwide attention, after he was hit by a left-turning bus close to the Olympic Park.

A Safety Audit as far back as January 2011 identified problems with the signage and traffic-management provision for cycling at the fatal crash location, but these problems were never properly addressed.

The TfL paper trail reveals that the risks identified in January 2011 were acknowledged in an official TfL Safety Audit Response in April 2011, accepting the street layout needed to be reviewed.

However, a further Safety Audit in February 2012 disregarded recommendations for improved cycle safety at this location, saying that “the absence of pedestrian, cyclist and signal phasing details” identified previously “is no longer relevant”.

Dan Harris was subsequently killed on this section of road due to a collision with a bus doing a U-turn across his path, Given this, LCC believes the inadequate signage at this location should have been highly relevant to TfL’s Safety Audit process.

That’s why LCC has written to TfL Commissioner Peter Hendy asking why this Safety Audit process appears to have failed so dramatically in properly addressing the risks to cyclists that it had identified.

This is the third time in 18 months that we’ve highlighted the problem with TfL Safety Audits.

Most recently, we published a detailed report by LCC campaigner Hugh Morgan of Merton Cycling Campaign, who highlighted TfL’s failure to identify serious dangers to cyclists at a new road layout in Martin Way, Merton.

After three years of complaints from the local LCC group, the flawed road layout was eventually removed and replaced at a cost of £500,000 to local taxpayers.

The issue of ineffective Safety Audit processes within TfL has been in the public domain since 2004, when a major review was conducted by the independent Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) into TfL practices after the death of Londoner Vicki McCreery while cycling on Blackfriars Bridge.

We highlighted the change to Safety Audit processes promised in this review and the lack of progress in July 2011 as part of our investigation into the flawed solution proposed for Blackfriars Bridge.

These changes included the creation of a robust process for identifying dangers to cycling including a Non-Motorised Road User Audit.

There’s no evidence in the documents supplied that this type of audit took place at this location.

Without robust processes within TfL for identifying risk at new road layouts, the situation where Londoners are put in avoidable danger us likely to continue.

Timeline for Olympic fatality

Jan 2011 Safety Audit identifies risk to cyclists and pedestrians from lack of signing details for the scheme.

Apr 2011 TfL responds to Safety Audit, acknowledging problems exist

Jul 2011 LCC criticises failure of Safety Audit process at Blackfriars

Dec 2011 LCC publishes detailed critique of Safety Audit process

Jan 2012 Safety Audit says the “absence of pedestrian, cyclist and signal phasing details” identified in Jan 2011 “is no longer relevant”

Jun-Jul 12 Further Safety Audits fail to identify risks to cyclists

Aug 2012 Dan Harris killed cycling at this high-risk junction

Oct 2012 LCC publishes Safety Audit documents and diagram showing likely route Harris cycled to fatal crash location