Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Another Cyclist Death

Another woman, another HGV. Rest in peace.

It seems that the details were so horrific that the original Standard report has been redacted and is now a succinct statement of her name and the location of the collision. The original said "witnesses tell of haunting images". There's a bit more here.

She is the 13th victim this year, and we're barely into the dark evenings. Statistically it's impossible to say if London is really becoming more dangerous for cyclists because there have always been considerable variations in deaths from year to year. However, it is possible to say that it isn't getting any safer, because TfL are doing nothing about redesigning dangerous junctions so that HGVs can't run over cyclists as appears to have happened in this case. Instead, they are trying to push more traffic through the Capital's streets, by cramming more lanes in (see the Blackfriars redesign for an example of this).

They are also altering traffic light timings. I've observed the danger of this recently at both Trafalgar Square and Lambeth Bridge (south side), which are both light-controlled roundabouts. The light timings are such that you regularly see vehicles coming round from your right even if the lights are green in your favour. This is partly because when the lights go red, the leading vehicle, and even the vehicle behind, often jumps the light. But it's also because TfL are so obsessed about getting as much traffic through the junction as possible they don't leave enough time for vehicles to clear when the lights change. This is particularly problematic for cyclists, because you will normally be at the front of the traffic queue in the advance stop box (if it's not occupied by taxis or motorcycles), and your safety relies on your ability to get away quickly in front of the general traffic and through the junction without getting overtaken, undertaken or cut up. If there are vehicles failing to give way, you have no choice but to cede passage, whereas larger vehicles can be more aggressive. The result is often you get sandwiched between vehicles entering the junction from two directions.

Multi-lane junctions roundabouts and gyratories are dangerous enough for cyclists by their very nature. Chuck in ASLs that are occupied by 4-wheelers, approach lanes that are blocked, as many lanes as possible, as much traffic moving as fast as possible regulated by super-aggressive lights phasing and you have a lethal cocktail of factors that are guaranteed to lead to tragedy.

1 comment:

  1. Today I saw another female cyclist lying in a puddle of blood not far away from there in the middle of the Marylebone Road. She was motionless, and there were no police or ambulance there yet (I called and was told ambulance was already on its way), only crowd of bystanders and some of them were trying to do something. Sadly, I possess no first aid knowledge.

    It looked like in that case the helmet could have made a difference - the girl wasn't run over, more like knocked off her bike and head stricken against the road.

    Be careful please :(