Monday, 25 April 2016

Nine months.

It has been nine months since a cyclist was killed by a motor vehicle in London, a halt which would not have seemed credible at this time last year.

This pause follows a string of needless deaths which inspired the campaign for lorry safety which we have all been part of. Inexplicably, it was legal to drive HGVs around London blindly until the rules were updated to require more extensive mirrors. Haulage companies have also made this a focus, with industry groups concerned that their vehicles might be banned from the centre.

But we have been lucky

In this time many cyclists have received serious injuries on our roads. https://cycling-intelligence.com/fatal-cycling-accidents-in-london/ gives details of some of the non-fatal collisions: 

first hit by one vehicle and then dragged under the wheels of a second
victim had leg amputated; left turning driver arrested
Witnesses reported hearing a "gut-wrenching scream" in the collision near the notorious Old Street roundabout

These were incidents which could easily have resulted in another death. It is only luck and the work of NHS trauma teams which prevented fatalities here.


More is needed to keep cyclists safe in London

It is important to recognise the progress which has been made to improve safety for people on bikes - progress which is in part thanks to the supporters of this campaign, the London Cycling Campaign and Stop Killing Cyclists.

However, this isn't the end of HGV deaths in London. 

Last year 7 people were killed by lorries - a toll which is totally unacceptable and in no way diminished because the overall toll is less than last year. There are no 'acceptable' deaths from our transport system so we need London to adopt the same approach as New York:

This status quo is unacceptable. The City of New York must no longer regard traffic crashes as mere "accidents," but rather as preventable incidents that can be systematically addressed. No level of fatality on city streets is inevitable or acceptable.

The future

We cannot allow complacency to creep back in to City Hall, or for HGV operators to relax their focus. A confidential reporting system such as CIRAS is needed to allow drivers and employees to report safety concerns without fearing for their jobs.

The NHS has done an excellent job of keeping cyclists alive, too little has been done to prevent collisions on our roads. If we go back to old ways we will see the numbers of road deaths go back up.

Now is the time to press home the need for a network of protected cycle lanes across all of London and a Vision Zero approach to safety on our streets.