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Safer London for Cyclists?

Posted on 23rd October 2015

Over the recent years there has been an increased number of cyclists on the streets of London. This has in part been promoted through the London Self – Service Cycle Hire Scheme, also known as the ‘Boris bikes’.

The so called cycle super highways, introduced across London, primarily on main roads, encourage riders to use main roads. However it has been argued that they give riders a false sense of security and are not segregated but just marked by a single blue strip of paint.

With increased number of cyclists on the road this has in return resulted in an increased number of fatalities and serious injuries. There have been 8 cycle deaths in London in 2015. Worryingly, 7 of these fatalities involved heavy goods vehicles.

Whilst the statistics show that the number of cyclist incidents may have decreased over the years, serious injuries arising from these incidents are on the rise.

Cyclists are often in the lorry drivers blind spot and are often not seen whilst the lorry is performing a turning manoeuvre. There has been suggestion by the Greater London Authority to implement rules for lorries and heavy goods vehicles to avoid roads heavily used by cyclists, especially in rush hour.

A raft of new safety measures designed to protect cyclists from heavy goods vehicles announced by the Mayor of London and Transport for London last month, are in my opinion welcoming news for cyclists.

The new rules require a vehicle of more than 3.5 tonnes entering London to be fitted with:

  • sideguards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels ; and
  • special mirrors to give drivers a better view of cyclists and pedestrians around their vehicles.

Drivers found to be in charge of a non-compliant vehicle may be issued with a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice. The offence also carries a potential fine of £1,000 and/or suspension of the license.

Though these measures should help reduce fatalities, I think there needs to be fundamental changes to road rules to reduce accidents involving cyclists. A recent proposal and one that I would support is a ban on lorries being able to turn left

Cynthia Barlow OBE, the Chair of the RoadPeace Charity, gave a talk this week on behalf of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) about tackling the danger posed by lorries and said that ‘the same things are still happening, things must continue to change for the better’. She calls for the ‘need to ensure non-compliance is expensive’. She advocates for the need for all lorries to be upgraded and to be fitted with in-cab cameras for reverse and side views, speed monitors and sensors so that drivers can have a better view of the road and road users.

I agree with Cynthia and do not think the current measures go far enough. Traffic control measures and speed reduction across roads needs to be addressed before we see a significant drop of serious injuries involving cyclists and cycling can really become safe.

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