Home
Improvements on the way, says Andrew Gilligan

Cycle Superhighway 2 is not fit for purpose, says an accident and emergency surgeon who has treated victims of the notorious East London bike lane described at a recent inquest as “just a piece of blue paint”.

Tom Konig, a surgeon at Royal London Hospital operated on two of riders killed on CS2 in November. An army surgeon and cyclist he believes cyclists need far better protection on London’s streets.

He told the BBC: “It’s difficult to point fingers but there is a lot of finger-pointing going on at the moment. Our hospital is on Cycle Superhighway 2 on Whitechapel Road and we’ve seen a lot of deaths on that Cycle Superhighway. We’ve had deaths of members of staff at this hospital, going to and from work.

“If I am to put my injury-prevention hat on, I don’t think that road is fit for purpose.”

There have been five cyclist deaths on or close to Cycle Superhighway 2 since it opened in 2011. On November 5 Brian Holt, a porter at Mile End Hospital, part of the same NHS Trust as Royal London, was killed after being hit by a truck.

According to the BBC, in 2004 the Royal London trauma team saw 24 major trauma cases involving cyclists, 69 in 2009 and 109 in 2013. Between 2001 and 2012, the number of daily cyclists in London rose from 290,000 to 570,000.

Mr Konig said: “It’s incessant. On Monday morning we had two patients who were bleeding to death in the resuscitation room, another case yesterday of a patient who was bleeding to death, I can’t just pretend it’s not happening.

“If this was an infectious disease outbreak and we said nothing people would ask us why we had not spoken up about it.”

This isn’t the first time Mr Konig has spoken up. In 2012 he told The Times: “You see a whole scope of cycling injuries, from grazes to people whose lower limbs have been run over or who end up in hospital for two or three months with a broken pelvis.

"But with some injuries, such as when a lorry has just turned across a cyclist and driven straight over their pelvis or chest, the cyclist will still be conscious and be slowly dying in front of you.

“You do your absolute best to get them to a place of safety as quickly as possible, but you are fighting a battle from the get-go and everyone involved has to be on the top of their game to save that person’s life. And even if you do, there is such a long road of complex surgery and teaching them to walk and speak again and knowing they may never go back to work.”

“With most of [serious] injuries, it’s a young man’s game — it tends to be young men who drive too fast, drink too much and get into fights. But with cycling injuries, it’s everyone, both young and old, male and female.”

Shenan Hettiaratchy, a surgeon at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington says trauma centres are getting better at saving lives and at improving the life outcomes of crash victims,

He said: “We see these injuries day after day and after a while, because you know it’s preventable, it is depressing.

“We need to do something about this, because these are young, fit healthy people - by definition, they are cycling to work - and they are losing their lives or their quality of life in accidents that could be prevented.”

Speaking after yesterday’s conference between cycle campaigners, city officials and road haulage groups, London cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan laid out the city’s plans to improve cycling provision.

“We’ll see a huge network of superhighways delivered to much better standard than now, including segregation right across central London and in parts of the suburbs as well. We’ll see a massive network of back street quietways for people who want to avoid the main roads altogether and we’ll see dozens of reshaped and safer junctions.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

15 comments

Avatar
A V Lowe [573 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

It is a requirement of the Road Traffic Act 1974 that roads authorities

“……shall carry out studies into accidents arising out of the use of vehicles on roads or parts of roads, other than trunk roads, within their area…”

But this is not delivered in the same way as the reports produced for rail and air crashes - check out RAIB website for this.

Instead there is no official roads version of RAIB/AAIB/MAIB investigations.

And there is no reason why this part of the Obligation needs to be satisfied by DfT alone. Most of the (rarely published) accident evaluations delivered by roads authorities have been lightweight, pre-judged and often incompetently executed.

Police Investigations have an implicit bias in informing a prosecution case or finding blame - unlike the impartiality of RAIB reports.

Avatar
northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

They won't do anything.

Avatar
JonD [392 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

It's probably worth adding that whilst there isn't a corresponding injury figure for 2001, or no. of daily cyclists in 2004, the figure for seriously injured cyclists in 2004 was 24.
So *very* approximately, in the period that no of cyclists has doubled, it looks like the no. of serious injuries may have quadrupled.

Avatar
Ush [641 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Are surgeons appropriate authorities for citation on injury prevention?

Avatar
ThatBritishBloke [20 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

In that sense, no more than you or me.

However, someone who is so involved in the clearing up the consequences of these terrible incidents has a view which is likely more considered than your's or mine ... unless that is, you're a traffic accident investigator. Are you?

Avatar
Ush [641 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
ThatBritishBloke wrote:

someone who is so involved in the clearing up the consequences of these terrible incidents has a view which is likely more considered than your's or mine

Completely disagree. In order to start talking about "epidemics" you need to be getting the opinion of someone that has actually been trained over a long period of time to understand statistics and the evaluation of population-level maladies.

ThatBritishBloke wrote:

... unless that is, you're a traffic accident investigator. Are you?

You appear to consistently assume that because someone is an expert in one field that they will be an authority on anything related to it. Hint: you're looking for a specialist whose name starts with "statisticia". Can you guess the last letter?

Avatar
Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Nice colour blue paint...what would we prefer this or nothing?
I believe education of both cyclist and motorists would help. More emphasis on awareness of cyclist should feature in the Highway Code.
Just in the last three days I have seen some frankly appalling standards of cycling by both serious and non-serious cyclist from jumping traffic lights, riding in the road at night with no viz or lights and dawdling along two a breast chatting with due due care and attention to other road users.
I cycle predominantly with about 40% of my annual mileage on a bike before anyone thinks I'm a car nut.

Avatar
efail [83 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

The problem with statisticians is, (I'm hazarding a guess at the word) if you laid them all head to foot, then they would never reach a decision.

I think I would rather listen to the doctor.

Avatar
felixcat [458 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
efail wrote:

The problem with statisticians is, (I'm hazarding a guess at the word) if you laid them all head to foot, then they would never reach a decision.

I think I would rather listen to the doctor.

You listen to doctors because you like to be given a decision? You would rather be told what to do than listen to the statisticians' analysis and then make up your own mind?

Avatar
Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

It's really depressing, and hardly surprising that Barclays have announced they are pulling out of the Boris bike deal three years earlier than planned.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-25327164

Avatar
Ush [641 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Guyz2010 wrote:

dawdling along two a breast chatting with due due care and attention to other road users

WTF?

Avatar
Shred [17 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

So where is the moral outrage to the death of all those pedestrians on our roads? Or all the motorist deaths?

I have seen so many Doctors in the press saying they will never cycle due to the injuries they see. So why are they walking, driving, eating any food (if you believe the daily wail) etc?

A doctor is not the right person for these comments, this is the type of reporting that actively discourages cycling

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1163 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I entirely agree that doctors are not especially qualified to make such pronouncements, and their job doesn't make them authoritative on matters of risk and transport policy.

But I do happen to partially agree with him in this case.

And there damn well _should_ be moral outrage at the deaths of pedestrians on the roads.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1163 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Guyz2010 wrote:

Nice colour blue paint...what would we prefer this or nothing?
I believe education of both cyclist and motorists would help. More emphasis on awareness of cyclist should feature in the Highway Code.
Just in the last three days I have seen some frankly appalling standards of cycling by both serious and non-serious cyclist from jumping traffic lights, riding in the road at night with no viz or lights and dawdling along two a breast chatting with due due care and attention to other road users.
I cycle predominantly with about 40% of my annual mileage on a bike before anyone thinks I'm a car nut.

Don't know about the Highway Code - most motorists seem to just cram it for the test then forget almost everything in it. Rather I think the driving test itself should be made far tougher, with special emphasis put on dealing with cyclists (and drivers should probably have to resit it every 15 years, say).

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1163 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
ThatBritishBloke wrote:

In that sense, no more than you or me.

However, someone who is so involved in the clearing up the consequences of these terrible incidents has a view which is likely more considered than your's or mine ... unless that is, you're a traffic accident investigator. Are you?

I don't see your basis for this statement. Care to provide some supporting evidence or argument for it?