HGV collision victim Bart Chan accuses Boris Johnson of "empty words" on London cycling safety

Hit from behind by HGV, cyclist lucky to be alive

by John Stevenson   May 20, 2014  

Crash victim Bart Chan

Being hit from behind while you’re riding along minding your own business is every cyclist’s nightmare. On Tuesday May 13 that’s exactly what happened to Bart Chan, who was riding on Upper Thames Street in the City when he was hit from behind by an HGV. In this video he tells BBC London transport correspondent Tom Edwards what happened, and accuses Mayor of London Boris Johnson of “empty words” on cycle safety.

Chan says he felt “helpless under those wheels” as he was hit by the lorry. He said: “I was expecting the worst … excruciating pain followed … I was amazed I was still conscious coming out of it.”

With the trashed remains of his helmet at his bedside, Chan lists his injuries which include a shattered shoulder. The full extent of the damage is not yet clear, he says.

But he’s clear on what he thinks will improve safety for cyclists in London: safer HGVs. He said there should be “compulsory better design. You’ve got London buses which are pretty well designed for the drivers, they can look around almost 360. I always see a bus driver, they can see me. Why can’t we have that for HGVs?”

Chan said that he’d also like to see segregated cycling facilities and a ban on HGVs at rush hour.

London mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London have been promising improvements to cycling facilities since Johnson was elected in 2008, but campaigners increasingly say too little is being improved too slowly.

Chan agrees. He said: It’s not happening fast enough because there’s still deaths going on, still serous injuries. … The mayor talks about a cycling revolution but I’m yet to see that revolution take place. I feel it’s empty words right now from Boris Johnson.”

On the same evening as Chan was hit, Abdelkhalak Lahyani died after a collision with an HGV at the Elephant and Castle. Campaign group Stop Killing Cyclists is organising a protest at the site on wednesday evening, May 21.

22 user comments

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Agreed, two very important points, we need to force the re-design of HGV's so they come up to much higher visibility standards and a ban during rush hour.
That on it's own would save lives and make rush hour better. There must be way more people on bikes needing to travel at that time of day than HGVs.
It doesn't help that London is a permanent building site. Someone somewhere is making shed loads of cash, maybe they should be the ones to pay for the HGV upgrades.

posted by Belaroo [44 posts]
20th May 2014 - 12:54

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Redesigned HGVs with all-round visibility like a bus? That sounds like a good idea.

http://lcc.org.uk/articles/lcc-challenges-construction-industry-to-adopt...

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posted by GrahamSt [76 posts]
20th May 2014 - 13:12

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It's not 'cyclists' that are dying. It's people. I don't know how the BBC could look at Mr. Chan's bed-bound, broken-bodied form and decide that he resembled 'someone currently riding a bicycle'. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is pretty much all a 'cyclist' is defined as. It's a short term thing, open to anybody; not some sort of eternally binding contract into a strange cult.

The walls between cycling and anything else are completely permeable, but that's not reflected in the way we discuss it. Riding a bike should not forfeit one's status as a person or human, man or woman, mother, father, or child.

posted by Quince [102 posts]
20th May 2014 - 14:04

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Belaroo wrote:
Someone somewhere is making shed loads of cash, maybe they should be the ones to pay for the HGV upgrades.

I can see you've put a lot of thought into that statement...

posted by AyBee [60 posts]
20th May 2014 - 14:41

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The cycle revolution that is happening is the bike hire scheme, the ride London and associated events and the increased number of cyclists. The powers that be will spin that as their success. Spending money to really improve safety and facilities, the will to take on the road/HGV lobby will always be a low priority. Like so much in Government all we get is windows dressing.

I have to say I tend to agree with the poster who talks about compartmentalization of what these victims are.

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posted by bikeandy61 [386 posts]
20th May 2014 - 14:42

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I commute regularly down CS7, over Southwark bridge and across Upper Thames Street where this accident happened.

This road regularly has a disproportionately high number of heavy Tipper lorries on it during rush hour.

Remember, this is CS7, a supposed "cycle super highway". People are encouraged to cycle on it, yet its full of the most dangerous type of vehicle.

The road haulage lobby consistently acts to block any significant measures which make lorries safer for other road users, its a disgrace.

Overwhelming, the message from the RHA seems to be "we've got blind spots - stay away!", whilst campaigning against measures to remove the blind spots.

Get well soon Bart.

I'll be at the protest on Wednesday.

posted by ribena [133 posts]
20th May 2014 - 15:48

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I agree that tipper wagons are the worst vehicles for cyclist on the road,i have worked in the building game and been around heavy trucks and diggers all my life,but if anyone really thinks that they are going to ban muck wagons on the roads during rush hour,and make muck away companys buy all new trucks,they are living in dreamland!!!.nearly every muck wagon in London is driving by a eastern European on low wages who is under pressure to do a lots of loads every day,i love cycling and I hate to see people getting hurt on the roads,but people have to understand that money is sadly the most important thing in London,and that just wont change

posted by seanboy [23 posts]
20th May 2014 - 19:20

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CS7 stops at Upper Thames Street. You can go north then onto Cannon Street which is busy but less trucks, but Upper Thames Street is quick but very busy, one of the main routes out of London to get to A13 for tippers on infrastructure projects like Crossrail etc. A least projects like Crossrail mandate extra safety features and driver training plus regular checks and bans for non compliance.

posted by rootes [39 posts]
20th May 2014 - 20:10

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Whos gives a crap? London riders are obviously the worst cyclist in the country. The rest of us manage just fine. Learn to ride or get a car. Simples/

posted by Gero [16 posts]
20th May 2014 - 21:08

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Gero wrote:
Whos gives a crap? London riders are obviously the worst cyclist in the country. The rest of us manage just fine. Learn to ride or get a car. Simples/

That is a very lame attempt at trolling. I can guarantee you would not have the nerve to say that to a relative of someone killed by these vehicles. Grow up sunshine.

posted by arfa [445 posts]
20th May 2014 - 21:41

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ribena wrote:
Overwhelming, the message from the RHA seems to be "we've got blind spots - stay away!"

My response to that is always the same: why the F do we allow a vehicle with really big blind spots to travel through city centres in rush hour traffic when there are vulnerable road users, pedestrians and children around?

In fact, why do we allow such vehicles into city centres at all during the day?

Oh yeah, money.

posted by GrahamSt [76 posts]
20th May 2014 - 23:21

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Quince wrote:
The walls between cycling and anything else are completely permeable, but that's not reflected in the way we discuss it. Riding a bike should not forfeit one's status as a person or human, man or woman, mother, father, or child.

Likewise, when the media latch on to the idea of someone on a bike they instantly become a "cyclist" regardless of the relevance. E.g. a man mugs an elderly woman and steals her purse before riding off on a bike will be headlined as "Cyclist mugs elderly woman". And since nobody ever reads the full article to get context, the public perception will be cyclists = bad people.

posted by RPK [31 posts]
21st May 2014 - 1:30

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Gero wrote:
Whos gives a crap? London riders are obviously the worst cyclist in the country. The rest of us manage just fine. Learn to ride or get a car. Simples/

Ah, a UKIP voter.

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posted by Bez [366 posts]
21st May 2014 - 8:41

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Empty words from Boris indeed. I use CS7 pretty often and it isn't very good. The area around Upper Thames Street and the roads feeding into it is not particularly well designed with regard to traffic flow, which affects all road users.

He is lucky to be alive and I hope he recovers.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
21st May 2014 - 9:33

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GrahamSt wrote:
In fact, why do we allow such vehicles into city centres at all during the day?

Oh yeah, money.

There's a counterbalance to that, your vote.

For anyone that hasn't use the LCC campaign yet, annoy your candidates here - http://action.space4cycling.org/

It'll take you a minute, and I've had a positive response from about half my candidates so far.

posted by bikebot [453 posts]
21st May 2014 - 10:01

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I haven't been to London for a while, and it's been a while since I was working and cycling there (around 2001). I think I should consider myself lucky that I never got into any scrapes. Looking back, some of the roads were a nighmare around EC and Hackney.

I'm wondering if Boris or whoever is in charge couldn't just ban HGVs from certain roads, so that there were roads/routes connecting to each other that form a cycle friendly network. Now that may mean extended cycle journeys, but I guess it may be worth it, if there was reduced HGVs using it. Signpost it just like with the congestion charge, and then charge HGVs that knowingly stray into it/onto those roads.

A map could be created like the tube map to enable journey planing. These roads could then be the ones that get money spent on them to be made cycle friendly.

If there's one thing that good Ole Blighty is good at, it's charging, so I'm sure it would work! After all, it's all about money right.

posted by ronin [93 posts]
21st May 2014 - 10:16

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Ronin, that's basically what the quietways are for. The problem then is one of capacity and transit speed.

The superhighways themselves are variable but relatively safe, at least the majority of these accident's aren't happening on the road sections but just the junctions. It's the nature of the centre of London that even the quietways will intersect busy roads. If you have both quiet roads and busy roads running in all directions they will meet, you can't remove that without lots of tunnels and bridges. Dangerous junctions will remain.

The Elephant & Castle protest is today. For anyone outside London who wants to see just how bad that is, this video that I found the other day shows it really well - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO1_xJ5_TKI

posted by bikebot [453 posts]
21st May 2014 - 12:57

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Lorry cab design regulations are at a critical stage at the moment - write to the relevant Minister asking for UK Government support for the EU Parliament's proposals.

More: http://lcc.org.uk/articles/lcc-demands-action-on-safer-lorries-from-tran...

posted by Duncann [13 posts]
21st May 2014 - 13:00

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seanboy wrote:
... if anyone really thinks that they are going to ban muck wagons on the roads during rush hour...they are living in dreamland!
...nearly every muck wagon in London is driving by a eastern European on low wages...
...that just wont change

The banning of the wagons, that is to say, whether it gets banned or doesn't get banned, will have nothing at all to do with who the driver is. Have I missed the point you were making?

posted by severs1966 [50 posts]
21st May 2014 - 13:25

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rootes wrote:
...projects like Crossrail mandate extra safety features and driver training plus regular checks and bans for non compliance.

Why are these requirements not applicable to every truck and driver? If Crossrail proves the features to be both necessary and workable, they should be universally mandatory.

posted by severs1966 [50 posts]
21st May 2014 - 13:28

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severs1966 wrote:
rootes wrote:
...projects like Crossrail mandate extra safety features and driver training plus regular checks and bans for non compliance.

Why are these requirements not applicable to every truck and driver? If Crossrail proves the features to be both necessary and workable, they should be universally mandatory.

At the local level, Crossrail can mandate this as it's the customer and can specify any requirement it likes for its project. The Mayor of London can't require it beyond, as it's outside of his responsibility. The ones dragging their heels here are the DfT who need to be pushed on this matter as the LCC campaign is attempting to.

Be more vocal than the transport lobby, we have more votes than them.

posted by bikebot [453 posts]
21st May 2014 - 14:24

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If anybody knows Bart Chan let him know there is a free entry to one of the SRS Events cyclosportive waiting for him whenever he is ready and fit enough to ride again.
http://www.srs-events.cc

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posted by Rupert [80 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 15:56

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