LCC welcomes casualty fall, but says police must target careless drivers

Campaign group responds to launch of "Son of Safeway" operation in London yesterday

by Simon_MacMichael   May 28, 2014  

London cyclist approaching junction.jpg

London Cycling Campaign says it welcomes casualty figures announced yesterday by Mayor of London Boris Johnson that show a sharp fall in the number of cyclist killed or seriously injured in the capital during 2013. However, it says that police road safety initiatives need to focus much more on careless driving to improve safety.

The figures, compiled by Transport for London, revealed that 475 cyclist had been seriously injured in London in 2013, a fall of 28 per cent compared to the 657 recorded in 2012.

According to a press release from the mayor’s office, “that is the second-lowest rate ever recorded, just behind figures for 2006, when there was one KSI for every 434,000 journeys by bike.”

It added that the fall was in part due to the Metropolitan Police launching Operation Safeway, although since that only ran from mid-November, devised in response to six cyclists losing their lives in a two-week period, LCC says it believes the impact of the initiative has been overstated.

Operation Safeway resulted in 14,000 fixed penalty notices or summons being issued, three in ten of them to cyclists, and Mr Johnson confirmed yesterday that a smaller-scale “Son of Safeway” operation would see as many as 1,000 officers deployed for two days each month at 100 Inner London junctions.

Superintendent Rob Revill, of the Metropolitan Police’s Safer Transport Command, said: “Our aim is to reduce the appalling number of people who die or are injured on London's roads each year. Every road death is a needless tragedy that wreaks devastation for the victim's friends and family. Every serious injury is life-changing and distressing.

“Operation Safeway has significantly contributed towards a change in road user behaviour, so we will continue to carry out operations at busy junctions, in addition to our daily road safety work to ensure that people continue to act legally and safely on the roads.

“It is so important that this change in behaviour is now maintained and we are not complacent. Remember, nothing is worth risking yours or another person's life on the road.”

However, in response to the mayor’s announcement, LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said: “We can all be careless if we don’t make an effort not to be, but when we’re driving such carelessness can kill – that’s why it’s a crime, and the law should be enforced.

“We welcome more traffic police on our streets, but they must use their powers to tackle carelessness, which is the biggest single factor in the deaths and injuries of thousands of cyclists in London every year.”

LCC pointed out that Operation Safeway attracted criticism because it failed to address the three types of driving behaviour that according to TfL’s own data are most likely to result in cyclists being killed or injured, namely:

• Drivers turning across the path of cyclists without care
• Drivers overtaking cyclists too close, and without care for their safety
• Drivers or passengers carelessly opening a car door in the path of a cyclist.

LCC also said that many of the cyclists stopped during Operation Safeway, which ran for seven weeks, were “cycling carefully and lawfully, and were given questionable safety advice,” such as:

• Cyclists were told off by police for ‘taking the lane’ in accordance with Government cycle training advice
• Cyclists were told off for moving to the right of a lane when making a right turn
• Cyclists were told off for not wearing helmets or high-viz clothing, despite the effectiveness of this being strongly disputed.

Charlie Lloyd of LCC said: “It's excellent news there's been a fall in cyclist death and serious injury rates – although one year’s data doesn’t necessarily indicate a trend.

“However it’s rather fanciful to suggest Operation Safeway, which ran for just six weeks at the end of 2013, can have caused a major reduction in cycling casualties for the whole of the year.

“The months of cold weather earlier in 2013, severely reducing the number of cycling journeys, are likely to be a significant factor in the year-on-year reduction.

“It’s just too early to say if we are seeing a sustained reduction, let alone attribute it to any one police operation.”

Alex Ingram, co-ordinator and vice-chair of hfcyclists, the branch of LCC in Hammersmith & Fulham, took the TfL data made available by the Mayor of London’s office and produced graphs to show long-term trends, posting the results to Twitter.

While the graphs show an upward trend in the number of cyclists suffering serious injuries when looking at a three-year moving average, what they don’t take account of is the growth of cycling in the city; putting the figures in the context of total distance cycled would enable an assessment of trends in casualty rates to be made.

While no accurate data are available covering the whole period in question, according to the Mayor’s Cycling Vision published last year, levels of cycling on the TfL road network (ie London’s major roads) grew threefold in the previous decade.

11 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

My new favourite is drivers pulling out from a right hand road alongside you as you draw level with the junction. The last person who did this to me was do incensed by my weary head shaking that he pulled over, threatened to get out of his car and kick my head in and also used the new classic phrase - 'I'm a f**kin cyclist too!'

He didn't appreciate my question asking how it was that he was in such a hurry he could risk my life - but suddenly had the time to stop and argue with me ( as a line of cars waited behind him). He also didn't appreciate my suggestion that, as a cyclist too, he might want to come out with me on the local chainy and burn off a little frustration that way.

We parted not as friends. I'd recognise him again though. He looked like every third moron you meet; 5'6" Phil Mitchell lookalike in a battered silver Astra. Yawn

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1057 posts]
28th May 2014 - 13:21

like this
Like (18)

MercuryOne wrote:
He looked like every third moron you meet; 5'6" Phil Mitchell lookalike in a battered silver Astra. Yawn

Bah... could be anyone then! Wink

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [480 posts]
28th May 2014 - 13:30

like this
Like (7)

Good work from the LCC. This is my greatest bugbear about traffic enforcement, little is done to stop dangerous driving.

By far the greatest risk I face comes from the small percentage of drivers who make stupidly close passes or fail to give way. The number of people who have received a fine for that is pretty much zero.

I'm pretty bored now with statistics for drivers fined for entering ASL boxes. That's an annoyance but it's far from the most serious danger, and for the Police it's a relatively soft target to make up the numbers.

Carry on fining cyclists who do stupid things, but please when it comes to motorists, target the most dangerous drivers, and target the defective lorries.

posted by bikebot [490 posts]
28th May 2014 - 13:42

like this
Like (17)

bikebot wrote:
I'm pretty bored now with statistics for drivers fined for entering ASL boxes. That's an annoyance but it's far from the most serious danger, and for the Police it's a relatively soft target to make up the numbers.

It also reaffirms ASL's 'usefulness' and that they then become the template solution for junction design.

There are a few reasons why the Dutch stopped using them.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [480 posts]
28th May 2014 - 15:12

like this
Like (13)

zanf wrote:
bikebot wrote:
I'm pretty bored now with statistics for drivers fined for entering ASL boxes. That's an annoyance but it's far from the most serious danger, and for the Police it's a relatively soft target to make up the numbers.

It also reaffirms ASL's 'usefulness' and that they then become the template solution for junction design.

There are a few reasons why the Dutch stopped using them.

ASLs are stupid because 1) you are encouraged into a position directly in front of impatient traffic who are desparate to sprint to the back of the next queue and can't cope with you starting off slowly...

and 2) to get into them you are encouraged to ride up the side of large vehicles where you might get stuffed as the lights change and and they suddenly start indicating AND turning left on top of you without bothering to look...

I've had that last one myself... there seems to be an increasing trend of idiot drivers who don't start indicating until the light goes green... why? deity knows, perhaps they think it means the bulbs last longer? But it's effing infuriating as it directly encourages cyclists to come up their underside thinking it's safe...

posted by Paul_C [174 posts]
28th May 2014 - 15:22

like this
Like (10)

zanf wrote:
bikebot wrote:
I'm pretty bored now with statistics for drivers fined for entering ASL boxes. That's an annoyance but it's far from the most serious danger, and for the Police it's a relatively soft target to make up the numbers.

It also reaffirms ASL's 'usefulness' and that they then become the template solution for junction design.

There are a few reasons why the Dutch stopped using them.

The coverage of the Elephant & Castle incidents, has reinforced for me how much planners had positioned cycling infrastructure to "calm traffic". Stuff that, I'm not some two wheeled speed hump.

I do think ASL boxes are frequently misused by cyclists who always race to the front, for exactly the same reason that I think drivers who overtake me just before a red light are daft. When the lights change, the car in front won't slow me down, and staying in lane where you know everyone around you has seen you is often the safest option.

posted by bikebot [490 posts]
28th May 2014 - 15:39

like this
Like (6)

ASLs are ridiculous. I saw several yesterday in North London on a multi lane road. How on earth is a cyclit meant to approach the ASL? and then why would a cyclist position themself on the outside lane in an ASL. What's the effing point of that? Where to go when the light turns green?
It's such a stupid waste of paint, time, everything.
It's lazy, ignorant design.

posted by Lukas [2 posts]
28th May 2014 - 15:52

like this
Like (12)

It's well worth adding this tweet from Mark Treasure to the analysis of the figures:

https://twitter.com/AsEasyAsRiding/status/471268759097716736

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [371 posts]
29th May 2014 - 8:31

like this
Like (4)

bikebot wrote:

I do think ASL boxes are frequently misused by cyclists who always race to the front, for exactly the same reason that I think drivers who overtake me just before a red light are daft.

On that basis you may as well say "don't filter".

As for 'misuse' - there is an entry lane for cyclists (there has to be a break in the first line of the ASL box), which is there to allow cyclists to legally enter the box AFTER any other traffic has stopped (hopefully at the first stop line).

posted by JonD [180 posts]
29th May 2014 - 10:54

like this
Like (7)

JonD wrote:
bikebot wrote:

I do think ASL boxes are frequently misused by cyclists who always race to the front, for exactly the same reason that I think drivers who overtake me just before a red light are daft.

On that basis you may as well say "don't filter".

As for 'misuse' - there is an entry lane for cyclists (there has to be a break in the first line of the ASL box), which is there to allow cyclists to legally enter the box AFTER any other traffic has stopped (hopefully at the first stop line).

Oh, I'm not anti-ASL. I use them plenty.

I just think there are also a lot of cyclists who make the mistake of ALWAYS filtering to the front, when often the safest thing to do is to stay in a strong position in the lane you are in.

So it's not "don't filter" or "do filter". It's read the road, and make a decision based on the junction, the type of vehicles you'll be filtering past, and the timing of the lights.

I think the legal position of those stupid filter lanes is going to be changed, which at most junctions actually requires bicycles to enter on the left side of traffic.

posted by bikebot [490 posts]
29th May 2014 - 14:22

like this
Like (5)

bikebot wrote:
JonD wrote:
bikebot wrote:

I do think ASL boxes are frequently misused by cyclists who always race to the front, for exactly the same reason that I think drivers who overtake me just before a red light are daft.

On that basis you may as well say "don't filter".

As for 'misuse' - there is an entry lane for cyclists (there has to be a break in the first line of the ASL box), which is there to allow cyclists to legally enter the box AFTER any other traffic has stopped (hopefully at the first stop line).

Oh, I'm not anti-ASL. I use them plenty.

I just think there are also a lot of cyclists who make the mistake of ALWAYS filtering to the front, when often the safest thing to do is to stay in a strong position in the lane you are in.

So it's not "don't filter" or "do filter". It's read the road, and make a decision based on the junction, the type of vehicles you'll be filtering past, and the timing of the lights.

I think the legal position of those stupid filter lanes is going to be changed, which at most junctions actually requires bicycles to enter on the left side of traffic.

I absolutely agree. To some extent I think ASLs don't really help. They are based on the philosophy that cyclists should not be "in the lane" and shouldn't overtake on the outside. If I am overtaking or filtering to the front of a stationary or slow moving line I do it on the outside, never on the inside. And I join the lane a few cars back if I can. definitely where I can be seen right in front of a bonnet.

I can understand that more novice cyclists might not feel comfortable doing that but then again why send novice cyclists up the more dangerous route.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [567 posts]
29th May 2014 - 16:11

like this
Like (3)