Vauxhall death cyclist had ridden gyratory just once before

Family of experienced cyclist Tafsir Butt begged him to avoid "genuinely dangerous" junction after he was injured on first journey through gyratory

by John Stevenson   June 17, 2014  

A cyclist negotiates the deadly chaos of Vauxhall Gyratory (Google StreetView)

Tafsir Butt, the 52-year-old cyclist killed in a collision at Vauxhall Gyratory earlier this month was “always a safe cyclist” who had only used London’s “nastiest” junction once before and had come off his bike and been injured then, according to his brother.

Tauqir Butt, 55, told the Evening Standard’s David Churchill that his brother had crashed six months ago when he first used the junction, described by the London mayor’s cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan as “genuinely dangerous”.

When he was killed, Tafsir Butt was cycling home to Battersea from an overnight shift at his job as a security guard in a building near Cannon Street.

His brother said: “He came off there about six months ago when he first used it as a short cut.

“He went to hospital and luckily he escaped with just bruising, but we pleaded with him ‘please don’t use that junction again’ because it is so dangerous.

“But that morning he did for some reason and it’s cost him his life. It was only the second time he’d used it that we know of.”

Tauqir Butt described Tafsir as a “generous, friendly man and a loving brother” who “ was loved and respected by his work colleagues.” He was due to get married in two months.

He added: “It just doesn’t seem right that cyclists are allowed to cycle there but that there isn't better conditions for them because it’s so busy. The tunnel needs to be lit up more so drivers can see better and there’s not enough room for cyclists. It needs to be sorted out. He was always such a safe cyclist who always stuck to the left-hand side of the road.”

Tafsir Butt died after a collision with a tipper truck on Parry Street, Vauxhall Gyratory at about 7am on June 2. He was on a section where four lanes of traffic meet when he was hit.

Paramedics attempted to save him but he died at the scene, the sixth cyclist to lose his life on London’s streets so far this year. The driver of the tipper truck stopped at the scene and no arrests have been made.

After Tafsir Butt’s death,  Andrew Gilligan, the London mayor's cycling commissioner, told the BBC that the junction at Vauxhall "is genuinely dangerous, and is unavoidable for thousands and thousands of cyclists".

He added it was "the one I hate the most".

The junction is due to be converted to two-way traffic and include a 0.9-mile (1.4km) two-way segregated cycle track running from the Oval through Vauxhall and over Vauxhall Bridge to Pimlico.

Work is scheduled to start in Autumn following a public consultation.

But following the death of Tafsir Butt, the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) called on London mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London to fast-track the rebuilding of the junction.

Ashok Sinha, chief executive of LCC, said: "Until Vauxhall junction is redesigned, then cyclists will continue to risk death and serious injury when cycling through this location, where they're forced to jockey for position with fast cars and heavy goods vehicles weaving across several lanes of traffic."

11 user comments

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It's a horrible junction even in a car or on a motorbike.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2211 posts]
17th June 2014 - 12:00

8 Likes

That and Elephant & Castle are two systems I will construct an entire route to avoid. Nail biting in a car, let alone a bike, with speed, constant unexpected switching of lanes by cars and too much going on to take it all in.

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aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [303 posts]
17th June 2014 - 13:21

17 Likes

"He was always such a safe cyclist who always stuck to the left-hand side of the road."

Tragic comment there. Killed by the car-centric culture in two ways. First, it required him to practice vehicular cycling. Second, it possibly made him and his family view cycling safety from a driver's POV, and so potentially caused him to cycle in the gutter - increasing the danger to him, rather than decreasing it. Sad

Tragedy. My deepest sympathies to the family. Sad

posted by Paul J [629 posts]
17th June 2014 - 13:51

26 Likes

I live one side of it and work the other and absolutely refuse to even walk there.

It needs to be ripped out and a much calmer solution put in place but it doesnt help that Vauxhall Bridge Road is a dual carriageway and South Lambeth Road, Kennington Lane/Harleyford Road are treated as such.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [538 posts]
17th June 2014 - 14:48

15 Likes

I skirt round Vauxhall every day and passed the area in the aftermath. It really angers me that TfL have done nothing about a known dangerous junction and now this poor guy lies dead. It's been "going dutch" for as long as I can remember and still it is in " consultation ".
As mentioned above, there are a number of known nightmarish junctions to be avoided at all costs but TfL does sweet fa about them. How is the novice cyclist supposed to find this out without paying with their life ? Why is there no accountability at TfL for not at the very least putting up warning signs ?
I have previously flagged other danger spots with them and you get a boiler plate response and zero action.
I would not be sorry to see someone in the dock over this

posted by arfa [503 posts]
17th June 2014 - 15:16

18 Likes

I cycle this section every day (West-East / East-West) and refuse to go around it, crossing through the bus station instead. Tried the 'around' route a few times initially and it's genuinely terrifying....tight corners, dark under passes, 4 lanes of overly aggro vehicles trying to jostle for a lane...just not worth risking.

My heart goes out to the family for their loss.

In the vain hope of getting some positive from such a tragedy, I do hope that something can be done by TfL to make that spot safer. I won't be holding my breath though.

Sadly, simply looking out for yourself is still the most reliable way of staying safe on our roads. I always advise newcomers to the commute to 'own their space' on the road, use pavements / crossings and or bus stations (as in Vxhl Jct) where it's more sensible to, rather than using dangerous sections of road, as well as to frequently apply the good old life-saver / over shoulder check. A few golden rules for newbies to best counter the vast number of cyclist-unsafe sections of London's roads.

posted by Carvers [41 posts]
17th June 2014 - 16:43

5 Likes

Yet another tipper truck. Are tipper truck drivers homocidal morons - or are they trying to respond to ridiculous delivery schedules?

As for the victim. Poor man. I offer my respect. Just trying to get to and from work in an efficient way and risking his life to do it. We live in a country with insane priorities.

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

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1060 posts]
17th June 2014 - 19:04

10 Likes

Sadly, simply looking out for yourself is still the most reliable way of staying safe on our roads. I always advise newcomers to the commute to 'own their space' on the road, use pavements / crossings and or bus stations (as in Vxhl Jct) where it's more sensible to, rather than using dangerous sections of road, as well as to frequently apply the good old life-saver / over shoulder check. A few golden rules for newbies to best counter the vast number of cyclist-unsafe sections of London's roads.

Sadly this similar to the advice I provide. If you want to stay safe on Britain's roads, ride like you own the place. Sure, it'll annoy a few crap drivers but they just want to be annoyed anyway. Take complete control of the lane, ride fast and out in the middle of the lane if you feel nervous, hold people up, exaggerate signals, shout if you need to, make aggressive eye contact with people, show you're in full control. It absolutely works at keeping you safe.

Unfortunately not everyone is this way inclined and we can't expect them to be. It's not the strong we need to protect, it's the weak and the quiet. That's why good infrastructure is needed so everyone can ride in equal safety whether they be a little old, an eight year old child or a Brad wannabe.

posted by samuri [16 posts]
18th June 2014 - 9:07

7 Likes

Vauxhall is one of Londons worst gyratories, and Parry Street is one of the worst bits.
The speed of traffic is high to try and beat the lights, then vehcles drift left as they turn into Parry Street. Even the pavement along there doen't feel safe (I use to use this on runs a few years ago). TfL know this as the one-way sign gets flattened by a vehicle ever few weeks.
With four lanes there is no excuss not to put a segregated lane in here.

posted by thereverent [301 posts]
18th June 2014 - 12:52

2 Likes

Couldn't agree more, I use it regularly and every time I do I wish I hadn't. I'm going to go through the bus stop in future as swapping lanes to go round towards Wandsworth is a nightmare.

posted by Joelsim [1412 posts]
18th June 2014 - 14:00

2 Likes

Is this the junction that was changed about 2000-2003, it was a breeze before the change, and new and improved road layout?

FerrisBFW's picture

posted by FerrisBFW [2 posts]
13th August 2014 - 17:14

0 Likes