US cycle campaigner joins London lorries debate

Joe Mizereck suggests 'Please Look' signs around the capital

by Tom Henry   March 12, 2010  

PLEASE-LOOK_RGB2.jpg

A terrible week for London cyclists – in terms of two fatalities on the capital's streets – has prompted an open letter to Boris Johnson from US cycling campaigner Joe Mizereck.

As road.cc readers will remember, Joe is behind a campaign called 3 Feet Please (www.3feetplease.com) which urges drivers to keep at least that distance away from cyclists. He's received a tremendous amount of support both here and in the US for the campaign.

This week, Boris Johnson launched his Cycle Safety Accident Plan aimed to improving safety between cyclists and HGVs. However, he has not gone back on his decision to close the Commercial Vehicle Education Unit, to the fury of Londoners who see that HGVs are the single biggest cause of cyclist fatalities in the capital.

In his letter, Joe says: “Mayor Johnson. I have been following cycling activities around the world. I know you and your team are working to address the issues that cyclists and motorists encounter every day in your great city. The lorry/cyclist issue is certainly on top of your list.

“I do not suggest that I have the solution, but I do think I have what might be a part of the solution: reminding motorists to PLEASE LOOK for cyclists. Motorist inattention and/or unconcern are two of the key factors leading to cycling incidents with cyclists worldwide—they just don’t see cyclists. One reason for this is they just aren’t looking. Helping motorists remember to LOOK and when to LOOK…can save lives. I believe if lorry drivers could be reminded to LOOK for cyclists at critical points, they would LOOK and they would see the cyclists alongside them and avoid collisions with them…and the loss of life.

“Here is what I would like for you and your team to consider: placing “Please LOOK” signs (see attached) at intersections to remind motorists to LOOK for cyclists. Simple? Yes. And yet, it just may be the most critical stimulus that triggers motorists’ attention to their surrounding environment causing them to LOOK and see the cyclist…and avoiding contact. Over time, the hope is that motorists will become more sensitive to LOOKING for cyclists…with and without signage.

“Mr. Mayor, if you decide to incorporate the PLEASE LOOK signage into your cycling plan, I will find the resources to fund the production of the signs needed for placement at critical points in your great city.

I want to help you save lives, Mayor Johnson. Let’s find a way to make this happen.”

On Tuesday, 21-year-old Muhammed Ahmed, a medical students, was killed instantly when a tipper truck crushed him near London Bridge. The following day, a cyclist on her way to work was killed in a collision with a skip lorry which crushed her against railings at a roundabout. The 28-year-old woman, who has not been named, suffered terrible injuries outside Victoria Park in east London.

 

5 user comments

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Its a nice idea, but i can't help wondering if too much street furniture is actually part of the problem? The number of different signs and railings in london is already ridiculous. Every bus lane has a different time limit posted, theres a huge number of one-way streets and bus-only turning and other restrictions. Its all stuff taking away drivers attention from other road users.

posted by ribena [145 posts]
12th March 2010 - 10:43

2 Likes

All drivers and cyclists need to be face much stricter penalties for accidents, road users would be safer then.

Every day cars pass me at a good 40mph+ in a 30 zone, often far too close and squeezing between pedestrian islands and me, then brake hard for the speed camera 100-200yds up ahead. I mean, EVERY day when i pass that spot. That says that my safety is no concern to them, but getting 3 points is.
They don't brake for me or slow up anyone else, such as a child that may run into the road in a residential area like that unless forced to. They care about getting caught on camera as it's a real and present risk, whereas the risk of an accident is not considered, not important or diffused in their minds by perceptions of thier skill as a driver, crumple zones and ABS.

So, let's stop faffing around with nice slogans and campaigns that address just one aspect of the problem. We all need to demand and accept stiffer penalties for not accepting the responsibility that goes with sharing the road, whether on 2 wheels or 4. It's that simple.

To Joe, again i appreciate what you're doing but i think that only a co-ordinated call for tougher penalties will work here, too many drivers here seem to rely on 'my right of way, i'm coming through' attitudes and a weakest/slowest-loses approach when using the roads in busy cities. Lives are more important than journey times and we need a government with the balls to make unpopular decisions such as stiffer penalties for causing accidents. Driving is a privilege, not a right. That privilege should only be for those that can accept the responsibilty.

Please look? Why are we being so polite here? How about we DEMAND we all give other road users the room and respect they deserve whatever vehicle they choose. If not, face the consequences. This whole issue has gone beyond being polite and asking for room. It won't ever work because it won't register with the few idiots who just don't care. Penalties will though. I realise that penalties mean an incident has occurred and this 'look' idea is more about prevention, but long-term only penalties and the media attention that would bring will change habits and attitudes, the message it sends is 'this is important, we're serious'. Using the phone while driving, speed limits, they all need stricter enforcement as it's clear currently it isn't working well enough.

To support this opinion i'm posting this link again, to a blog that goes a long way towards explaining the mentality behind our lax road penalties and the fears of 'war on the motorist' as the tabloids like to call it - http://thecyclingsilk.blogspot.com/2009/11/cycling-against-car-culture.html

a recommended read.

posted by james-o [212 posts]
12th March 2010 - 15:32

2 Likes

+1. Absolutely.

TiNuts's picture

posted by TiNuts [95 posts]
12th March 2010 - 16:49

2 Likes

Cycling through Clapham in South london on Saturday I was appalled at the arrogance of the vehicle drivers, like the guy in the big Merc who tailed me up the bus lane so he could undertake a strong of cars on the inside. But worst of all was the artic driver who started to overtake and then cut in. If I hadn't dived off the road and onto the pavement, I'd have gone under the rear wheels of his truck. I've been cycling in London for over 20 years but in a short stretch of road I had three close calls, with the last being the artic. Soon as I could I got off the road and cycled out on the windy common.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2296 posts]
15th March 2010 - 9:15

2 Likes

Finally, I have been begging, pleading, praying for months for someone, anyone to listen and find a way to do the right thing---ban the lorries in central London. And now, good news, after, what 15 or more cyclists being killed by lorries in London this year, there is a voice saying, " This unnecessary death toll cannot be ignored any longer." Thank you Dr Andrei Morgan.

So, that's the good news and the great news, the truly great news will be when London's cyclists can ride up to an intersection and they look to their right and there is no fear of being killed.

Mayor Johnson, please sir, walk the talk and do the right thing. Erase these vehicles of death from central London's roadways and stop the unnecessary loss of cyclists' lives.

Thank you,
Joe Mizereck
Founder, The "3 Feet Please" Campaign

joemizereck's picture

posted by joemizereck [17 posts]
18th November 2010 - 18:14

2 Likes