It may be a horrible coincidence but the situation with the Crossrail roadworks around London's Oxford Street has been a mess for many months now - "an accident waiting to happen" as one cycling forum poster put it yesterday - and on Wednesday a 26-year-old woman on her bicycle was crushed by a bus and later died in hospital.
The major roadworks on Oxford St and the surrounding area have narrowed the road to a single lane where buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians are all jostling for, at best, snail's pace progress and tempers get frayed. Our own London correspondent T R McGowran was only telling us, ironically on Wednesday, what a nightmare cycling on Oxford St is and we have first hand experience from a recent trip to the capital where our friends at CycleFit off Drury Lane said not on any account to take the Oxford St route back to Paddington. We wish we'd taken their advice.
The London Cycling Campaign's Cycling Development Officer Charlie Lloyd says, "Individual fatalities are very distressing but it not possible to see any trend with such a small number. Casualty stats never make sense in a single year’s data (but) Oxford St and the Crossrail works are a different issue. Even before (this cyclist) was killed there were complaints from all sides. Transport for London (TfL) have been very quick to say all the good things they are doing for us, but there seems to have been a failure of organisation between the different arms of TfL in Oxford St."
A Transport for London spokesperson said, “We were very saddened to hear that a cyclist died following a collision with a route 390 bus on Oxford Street on 14 April. Our thoughts and sympathies are with her family and friends at this time. We will work with the police and the bus operating company, Metroline, to fully investigate the incident.
She continued, “Accidents such as the one on Oxford Street on Wednesday are rare. In the past four years, three cyclists have been killed following a collision with a bus on London’s roads, despite the fact that around half a million cycle journeys and 6.4 million bus journeys are made on the Capital’s roads every day. Nevertheless, we
take every such accident very seriously and work with London’s bus operating companies to ensure bus drivers are trained in how to share road space with cyclists.”
The spokesperson concludes, "Since 2000, there has been a 21% fall in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on London’s roads, compared to the mid to late 1990s. At the same time, there has been a 107% increase in the number of cycle journeys made on London’s roads in the past decade. The safety of London’s cyclists is a huge priority for both the Mayor and TfL and we are committed to making cycling in London as safe as possible.
TfL's Cycle Safety Action Plan can be viewed here.
The London Cycling Campaign are here.