Mayor of London calls for tougher driving test to make drivers more aware of cyclists

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has written to Transport Secretary Lord Adonis to urge the government to alter driving tests to ensure that drivers are compelled to take more notice of cyclists.

According to the Evening Standard, Mr Johnson wrote his letter after a 31-year-old woman on Monday became the seventh cyclist to be killed on London’s roads this year.

The victim, Zoe Sheldrake, from Borehamwood, was killed after being struck by a black Audi on the A41 Edgware Way, near junction 4 of the M1, at 7.30am on Monday morning.

The newspaper reported that the car’s driver, a 49-year-old male, had been arrested and taken to a police station in North London, where he was bailed to return on 28 June while the police make further enquiries.

In his letter, Mr Johnson told Lord Adonis: “We feel that there is merit in examining whether the standard driving test for car drivers should be tightened further to ensure the needs of vulnerable road users are fully understood by new drivers.”

Ms Sheldrake, who worked as a massage therapist, had been training to be a personal fitness instructor, and her father told the Evening Standard that he and his wife were “falling apart.”

Mr Sheldrake said: “We are absolutely devastated. I just can't believe that she's gone. My son Robert is finding it really difficult. My wife is crying all the time.

“When I was told Zoe had been in a fatal accident the first thing I did was pick up the phone and try to call her. She did so much and had so much to look forward to in her life.”

He continued: “She was only on that road because she was trying to get fit so she could become a fitness instructor. She was doing a lot of cycling.

“Just a few weeks ago we had an argument about her not wearing a helmet so I bought her one. Since then she had been so safety conscious. She was so careful.”

Mr Sheldrake added: “I can't fathom how it happened. How could someone travelling in a car not see Zoe on a bike? People tried to help her at the scene. The air ambulance was there, and there were two doctors working on her, trying to bring her back.”

During 2009, 13 cyclists were killed on London’s roads. A spokesman for Transport for London told the newspaper: “Every cycle death is a tragedy and we are doing everything we can to increase cyclists' safety.”

He added: “The number killed or seriously injured on London's roads has fallen by around a fifth in the last decade, despite the fact that cycle journeys have more than doubled.”

Police are seeking witnesses to Monday’s accident, and anyone with relevant information is asked to call 020 8998 5319.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.


alotronic [544 posts] 7 years ago

Extension to driving test for car drivers:

Stand with your eyes closed while a car drives up behind you at 50 mph and misses you by 3 feet. For motor cyclists make that 100 mph and 2 feet.

Everything else is too cerebral.

STATO [546 posts] 7 years ago

Id like to see some stats on 'killer drivers' and how long it was since they passed their test. Id bet pretty high that most will have had a licence for at least 5 years, therefore what is the point in making a test they wont take more difficult?

Simon E [3225 posts] 7 years ago

“We feel that there is merit in examining whether the standard driving test for car drivers should be tightened further to ensure the needs of vulnerable road users are fully understood by new drivers.”

Absolutely! Vote Boris for president  3

But existing drivers are just as bad - the aggressiveness and lack of consideration shown these days is shocking. The driver in the above article was 49 and driving a black Audi, that doesn't sound like someone who has just passed their test.

the-daily-ripper [174 posts] 7 years ago

just needs to be some really aggressive enforcement and sentencing. if people know they'll get caught and their punishment is sufficient, it'll naturally fall.

I haven't committed murder yet, as I don't want to be bum-raped in jail for 12 years.

skippy [416 posts] 7 years ago

Tired of having to go thru the repeat of the "Ads" to access comments! i even get "welcome back" before i get "Access Denied" TWICE !!

Fact is most drivers were cyclists before they became "drivers", are they so bad at driving that they cannot recall the dangers they encountered as cyclists or are they "Bullying the cyclist" now that they are an "adult"?

Drivers should be retested regularly both practical & theory wise this alone will cause a growth industry in services surrounding road usuage. Think of all those Police Officers achieving a result instead of in hiding with their radar guns! For most the testing will remind them of how to be conscientious,attentive and considerate to their fellow road users but more importantly the change in attitude will save money on fuel ,tyres and vehicle maintainance.
Some road services will suffer such as car repair shops as less accidents coming about through negligent attitudes!
Pipe dream!!

mrchrispy [502 posts] 7 years ago

poor lass.
my money is 6 points for driver.

Recumbenteer [174 posts] 7 years ago

Irrespective of many drivers having taken their test some time ago and not being affected. The reason for a test that emphasises the requirements of vulnerable road users remains. When a driver loses their licence and they are forced to take a retest, they will have to take the new more stringent test.

There is also the existing extended test, which I understand is already a real bastard to pass.

I understand that drivers can now be banned indefinitely.

BTW under the new drivers scheme, new drivers can lose their licence if they accrue only six points [normally this is 12 points]. Many of these disqualified drivers do not retake their tests. Which means they are unlicenced, uninsured and doubtless their cars are unroadworthy.