The on-going danger posed to London's cyclists by lorries has been tragically illustrated by news of a rider's death in the capital. While road.cc and other media initially reported that two cyclists had died under the wheels of HGVs in separate incidents within a few hours of each other and just miles apart it later transpired that one victim was a pedestrian.
The cyclist's death took place at lunchtime when the rider, believed to be a foreign national, was in collision with a skip lorry at the junction of Tanner Street and Tooley Street in Bermondsey.
The Evening Standard reported that both the cyclist, who was male and aged 20, and the lorry were heading in the same direction, although police said that they have been unable as yet to ascertain the exact facts behind the accident. Police arrested the lorry driver and took him away to be questioned.
The cyclist, who according to witnesses suffered serious head wounds, was taken to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, where he was pronounced dead.
That accident took place just a few hundred yards from the locations where two cyclists – university professor David Vilaseca and medical student Haris Ahmed – were killed early last year.
It is the latest instance of a cyclist being killed by an HGV in Southwark, which for whatever reason seems to attract a large number of fatal accidents to bike riders, particularly in the Bermondsey area.
Two possible reasons for that might be the amount of construction works in the area for projects such as The Shard, and the presence of a massive waste incinerator sandwiched between the railway lines and Millwall FC’s New Den Stadium, with few routes in or out of the site.
Roads running under the viaduct carrying railway lines away from London Bridge station are also used as short cuts by HGVs.
The incident took place just down the road from London’s City Hall, the most powerful occupant of which, Mayor Boris Johnson, came under criticism in October 2009 after deciding to withdraw Transport for London funding from the Metropolitan Police’s Commercial Vehicle Education Unit (CVEU),. The unit inspected lorries in the capital, insisting that the voluntary Freight Operators’ Registration Scheme (FORS) provided an adequate safeguard.
While the CVEU has been reconstituted by the Met as the Commercial Vehicle Unit, operating out of Alperton in North West London, it does not have the same scale of resources or manpower as it used to do.
Critics of the FORS have pointed out that since it is a voluntary scheme, by its very nature it will fail to cover the less scrupulous operators who it is believed account for a disproportionate number of incidents involving HGVs in London.
Anyone with information regarding the accident is asked to contact police there on 020 8285 1574 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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.