Yet another fatality in Southwark

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.


timlennon [210 posts] 6 years ago

It's really hard to say to friends "It's Ok to cycle in London, really: it's quite safe!" when we keep seeing stories like this.

God knows some cyclists don't help themselves with the way they choose to cycle (and I stress I have no additional information about how these two incidents have happened), but even so, the vulnerability of anyone walking or on two wheels to one of these huge vehicles is just terrifying.

I hope this will galvanise some action on the part of Tfl and Boris, but I'm sorry to say I'm not holding my breath.

LondonCalling [151 posts] 6 years ago

According to a tweet from TomSEdwards (Transport correspondent, BBC London), the first incident in Lambeth was not a cyclist.

thereverent [456 posts] 6 years ago

Sad news.

The Evening Standard seems to now report the first victim was a pedestrian rather than a cyclist.
The location of the second looks like Tooley Street/Jamaica Road. That part of the road is narrowed by a traffic island and has railing on the left hand side, so no escape route if anything happens.
I wish TfL and London concils would get a move on with removing more railing as they are so dangerous.

duncr [4 posts] 6 years ago

I work on Tooley Street and the corner where the cyclist was killed is notorious for HGVs flying round the corner. The problem is cyclists heading west into town have to cross the traffic from the inside to get onto the cycle path that goes the wrong way up Tooley Street. Lorries use this route off Jamaica Rd to get into Tower Bridge Road and go across Tower Bridge and of course head to the Shard site near London Bridge. RIP cyclists

OldRidgeback [2871 posts] 6 years ago

It's sad to hear of yet more fatalities in London, whether of cyclists or pedestrians. The junction at Lambeth Town Hall is a complex one but the crossings are reasonably well laid out. However it is a very busy junction and not all drivers, or pedestrains, observe the rules. It remains to be seen what was the cause of this fatality.

As regards the Southwark incident, I believe it is no coincidence that the vehicle involved was a skip lorry. I've commented previously on this website regarding the particular risks involved to other road users posed by this type of vehicle. To what degree driver error played a role in this fatality will become clear in due course.

WolfieSmith [1395 posts] 6 years ago

A skip lorry. Very predictable. Everytime I'm out and hear behind me the clanging of a empty skip lorry being driven at speed by an angry man I pray..