Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced a review of HGVs operated by the construction industry in the capital as well as giving an update on the review by Transport for London (TfL) into the safety of cyclists at junctions on the city’s Barclays Cycle Superhighways. The first to be reviewed is Bow Roundabout, where two cyclists have lost their lives in recent weeks, both in incidents involving tipper lorries. Mr Johnson met the family of one of those cyclists, Brian Dorling, yesterday.
Following that meeting at City Hall, Mr Johnson spoke of the efforts his team were making in trying to make the streets safer for cyclists and expressed his sympathy to the Dorling family.
However, the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has called for changes to be made to the Bow roundabout immediately, and has revealed that at yesterday's meeting with the Dorling family, the mayor had said he was unaware of a report regarding the danger to cyclists posed by the junction ahead of the Barclays Cycle Superhighway being put in place there last year.
"I feel bitterly sorry for the loss of any cyclist or any road user on the streets of London and I offered my most humble condolences to the family of Brian Dorling today,” Mr Johnson said in a statement released by his office last night.
“This has been a distressing time for families and friends of the cyclists involved in recent accidents and nothing I say will diminish their loss.
“But I am determined to do everything possible to make our roads safer for cyclists and I have asked TfL to embark on a great deal of work to do so.
“I do want to reassure Londoners that at a time when record numbers are cycling the statistics show that our streets are getting safer; however we will do our utmost to minimise any future casualties and are focusing on several key areas where we believe improvements might be made."
But today, LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha, referring to the report conducted by Jacobs Consultancy, said, "It’s a tragedy it has taken two cyclist deaths in three weeks to bring this vital report on the dangers at Bow to the Mayor’s attention."
Mr Sinha called for urgent action to be taken, saying, "He must act immediately to implement the report’s recommendations to make the junctions safe."
Those recommendations included signalised crossings for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as separate, off-carriageway cycle lanes.
"“Every report and review of Bow roundabout has identified it as a hazardous junction that needs to be redesigned to ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians," added Mr Sinha.
"A further review will only delay the urgent changes needed to prevent further casualties."
As we reported at the weekend the mayor has asked TfL to undertake a safety review of all major schemes planned on the roads it manages, as well as each junction on the Barclays Cycle Superhighways.
The first to be reviewed will be Bow Roundabout, where the 58-year-old Mr Dorling lost his life on 24 October. Less than three weeks later, a second cyclist, Svitlana Tereschenko, aged 34.
The lorry drivers involved in both incidents were each arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, and both have been bailed.
A statement from the mayor’s office said that results of TfL’s review of the Bow Roundabout would be available “within weeks, with all remaining junctions reviewed on a prioritised basis between now and the spring.”
TfL will also be commissioning “an independent review of the design, operation and driving of construction industry vehicles, for example skip lorries, tipper trucks and cement mixers in London,” which the statement says “have been involved in at least seven of the eight incidents [involving lorries – ed] this year which have led to cyclist fatalities”. The first results from that will be available in Spring 2012.
A series of public awareness campaigns is also being devised targeting all road users, with the first of those, which is aimed at making sure drivers keep a lookout for cyclists, going live this week. There will also be a separate campaign regarding the safety of cyclists around HGVs.
The statement adds that the various initiatives being undertaken will involve input from relevant groups including the haulage and construction industries, cycling campaigners, and representatives from local communities.
Both reviews will be keenly scrutinised by all those with an interest in the safety of cyclists in the capital, and concrete action will be demanded; as Danny Williams points out in a considered response to the mayor’s announcement on his Cyclists in the City blog, there is little evidence of conditions being improved for cyclists following a previous, six-year study of every major junction in the city.
“What this comes down to is whether or not you can trust the Mayor to come good on this review,” he writes.
“Bow is his first chance to get it right and to undo the massive amount of damage I think he has done in recent weeks. It had better be a bloody good review. And an even better commitment to deliver. And there needs to be tangible evidence of more to come. At Blackfriars, for example. And at Oval. All places where cyclists have been killed in the name of faster motor traffic.”
Mr Johnson and TfL at least have an opportunity to change things for the better. Sadly, there will be no second chances for Mr Dorling, Ms Tereschenko or any of the dozens of other cyclists who have lost their lives on London’s streets in recent years.
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.