Boris Johnson announces review of construction HGVs in London as LCC calls for immediate action over Bow

Mayor reveals results of Bow review available "within weeks," admits he was unaware of report warning of danger

by Simon_MacMichael   November 23, 2011  

Boris Johnson at Cycle Superhighway launch July 2010

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.

8 user comments

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Lets just hope BoJo's " everything possible to make our roads safer for cyclists" will include measures that may un-smooth traffic flow!

posted by bassjunkieuk [31 posts]
23rd November 2011 - 11:01

16 Likes

Nice to see some one trying to do some thing about road safety for cyclist.

posted by moggotlover [13 posts]
23rd November 2011 - 11:07

6 Likes

First, at last TfL is demonstrating a bit of inertia in delivering their statutory duty as prescribed by section 39 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Of course we will need to wait 7 see if it has any effect.

10 years in from H&SExec having a Roads as a workplace group to address the facts that a third of road KSI's involve the use of the road at work, and this is 10% of workplace KSI total a significant area of workplace safety which they had virtually no control on - notable details being the Duty of care of employers and employees to arrange working practices that minimise the risk and equip the employee and equipment with appropriate safety features (training, safe work plan, protective equipment etc)

It has also bee nearly 10 years since City of london Police identified the high risk posed by construction industry vehicles and Cynthia Barlow took RMC on to deliver safer operation from their haulage sub contractors. TfL has a decade of catching up to do, and likewise the Traffic Commissioner (often left like a toothless bulldog when they try to put rogue operators and drivers off the roads, either through their own temerity or the failure of the courts to back them up)

One move that would be useful is to require all LGV's to carry the full contact details for the registered operator on the nearside panel in clear 1" lettering, just as required for PCV's, so any report can be nailed on the operator accurately and directly.

The campaign for ALL road users has to focus on using eyes and ears as key safety equipment. Examine many of the left hook and run-down crashes and wonder if the cyclist was aware of what was looming up behind. You can't do this with earpieces in both ears and distracted by your ipod. Nor can you hear a shouted warning if your windows are wound up and you are chatting on the hands free phone. Eyese are even more important - if you look at the driver in their cab and see they are not looking at you then you need to do something about that, and likewise that cyclist who seems totally oblivious to your presence in a truck needs a short toot to remind them there is another vehicle in the area.

Best campaign for cyclists in London free issue of basic clip on rear view mirror for handlebars/frame on a card that carries the other awareness safety messages Anyone care to sponsor this one?

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [504 posts]
23rd November 2011 - 11:16

13 Likes

1 Assess junction
2 Prepare report
3 Ignore all sensible suggestions in report
4 Goto 1

Idiots. They don't need to look at Bow roundabout. They already have the safety recommendations. They just need to implement them.

Public awareness campaign? "Hello skip lorry drivers. Please stop driving like lunatics. Thanks awfully."

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
23rd November 2011 - 11:25

10 Likes

May I be cynical and suggest that perhaps Boris has finally remembered there's a mayoral election in the near future..?

posted by JonD [213 posts]
23rd November 2011 - 13:41

6 Likes

JonD wrote:
May I be cynical and suggest that perhaps Boris has finally remembered there's a mayoral election in the near future..?

One has to be cynical when discussing politicians. He won't be getting my vote.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
23rd November 2011 - 14:27

14 Likes

Painting a blue line on the side of the road doesn't automatically make the road safe to cycle on. Cycle lane initiatives are based on the false premise that you'll be fine if you stick to the coloured tarmac. And so it has sadly proven at Bow. Lorry/van/bus drivers will always be a major danger for cyclists because they're large vehicle (sometimes driven poorly). For my tax-paid money, Johnson would be better repairing all the pot holes and removing speed bumps than devising superhighway deathtraps.

dullard's picture

posted by dullard [140 posts]
23rd November 2011 - 17:43

10 Likes

Bozo's focussing of his enquiry onto the practices of HGV operators in the city is a neat diversionary tactic to take the heat of himself and TfL, but it won't wash.

Firstly, while we all know that HGVs have a poor reputation as roadkillers, this is not news and there have been reviews of HGV safety before. Nothing much happened after previous reviews.

Secondly, HGV safety is not a matter on which the mayor can have much influence, as safety and licensing standards are largely determined by national or even European law. He can then shrug his shulders and say "nothing I can do, guv"

Finally, while there is no doubt that negligent and even criminal behaviour by HGV drivers and their employers is a significant factor, the peril they represent can at least be mitigated by proper engineering design of our roads, eg better cycle and pedestrian provision. That is in fact within Bozo's power to influence, and yet he has done the square root of f-all about it.

posted by Paul M [325 posts]
23rd November 2011 - 17:50

5 Likes