London cyclists 78 times more likely to die in collision with lorry than one with a car

TfL data highlight increased risk posed by lorries on capital's streets

by Simon_MacMichael   January 4, 2012  

London Concrete lorry and bikes (copyright Simon MacMichael)

London cyclists are 78 times more likely to die if they are involved in a collision with a lorry compared to one with a car. That’s one of the key findings of analysis conducted by The Daily Telegraph into Transport for London (TfL) data regarding cyclist casualties in the capital in the 12 months to July 2011. The TfL report is attached as a PDF file at the end of this article.

During that period, 12 cyclists were killed in London, two thirds of those in collisions involving HGVs, says the newspaper. However, in calendar year 2011, the toll was higher, with 16 cyclists losing their lives in the city, nine of those after being hit by lorries.

In all, there were 4,274 reported incidents involving cyclists, of which 11 per cent resulted in the rider suffering serious injury – a rate of more than one a day.

Infographics produced by the Telegraph based on the TfL data include an interactive map of blackspots, and a chart that confirms that the morning rush hour sees the highest number of incidents.

The most chilling graphic is the one that shows the percentage of collisions involving cyclists and other vehicles that result in the rider being killed.

Only one in a thousand (0.1 per cent) of collisions with a car resulted in the death of a cyclist in the period analysed.

That rose to one in 200 (0.5 per cent) where the vehicle was a taxi, and just under one in 150 (0.68 per cent) where small and medium goods vehicles were involved.

However, where the incident involved a large HGV or other oversized vehicle, 7.94 per cent – nearly one in 12 – resulted in the cyclist being killed.

While the longer term picture suggests that a disproportionate number of female cyclists are the victims of fatal incidents involving HGVs, the period that is the subject of the TfL data does not bear that out, with two women killed following collisions with lorries during the period.

London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has a long-running 'No More Lethal Lorries' campaign that focuses on the safety of cyclists around HGVs.

Commenting on the TfL data, Tom Bogdanowicz, campaigns manager at LCC, told the Telegraph that the figures emphasised the “urgent” need for lorry drivers to receive cycle awareness training.

"The data showing the far higher risk of serious injury in collisions with HGVs emphasises the urgent need for all lorry operators, especially councils, to provide specialised awareness training for drivers which is now available as part of the TfL Freight Operators Recognition Scheme (FORS)”, he continued.

“It is unacceptable that a third of London councils have still not joined FORS, the quality standard for lorry operators."

This year, LCC’s key campaign in the run-up to the London Mayoral Elections is called ‘Go Dutch’ and calls for “clear space, Dutch-style, for cycling along major roads in every London borough.”

lcc.org.uk/pages/go-dutch

"When you ask people to share space with fast-moving vehicles this is what happens”, said LCC spokesman Mike Cavenett of the TfL data.

“The question is why are there so many cycling casualties full-stop. Sweden has a zero-fatality policy, this is where London should be heading."

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9 user comments

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The junctions I know are badely designed had plenty of incidents around them.
Surely this should be a guide for TfL to where they need to improve the roads for cyclists.

One thing that did stand out looking at areas of London I know well, was how many accidents were on small side streets. I don't know if some of these may have been at a junction with a larger road, but still it was surprising.
These are the streets new cyclists are often advised to use to avoid busy streets.

posted by thereverent [298 posts]
4th January 2012 - 13:36

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Of course when you mingle humans among heavy moving plant there will be fatals. It's a no brainer. If we rode down railway lines would we blame trains or airport runways the planes? Cyclists must accept that human flesh amongst heavy machinery will bring tragedy. It's no good being indignant about that fact. It is almost criminal to ignore it and thus encourage others to place themselves in such danger too. Cycling on busy roads, and especially those with blind bends too, is very risky.

posted by Driver Protest Union [17 posts]
6th January 2012 - 20:52

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From what I've seen, the majority of LGV v cycle incidents are caused by the cyclist being stupid. It is FAR safer to stay behind a truck than try to squeeze past and realise that they then move off before you've got clear!!

If a truck (or any large vehicle) is in a stationary queue of traffic it is ONLY safe to pass them if you can be absolutely certain that they cannot move until you are completely clear of them, and far enough ahead that the driver can see you. If you cannot be absolutely certain that you can get clear then STAY BEHIND and give them room!!

I have seen this problem from both sides as a cyclist, and a truck enthusiast, with several LGV drivers as friends.

posted by keith_newnham [59 posts]
6th January 2012 - 22:16

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As A lorry driver and cyclist said, "you can put as many mirrors on a truck as you like but the driver only has one pair of eyes."

I've seen cyclists trying to squeeze past trucks who have their left indicators flashing, surely the cyclists have no idea of self preservation? Each accident needs to be analysed to root cause and if it is the case of cyclists being stupid there isn't much you can do about this type of accident.

I wonder how many accidents are caused by cyclists jumping red lights, very common here around Bristol.

Mixte Rider

posted by adriank999 [64 posts]
7th January 2012 - 14:43

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adriank999 wrote:
I wonder how many accidents are caused by cyclists jumping red lights, very common here around Bristol.

according to official stats, very few.

http://road.cc/content/news/12065-cyclists-not-blame-road-casualties-say...

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7317 posts]
7th January 2012 - 15:08

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Driver Protest Union - We all have the same rights to use the roads we all pay for in our taxes. Driving something big and heavy should bring an additional responsibility, not a sense of invulnerability and "the other person's fault".

Not so much a six pack as a barrel!

posted by Bigfoz [62 posts]
7th January 2012 - 16:09

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Responsibility rests with both drivers and cyclists, just because you are a cyclist doesn't give you the right to do daft things and then blame the other party if you get hurt.

I'm thinking of getting a bike cam as even though I am now a leisure cyclist I reckon one if every 5 rides exposes me to stupid car drivers, oh and getting hit by cyclists when I stop for a red light. Smile

Mixte Rider

posted by adriank999 [64 posts]
7th January 2012 - 16:39

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DPU - what do you suggest? Ban anything with that does not have at least 4 wheels from the roads? Everyone has a right to the roads, pedestrian, cyclist, horse rider, motorist. Yes, there are individuals within the vunerable road user catagory that are irresponsible BUT motorists are also responsibile for being aware of what's going on around them. That is why they are licenced. Simply put, they are in a vehicle that is heavier, less manueverable and faster than other road users. I have been driving for over 25 years and over those years I have seen driving skills and manners deteriate and not just young drivers - it's right accross the board.

Our roads are not dangerous because of slow moving traffic. Our roads are dangerous because of poorly designed junctions and impatient motorists. If road planners paid more attention to how the roads are used and by whom then they would be much safer.

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posted by giff77 [1048 posts]
8th January 2012 - 8:49

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I think that if some kind of practical cycling module were a requirement for getting a commercial driving license then I think we would have drivers with a vital understanding of a cyclist's vulnerabilities.

This isn't to say that cyclists don't potentially share some of the blame. I've seen some reckless behavior, sure, but I'll say that more often cyclists are putting themselves in jeopardy for the simple mistake of timing something incorrectly or not comprehending the turning radius of a large vehicle. These are deadly mistakes however, and something must be done to reduce the death rate whilst preserving our right (speaking as a cyclist) to the road.

Lastly, and I'm just spitballing here: what about barriers that dropped down from the back of heavy goods vehicles to block the "death zone" from filling up with cyclists? (replete with warning alarms and audio)."

posted by Viro Indovina [78 posts]
9th January 2012 - 19:31

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