Father of cyclist killed in London pleads with Mayor Boris Johnson to improve riders' safety

Police seeking "significant witness" to fatal incident in Croydon last Tuesday morning

by Simon_MacMichael   July 19, 2012  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

The father of a cyclist killed last week in Croydon as he rode to work has issued a plea to Mayor of London Boris Johnson to make the capital’s streets safer for bike riders. Neil Turner, aged 31, regularly cycled from his home in Sevenoaks, Kent to his work with London Underground which took him to various tube stations.

Mr Turner, who planned to marry his fiancée next year with whom he has a five-month-old baby, was killed last Tuesday after he was struck by a car in Mitcham Road, Croydon at 5.10am, reports the London Evening Standard. His death is the ninth cycling fatality in London this year.

His family revealed that the driver of the vehicle involved had remained at the scene while emergency services personnel tried in vain to save Mr Turner’s life, with the cause of death given as serious head injury.

The Metropolitan Police have issued an appeal for what is described as a “significant witness” to contact them on on 020 8941 9011.

“The driver had just come back from holiday and had three children in the back of the car," said Mr Turner’s father, Roy. “None of us bear him any malice, it looks like it’s just one of those dreadful things,” he added.

But with more commuters switching to two wheels to avoid traffic congestion and overcrowded trains, he urged Mr Johnson to do more to ensure their safety.

“Neil used to cycle all over the South-East with all his Underground friends, he knew the roads better than anyone,” Mr Turner explained. “He knew how to keep safe.

“When Boris goes out on his bike he’s surrounded by police escorts,” he claimed, “but he needs to make life a bit easier for ordinary cyclists.”

Speaking of his son’s recent fatherhood, Mr Turner continued: “He was so happy. He adored Archie, it was like Loctite when they were together. The baby knows something’s wrong, he’s been upset and starts crying when you cuddle him.”

Mr Turner is just the latest of a number of bereaved relatives who have implored Mr Johnson to make cycle safety a priority. Last November, Debbie Dorling, whose husband Brian was killed by a lorry at Bow Roundabout as he rode to death at the Olympic Park, met with the mayor to express her concerns.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson refuted Mr Turner’s claim that the mayor has a police escort and went on to say: “The loss of any cyclist or road user is a bitter tragedy and the Mayor is determined to do everything possible to make the capital’s roads safer.

“Since the start of his first term, cycling has been a top priority for the Mayor and Transport for London is now spending more than ever before on the cycling programme.”

Following pressure from cycle campaigners and opposition politicians especially in the run-up to May’s mayoral elections which resulted in Mr Johnson being returned for a second term, he has backed the London Cycling Campaign’s Love London Go Dutch campaign.

However, the LCC and others have in the past expressed concerns that the funds pumped into flagship projects such as the Barclays Cycle Superhighways and the Barclays Cycle Hire Schemes have diverted money away from initiatives such as the London orbital route that could make cycling in the capital safer, particularly affecting outlying boroughs such as Croydon.

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I'm a Turner (although no relation to the victim) so perhaps this is the right time to comment. I've started blogging, mostly focused on cycling and particularly on road safety for cyclists. Here are a few examples, so take a look if you like. Essentially, I'm trying to figure out how to really raise the profile of cycle safety, so any help, comments, feedback, suggestions would be very welcome. On the eve of a British Tour winner (fingers crossed) I believe that it is crucial to educate Joe Public about what it takes to make a great racing cyclist - not least the thousands of miles training on our roads, often being bullied, harassed and threatened by motorists:

http://fiftyyearsandcounting.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/give-cyclists-room...

http://fiftyyearsandcounting.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/threatened-with-a-...

http://fiftyyearsandcounting.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/sex-politics-relig...

ColT's picture

posted by ColT [210 posts]
19th July 2012 - 12:11

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“Since the start of his first term, cycling has been a top priority for the Mayor"

What a load of carp. "Smoothing traffic flow" has been the only real priority for him and TfL.

Got any more 'stats' for us, Boris? Cyclists are at fault in what percentage of accidents?

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
19th July 2012 - 12:33

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In just 1 day riding around in London yesterday I had to really make my presence felt with a van driver at Elephant North roundabout even though he could not travel more than 2 feet before ramming the car in front, and was blocking the junction for traffic heading South.

Then at King's Cross I needed to 'tap' on the side of an Addy-Lee car as the driver tried to sidle over into my space, and the crowning moment was when a Govia operated 'decker tried to pass me and turn on the 90 degree left hand bend approaching Euston. So close that I only needed to lift my hand from the bars and swing it sideways to thump his front door pillar. Then he did notice me.

There are times when you need to be a bit pro-active in preserving your safety, and a flat hand slapped down on the roof of an encroaching car has an inescapable effect on those inside.

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

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posted by A V Lowe [481 posts]
19th July 2012 - 12:49

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AV - I've had to resort to the same tactics myself at times. The handslap on the car roof does wake up a dozy driver. There is the risk of course that it'll enrage some borderline psychotic into a violent act. There certainly are a few of those about. It gets up my nose when people in cars or vans simply have to move out of lane in anticipation of a turn, despite the fact that they're blocked from doing so by one or more vehicles stopped in front. When you're on a bicycle (or motorcycle) it is annoying to be stopped by someone who evidently doesn't think.

I hope in this instance the victim's father is able to get a message through to the mayor. There are many safety measures that could be introduced across London that would save vulnerbale road users from injury or death, and not cost a fortune to install or even (dare I say it) reduce traffic flow.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2167 posts]
19th July 2012 - 14:29

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Very sad - as has been pointed out, Boris meets with the bereaved parents of Londoners frequently

Shame it hasn't made any difference so far

posted by fluffy_mike [79 posts]
19th July 2012 - 17:16

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Croydon Cycling Campaign organised a memorial ceremony for Neil, which was attended by his family and local cyclists.

You can read coverage of this at http://croydoncyclists.org.uk/in-memory-of-neil-turner/

posted by austen.croydonc... [10 posts]
26th July 2012 - 16:20

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If the roads are as wonderful as government makes out why don't politicians show us and go cycling without police escorts?! Wouldn't be long before one of them was 'accidentally' killed or maimed but I suspect they'd still praise the wonder of the motor vehicle as they were scraped off the floor. Just total lunacy isn't it?

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [124 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 13:26

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In Boris' defence (and trust me, I didn't vote for him) I've passed him on his bike twice. He was totally unescorted and alone. Both times riding after dark. So I assume he does at least have a rough idea.

The simple fact of the matter is that the bulk of his voters drive cars - and he knows it. All his legislation, from the scrapping of the congestion charge western extension to his strategy for the 'smoothing traffic flow' through London are there to appease the motorist.

This makes sure that those who live in the outer boroughs still give him their ballot paper. The man is no fool, just an astute politician.

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posted by mr-andrew [295 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 13:50

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