Transport for London has defended its record on road safety after its own figures revealed that buses in the capital are involved in an average of two incidents per day with cyclists or pedestrians.
The London Evening Standard says that according to TfL figures quoted by Conservative members of the London Assembly, during the past six years there have been a total of 145,533 ‘accidents’ involving buses.
It's not clear whether the incidents are confined to physical collisions, or include those for example where the driver has had to hit the brakes and log a report without the vehicle actually striking the vulnerable road user involved.
Of those 'accidents,' 3,591 involved pedestrians and 1,219 cyclists, equivalent to three incidents every two days relating to those on foot, and one every other day for bike riders – combined, that’s a total of 15 each week.
Conservative Assembly Member Roger Evans commented: “We need reassurances on how [the police] can work with TfL to ensure their drivers are operating safely.”
In response, Mike Weston, Operations Director of London Buses at TfL, maintained that there had been an improvement in the network’s record when it came to bus safety.
“These figures need to be taken in the context of the huge scale of London’s bus network,” he insisted, “8,500 buses and six million journeys a day.
“The proportion of bus collisions is actually very small and falling. Buses were involved with just five per cent of the most serious collisions on London’s roads over the last few years.
He added: “There is no room for complacency, and the Mayor and Transport for London are working with pedestrian, cycling and safety stake holders to develop both a pedestrian safety action plan and a huge range of initiatives to further improve cycle safety.”
According to TfL, there has been a 40 per cent decline in the number of incidents involving pedestrians and a fall of 50 per cent in those with cyclists from 2007/08 and 2011/12, although the Standard says, albeit without elaboration, that “how they calculate the figures partly explained the fall.”
Buses have been involved in the death of several cyclists in London in recent years, including Dan Harris, killed last August by a shuttle bus ferrying media between Olympic venues, Jayne Helliwell, crushed by a bus on Oxford Street in April 2010, and Dorothy Elder, dragged under a bus in Bloomsbury in November 2009.
However, lorries, and construction vehicles in particular, are regarded as presenting the greatest risk to cyclists on the city’s streets – according to London Cycling Campaign, they make up 5 per cent of the capital’s traffic, but are responsible for around 50 per cent of cyclist fatalities.
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.