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“I will never ride my bike again,” says bereaved 22-year-old

The latest cyclist to be killed by a tipper truck in London has been named as 21-year-old nursing assistant Maria Karsa.

Maria was on her way to work at the Royal London Hospital on the morning of Sunday September 15 when she was hit by a truck on the Aldgate gyratory. She was taken to Royal London Hospital and kept on life support until the evening of Sunday September 22 when the support was turned off.

Her boyfriend, 22-year-old Tony Young told the Evening Standard: “The last week has probably been the worst experience of my life.

“It was really hard when we got the call to go to the hospital and they said what they had to do. It’s like someone just stabbed you in the chest.

“Her mum is distraught. Maria was a big part of her life.”

Tony criticised London’s authorities for promoting cycling without taking steps to protect bike riders from the dangers of motor vehicles.

“I will never ride my bike again,” he said. “They have been parading all these ways of putting people on bikes but at the same time they are not doing enough to keep us safe.

“With all the mandatory things they could have put in place, you just wonder whether it could have been different.”

Tony added that drivers of large vehicles should have to take cycle awareness courses.

Maria lived in Newington Green, North London with her mother and sister. She had been planning to begin a university degree in nursing next year.

Details of the collision have not yet emerged, but the location, the Aldgate area near the start of Cycle Superhighway 2, is one of London’s most dangerous cycling black spots.

Cycling activists have been campaigning for years for changes to make it safer for cyclists. After the death of French student Philippine de Gerin-Ricard in July, Andrew Gilligan, Mayor’s cycling commissioner, announced that it would be rebuilt.

Maria Karsa was the eighth cyclist to die on London's roads so far this year. Six fatalities have involved HGVs and four of those were construction tipper trucks.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

22 comments

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jollygoodvelo [1682 posts] 4 years ago
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There are no winners in this situation, are there. I usually dislike the 'voice of the victim' in these situations ("Bring back hanging!" No. Don't be ridiculous.) but the more I think of it the more this is a catastrophic failure of society.

The girl wasn't part of 'the cycling revolution'. She was just riding to work. The laws of the land and the enforcement thereof should mean that people simply going about their business are free and safe to do so. In this case - regardless of *blame* and circumstances - a girl is dead because the standards of riding and/or driving and perhaps the construction of the road created a situation where someone made a fatal mistake.

Yes, we need safer roads. Yes, we need safer trucks. Yes, we need more road riding training for cyclists - especially un-interested non-Lycra purely-functional cyclists. Perhaps, and I hate to say it, the only way to stop these things happening is to force cyclists to undergo some sort of training, and have a card that must be carried proving they've done it (probably just for built-up areas like inside the M25).

Because every time this happens, a dozen people stop riding.

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gazza_d [472 posts] 4 years ago
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calling for cyclist training, and effectively licencing, is completely hitting the wrong target, and is like teaching people how to dodge bullets.

The roads need to be made safer, and the best way to achive that and make the majority of the population fell that cycling is a safe form of transport is seperatation from vehicles. If you would be happy with your child/mum/grandparent riding that stretch then it is right.

Take road space away from cars/trucks etc and give to cycles as protected space.

Prohibit and or limit the number of trucks allowed in London and other cities during certain times, especially construction vehicles which seem to be responsible for a majority of these tragedies.

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Not KOM [79 posts] 4 years ago
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I just ...

Christ, I'm so sorry for that man. I cannot imagine what that must feel like.

The whole thing is horrendous.

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Mostyn [400 posts] 4 years ago
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This is yet again another tragedy; a young lady has lost her life. Why is there no media campaign to hilight the need for all motorists to : THINK BICYCLE and consider the consequences of their actions when driving. Think Twice before turning left; or squeezing a cyclist in towards the Kerb-side. Driver education is surely the way forward.

Cycling is certainly on the increase in the UK. More care needs to be taken on the roads, also need to alter the attitude towards cycling of some motorists using our highways.

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notfastenough [3728 posts] 4 years ago
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Agreed, not KOM.

Re the training/infrastructure thing, sure the infrastructure would be great, but realistically, it's either not going to happen, or it's going to take ages. In the meantime, individual training could be the difference between life and death.

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Colin Peyresourde [1820 posts] 4 years ago
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Gizmo_ wrote:

The girl wasn't part of 'the cycling revolution'. She was just riding to work. The laws of the land and the enforcement thereof should mean that people simply going about their business are free and safe to do so. In this case - regardless of *blame* and circumstances - a girl is dead because the standards of riding and/or driving and perhaps the construction of the road created a situation where someone made a fatal mistake.

Yes, we need safer roads. Yes, we need safer trucks. Yes, we need more road riding training for cyclists - especially un-interested non-Lycra purely-functional cyclists. Perhaps, and I hate to say it, the only way to stop these things happening is to force cyclists to undergo some sort of training, and have a card that must be carried proving they've done it (probably just for built-up areas like inside the M25).

Because every time this happens, a dozen people stop riding.

Agree - though a cycling proficiency certificate should be enough. London is a bit of a different beast. I think that the accessibility (Boris Bikes, bike lanes and the fact that there are cyclists everywhere) gives a false sense of security to the uninitiated. It is not something to be taken as a flight of fancy - much like driving a car.

Whereas in a car the licence is there for safety of everyone else, a cycling licence/proficiency is there for the riders safety. And before people go ballistic, you do the same with scuba diving, and skiing/snowboarding. No one unleashes you into these dangers without checking that you know how to keep yourself safe.....cycling and these other sports are all in the same travel insurance catagory incidentally, and that shouldn't be a surprise!

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Colin Peyresourde [1820 posts] 4 years ago
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gazza_d wrote:

calling for cyclist training, and effectively licencing, is completely hitting the wrong target, and is like teaching people how to dodge bullets.

The roads need to be made safer, and the best way to achive that and make the majority of the population fell that cycling is a safe form of transport is seperatation from vehicles. If you would be happy with your child/mum/grandparent riding that stretch then it is right.

Take road space away from cars/trucks etc and give to cycles as protected space.

Prohibit and or limit the number of trucks allowed in London and other cities during certain times, especially construction vehicles which seem to be responsible for a majority of these tragedies.

Nope. It's like scuba diving or any other 'slightly dangerous' leisure activity. There is a risk with it, and the best way of controlling that is by knowing how to cycle safely, many people don't on evidence of the streets of London.

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ribena [185 posts] 4 years ago
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The accident has occured on horrendous 3-lane gyratory system known as an accident black spot, by a truck with huge blind spots that could easily be removed, and yet people are saying the cyclist should have had more training despite no further details being available??

Cycling needs to be made as easy as walking. Its not intrinsically dangerous, we've made it dangerous.

Scubda diving and Snowboarding are similar to Mountain Biking, the risk is from your own actions.

This isn't the case with people cycling to work. Most deaths are not the cyclists fault.
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3758677.ece

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mrmo [2096 posts] 4 years ago
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cycle training should IMO be compulsary at school, but it misses the point in this case.

there are too many trucks on the road at the wrong times and often being driven dangerously.

Don't blame the victim, figure out what went wrong and DO SOMETHING!!!!!

No more talk, we have had too many words. Lets see real investment, real policing.

Those cyclists who do stupid things need to be punished/educated, those drivers who do stupid things need to have there licences removed.

How often does a driver try and overtake, approacjing a traffic island, a turn, on coming traffic, etc etc. Educating the cyclist won't stop stupid driving. So while saying cyclists should be trained is a good idea unless drivers are forced properly policed you are wasting your time.

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notfastenough [3728 posts] 4 years ago
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ribena wrote:

The accident has occured on horrendous 3-lane gyratory system known as an accident black spot, by a truck with huge blind spots that could easily be removed, and yet people are saying the cyclist should have had more training despite no further details being available??

Cycling needs to be made as easy as walking. Its not intrinsically dangerous, we've made it dangerous.

Scubda diving and Snowboarding are similar to Mountain Biking, the risk is from your own actions.

This isn't the case with people cycling to work. Most deaths are not the cyclists fault.
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3758677.ece

Agreed. As is often the case with threads attached to specific articles, people comment based on their understanding - that is to say, they comment on how their own observations relate to the article. I don't know if training would have helped this poor soul, and I'm certainly not out to blame the victim - my heart goes out to her boyfriend and mother. However, in my short time of being able to commute on my bike, I've watched two adult males nearly get wiped out when the danger was obvious, and within their power to avoid. I'm not willing to wait for others to make things safe for me.

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congokid [325 posts] 4 years ago
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Gizmo_ wrote:

someone made a fatal mistake.

...force cyclists to undergo some sort of training, and have a card that must be carried proving they've done it (probably just for built-up areas like inside the M25).

You seem to be implying, without any evidence in the report that I can see, that it was the cyclist who made the mistake in this case. Or do you have any information not available to the rest of us?

Nice bit of victim blaming there.

Somehow, without either apparent special training or an id card, cycling in the Netherlands, including cities, is immensely popular and probably safer than in London. Do you think cyclist id cards and training are essential there as well?

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zanf [966 posts] 4 years ago
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Gizmo_ wrote:

Perhaps, and I hate to say it, the only way to stop these things happening is to force cyclists to undergo some sort of training, and have a card that must be carried proving they've done it

I was right with you up until this point then you went into the same territory that is occupied by people who call for compulsory helmets, hiviz, bicycle licensing and shitty 'nice way codes'. It's nothing more than victim blaming really, isn't it?

Cycle training should be ingrained from an early age just as swimming lessons are. It should also feature heavily within driver training.

As soon as you start talking about mandatory licensing for cycling, you are making a serious and fundamental mistake that encroaches on ancient rights of way. License cycling then you are one step away from licensing pedestrians and then you may as well go full steam ahead and mandate that public space requires all people to be licensed to enter it.

Colin Peyresourde wrote:

And before people go ballistic

Get the fuck over yourself, seriously.

Colin Peyresourde wrote:

you do the same with scuba diving, and skiing/snowboarding. No one unleashes you into these dangers without checking that you know how to keep yourself safe.....

False equivalence.

Utility cycling is NOT a sport. It is a mode of transport.

Colin Peyresourde wrote:

cycling and these other sports are all in the same travel insurance catagory incidentally, and that shouldn't be a surprise!

Again, false equivalence. You are not legally required to purchase insurance when travelling.

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bikewithnoname [94 posts] 4 years ago
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I ride though the Aldgate gyratory every day and it is a dangerous set of junctions, especially in the rush hour evenings where the volume of cars, trucks buses and bikes often results in near gridlock.

We don’t know the circumstances of the crash or whether anyone was to blame, but even a casual road user can see that the junction is not cycle friendly

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vbvb [621 posts] 4 years ago
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congokid wrote:

Nice bit of victim blaming there.

Somehow, without either apparent special training or an id card, cycling in the Netherlands, including cities, is immensely popular and probably safer than in London. Do you think cyclist id cards and training are essential there as well?

Thanks, congokid, for your sanity. Good God, you have to wonder at the other comments. On a cycling webpage!

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hennahairgel [63 posts] 4 years ago
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Colin Peyresourde wrote:

[Y]ou do the same with [...] skiing/snowboarding. No one unleashes you into these dangers without checking that you know how to keep yourself safe.....

Rubbish. Have you ever been on the ski slopes on a weekend in the Alps? Anyone goes down the slope in whatever form/style/kit they feel like. No one checks your ability, your propensity to cause damage, or your insurance.

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Noelieboy [88 posts] 4 years ago
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Poor guy I feel for him so much!

"Tony added that drivers of large vehicles should have to take cycle awareness courses."

I 100% concur with him on this except I think every new driver; car, van, buses & lorries should all have to do the old cycle proficiency course 1st before moving onto driving.

It would make it a lot easier for people on both sides to understand what the other goes through.

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IanW1968 [345 posts] 4 years ago
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What a waste,
I really hope my daughter (and everyone else's ) when shes older can get about however she chooses without fear of this sort incident.

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mr-andrew [300 posts] 4 years ago
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The Aldgate gyratory is quite frankly terrifying. I've been cycling for about 35 years and don't think my proficiency has anything to do with some of the close calls I've had there.

There are just too many poorly planned roads, junctions and intersections which - coupled with drivers that are often indifferent or actively aggressive to vulnerable road users - make for a vastly increased chance of serious accident.

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A V Lowe [619 posts] 4 years ago
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Four of the trucks were very specifically 'tipper' lorries and 99% certainty that they would be 4 axle 32 T rigid vehicles. That most of the other 4 trucks would also be operating on construction work is a fair certainty (concrete jigger/skip truck?). Very few companies send their large, and very expensive to operate trucks in to central London to rack up drivers' hours an wages crawling along on traffic. The only trucks which you'll find running about all day are the ones that have to be running around, and those are the trucks needed to take muck away from the many and large construction projects, and bring in the concrete, steel &c for the new buildings.

I checked out one big Central London site about 2 years ago, and the deep basement and foundations hole had a huge daily excavation rate but even then it took around 2 months to dig the hole, shifting around 3000 Tons per day out of the pit. Now there was nowhere simply to stack up at least 200,000T of excavated material on the adjacent land - it just didn't exist - so 3000T per day (150 x 32T trucks with a 20T payload) hit the streets, from just ONE of the sites working in Central London. Each trip to dump that spoil material has to go out from London, in this case around 32 miles to Pitsea and back - so 150 trip per day of 64 miles apiece is 9,600 truck-miles per day of 'risk exposure' where the hazard of having a large truck moving around in the mixed traffic on city streets - pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers etc exists. In context it is worth noting the the vehicles with the highest crash rate per vehicle per year are actually buses, simply because a typical city bus can be on the road for up to 18 hours per day, and they operate in places where pedestrians are actually invited to get up close to the bus (and get on/off it).

So we have just one site putting nearly 10,000 truck-miles per day out on the street. It is also nearly 200,000 Ton-miles of traffic being moved with resulting wear & tear on the roads, and a huge pollution footprint of noise and emissions - just be thankful that Crossrail digging out millions of tons is putting most of that material on to the trains that can run on the tracks already being set up to run through their tunnels.

In all this hand wringing and bewailing I think we are seriously filing to step back - I challenge the Road cc team to get the bigger picture either by their own research or from TfL and the Police. Let's first of all identify the operator of the trucks - sure we know about the drivers, especially those who should have never been driving that truck when it killed the cyclist, but who handed the control of the killing machine to the driver? Some sobering thoughts here - the truck I saw being moved after one cyclist fatality was involved in another fatal crash plus a crash that put the victim in a wheelchair - that rather suggests a major flaw in the way that operator selected and managed their drivers. So lets get the crash reports to identify the truck operator, and perhaps the bigger client for whom they operate a truck in the big client livery.

But let's make Tony, Simon & co do a bit of work here, and also identify the sites which the trucks were working for. This can actually be very interesting - one London campaigner had a very close call with a truck operated by a company which he knew monitored their operations with due diligence on safety and driving standards - so much so that all the trucks had a tracking record of the routes taken in addition to the statutory tachograph record. It turned out that the close call happened on a road which that truck should not have been using as a route to & from the site it was working at. The driver was 'disciplined'.

Speaking of campaigning, I'd also highlight the LCC Safer truck by design initiative. In London now you are unlikely to see any refuse trucks with the old 'king of the road' high level driving cabs. Instead they almost all have 'walk-in' and when one of these is alongside you on a bike, you can look straight in and see the driver - in full - behind the wheel. Part of the drive to use the walk in cab comes from a safety issue - but not your safety as a cyclist. Too many refuse collectors are injured slipping from the steps as they climb up in to a high cab, so the extra cost of a walk-in cab is seen as appropriate to delivering the employer's duty of care, and reducing the claims bill. Of course a happy coincidence is that the driver has superb direct vision of what and who is close to the truck, and no longer reliant on secondary vision through mirrors which cn never give the same view as you get from a direct look, and make it very hard for those outside to be certain that the person inside has seen them.

We could have the same regime to require ALL trucks operating in London to have 'eye level' driving cabs, and like all London Buses a CCTV record of the past 7 days of driving. TfL already imposes a standard for engine emissions, and since 1999 all new buses have had to be the low floor, walk-on type, with this action aiming to deliver an entirely low floor bus fleet UK-wide. In the early years a low floor bus was an expensive special vehicle, but by 1999 the number being ordered had already evened out the price penalty. We could do the same with trucks if the will was there.

It is very unlikely that we can ban truck movements on city streets but we can manage out the hazards through better design of cabs, and reducing the number and duration of exposure for large truck movements. This is perhaps far more important in addressing the causes of the problem than fiddling to manage the effect with ever more mirrors, buzzers, and often patronising signs along with a lifeguards detail which has a struggle to get a workable design that survives in use.

It could be a move to get this mass movement of material on rail or river and any road hauling is cut from 60+ mile round trips, to 2-3 miles on a closely defined route,to load a barge or a train with 50-100 truck-loads. Or perhaps a concrete batching plant on the river supplied by river and filling trucks on the riverside, or even directly pumping concrete to riverside sites. All such measures however require a strategic provision of rail and river loading points, which the transient nature of most construction work cannot justify. The delivery of loading points may require TfL to maintain them in a warm state ready for use, as the use may not be continuous. To build one costs a vast amount to keep it ready for use, substantially less.

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MarcMyWords [69 posts] 4 years ago
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This poor guy, really feel for him. I know this makes me a massive hypocrite because I cycle through central London every day to work and back but if my girlfriend put her leg over a bike, I'd be worrying like mad until I knew she was safely in the office.

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Yorkshie Whippet [624 posts] 4 years ago
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To all those calling for cycle training/proficiency licenses etc.

How will a piece of paper in my back pocket stop a car from pulling into the cycle lane in front of me? How will it stop the impatient driver racing me to the red light? How would it have stopped the arsehole HGV driver who nearly trapped me between his back wheels and the curb t'other month? Would it actually/physically stop those cyclist who ignore red lights or cycle on footpaths.

Time to wake up, having a drivers license does not stop people from driving dangerously or having a lot of close calls in the pursuit of getting somewhere quickly. Having a gun license does not stop you from shooting people? No more than being an MP allows you to fiddle expenses or being a qualified captain stops you from sinking your ship.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1892 posts] 4 years ago
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Colin Peyresourde wrote:

Nope. It's like scuba diving or any other 'slightly dangerous' leisure activity. There is a risk with it, and the best way of controlling that is by knowing how to cycle safely, many people don't on evidence of the streets of London.

No it isn't. That's the most bizarre (indeed, frankly bonkers!) analogy I've ever heard. How many people rely on 'scuba diving' as their primary means of transport? Cycling is not a 'leisure activity' its the exercise of a basic, fundamental, human right - the right to freedom of movement.

Driving is not compulsory, indeed its a slightly peculiar and freakish way to get around, by the standards of most of human history.

This sort of talk makes me quite irate. What next - licenses and training required for 'going outside' or 'going for a walk'?