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Fifth London fatality in nine days

A male cyclist has died after being hit by a double-decker bus at the junction of Whitechapel Road and Commercial Road in east London. The as-yet-unnamed man is the fifth bike rider to die on London's roads in nine days in a collision that came just hours after a protest vigil for the rider killed at Bow roundabout yesterday morning.

London Ambulance Service and police were called to the scene at 11:30pm on Wednesday, November 13 after a passing paramedic raised the alarm. Two ambulance crews and an air ambulance doctor attended the man, who was treated for serious head injuries at the scene. He was taken to Royal London Trauma Centre but was pronounced dead at approximately 4am on Thursday, November 14.

Cycle Superhighway 2 passes though the junction of Commercial Road and Whitechapel Road, which is just a few yards from where French student Philippine De Gerin-Ricard was killed in July.

Scotland Yard said that the male bus driver was treated at the scene for shock. Enquiries are underway to locate the cyclist’s next of kin. There have been no arrests and enquiries continue.

A workman at the scene, who did not want to be named, told the Evening Standard: “I heard a bang and a screech of brakes, turned around and saw the cyclist on the ground.

“There were lots of people milling around at the time but it was a taxi driver who was the first one to get out and help. Then another guy came up with a first aid kit but the police and ambulances got there within minutes.”

Eyewitness Anthony Hill, a writer from Bethnal Green, said: “I was on the 25 bus home after an evening out in the West End when I noticed blue lights and an ambulance in the road.

“Police had blocked off the westbound side of Whitechapel Road at the junction where Aldgate East station is. I saw a damaged pushbike lying on a traffic island, and a black cab with one of its front  wheels half mounted on the kerb.

“There was also some debris in the road. It’s not the first cyclist incident I’ve seen the aftermath of at this junction.

“I was also passing by on the evening a foreign student was killed there a few months back. My girlfriend, who was sitting with me on the bus, and I both said ‘let’s just hope this one’s okay’. It shocks me anyone is still brave enough to cycle round here.”

The Mayor of London's cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, told the BBC: "The danger in the current atmosphere of understandable alarm and concern is that we rush into some panic measure which actually makes things worse."

He said that there were three deaths in the first six and a half months of the year in similar road conditions to now.

Mr Gilligan admitted that the death toll after nine days was "extraordinary" and said: "From the beginning, Superhighway 2 has been little more than blue paint and I've been pressing to change it."

He said plans to upgrade all the superhighway routes will go out to consultation in four months and that it would take 11 months for changes to happen.

He added that there were 69 pedestrian deaths last year but that pedestrians do not have as strong a voice in the media.

Anyone with any information or witnesses to the collision are asked to call the police non-emergency line on 101.

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.