The London Evening Standard says that a second cyclist in the capital who lost his life in 2013 died following a collision with a lorry working on the Crossrail project – which Transport for London (TfL) and Mayor Boris Johnson have hailed as introducing rigorous safety features to protect people on bikes.
Last week, the newspaper revealed that a lorry working on what is Europe’s largest current public transport infrastructure project was involved in the death last September at Aldgate of nursing assistant Maria Karsa, who was riding her bike to undertake a shift at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.
Now, it reports that a vehicle belonging to a contractor on the Crossrail scheme was also involved in the death of 62-year-old Brian Holt, killed as he was riding to his work as a porter at the nearby Mile End Hospital.
In both cases, the tipper lorries involved were taking waste away from a Crossrail construction site at Liverpool Street Station in the City of London.
No charges have been laid against the driver involved in Ms Karsa’s death, while the Standard reports that police are continuing to investigate that of Mr Holt. An inquest originally scheduled for April has been postponed indefinitely while enquiries continue.
The newspaper says that it is thought that Mr Holt was attempting to cross Mile End Road from a side road when he was struck and killed by the lorry on 5 November last year.
Daniels: Holt riding against traffic
It added that the following day, at a board meeting of TfL, its director of surface transport Leon Daniels spoke about the fatality, who said that CCTV footage suggested the cyclist was “taking a short-cut” towards a pedestrian crossing when he was hit.
He went on: “Effectively he was cycling against the flow of traffic immediately before the collision.
“Death would have been instantaneous from the injuries. Skid marks from the HGV suggest the collision would have been at speed.
“So far there is no suggestion there is anything wrong with the vehicle or the behaviour of the driver of the HGV.”
Family calls for segregated bike lanes
Mr Holt’s family, however, say that the Barclays Cycle Superhighway infrastructure put in place by TfL is responsible for his death.
His brother, John, said: “TfL came up with a stupid idea of cycle lanes which they cannot even make safe because London’s roads are not wide enough. It’s no wonder HGVs cut into the lanes.
“The fact is that cycle lanes as we have them give a false sense of security to cyclists. It could be that my brother thought he was secure in the cycling route.”
He urged that fully segregated cycle lanes be put in place to prevent lorries and buses from encroaching on them.
Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade planned
TfL has already said that it plans to upgrade Barclays Cycle Superhighway 2, which runs past the location where Mr Holt lost his life.
While the Standard said last week that two of the three sensors on the Crossrail lorry involved in the incident that resulted in Ms Karsa’s death were not working, it says that according to a spokesman for the project, the vehicle that struck Mr Holt had been checked earlier that day, with no faults found.
The Crossrail spokesman said: “This was a tragic incident that deeply affected everyone working on the project and our thoughts remain with Mr Holt’s friends and family.
“We are awaiting the outcome of a police investigation into the incident and will take any appropriate action when we know the outcome.
“Crossrail has brought about far-reaching improvements to HGV safety in London. The package of measures that we have put in place, including the requirement for additional safety equipment, has been commended by cycle safety groups.
“Improving the safety of vulnerable road users is a top priority for us, which includes making the vehicles that we use as safe as possible.
“All TfL and Crossrail contracts require drivers to undergo extensive safety training and all vehicles are fitted with safety equipment including sidebars and additional mirrors.
“Trials will begin shortly of new detection software on buses, helping drivers be more aware of pedestrians and cyclists.”
Cycling commissioner says Vauxhall is junction he hates most
Meanwhile, London’s cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, says that the junction in Vauxhall where a 52-year-old male cyclist was killed in a collision with a lorry yesterday morning is “the one I hate most.”
He told BBC London 94.9 that the junction "is genuinely dangerous, and is unavoidable for thousands and thousands of cyclists."
TfL has already announced plans to redesign the junction to improve the safety of cyclists, and Mr Gilligan added: "There is no other way, if you're coming from a large swathe of south London, you have to pass through Vauxhall, so that's why we're doing it first."
London Cycling Campaign chief executive Ashok Sinha urged TfL to bring the works forward. He said:"Until Vauxhall junction is redesigned, then cyclists will continue to risk death and serious injury when cycling through this location, where they're forced to jockey for position with fast cars and heavy goods vehicles weaving across several lanes of traffic."
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