Like this site? Help us to make it better.

TfL rebuffs cyclist over safety fears about red light jumping drivers at Bow Roundabout

Luke Redpath raises concerns at notorious blackspot - but told nothing can be done with no collisions recorded

Transport for London (TfL) has been urged by a cyclist to take action against red light jumping motorists at the notorious Bow Roundabout before someone is injured or killed – but he has been told that no action can be taken because there is no history there of collisions being caused by drivers ignoring traffic signals within the past three years.

Luke Redpath, aged 31, lives in Dagenham and often cycles into London to visit clients. He told that his usual route takes him to and from Liverpool Street, riding partly on Barclays Cycle Superhighway CS2. He told us: “I try to avoid Bow Roundabout on the way home but if I’m cycling into London it’s hard to avoid it.”

Following the deaths of Brian Dorling and Svitlana Tereschenko at Bow in autumn 2011, TfL installed early-start cyclist specific traffic lights at the junction to enable people on bikes to get ahead of traffic.

However, Mr Redpath says that motorists jumping red lights are putting cyclist’s lives at risk. He told us: “On several occasions I’ve witnessed dangerous red light jumping [RLJ] at Bow Roundabout and it appears to be both common and blatant. TfL seem unwilling to do anything about this issue until somebody gets hurt.

Safety changes suggested to TfL

“I first contacted TfL about this several weeks ago after coming close to being hit by two RLJers on a commute to work – if I had set off quickly when my light went green I would have been hit by a van who went through red after several seconds.”

He continued: “I asked TfL what they could do about this and suggested the possibility of installing red light cameras and/or changing the phasing of the lights – currently the cyclist light turns green as soon as the motor traffic light turns red.

“I also suggested improved signage telling motorists on the roundabout to look out for cyclists – I suspect that traffic speeding up to enter the A12 sees the motor traffic held back at a red light and decides to take a chance, having not seen any cyclists waiting at the new advanced stop lines.”

In his email to TfL, sent on 10 September, he wrote: “I seriously urge you to take measures to reduce red light jumping at all the lights at the roundabout but particularly those on the roundabout itself,” and suggested installing red light cameras, changing the phasing of the lights, and putting up signs warning both motorists and cyclists of the potential danger.

He added: “In an ideal world none of these things should be necessary but there are a lot of bad, dangerous drivers out there.”

The reply from a customer service advisor at TfL made it clear that while his concerns were noted, no action could be taken.

TfL outlines red light camera criteria

TfL told Mr Redpath: “There is a London wide policy to only install red light cameras as mitigation for a history of people being Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) as a result of red light trespass. Criteria are used to assess whether the installation of a camera would be justified so that the camera would help improve safety by reducing the number of red light trespass related KSIs.

“The criteria for the implementation of a red light camera is that there must have been a minimum of two injury collisions on the same arm of a junction (in a three year period) that resulted in one KSI and both of these must have been as a result of a red light trespass.

“According to Transport for London (TfL) records, none of the collisions at Bow Roundabout have been as a result of red light trespass. Therefore, as there has been no red light trespass related KSIs at this location it is doubtful that the introduction of a red light camera would be effective in addressing the collision problem and so would not be considered in this instance.”

Lorry going through red light was factor in Brian Dorling's death

It’s not clear how TfL compiles those records, but certainly in the case of Mr Dorling, who died on 24 October 2011, a lorry going through a red light was a factor according to Poplar coroner Mary Hassell at the inquest last year into his death.

She concluded that while the victim, an experienced cyclist who commuted daily across London to his work as a surveyor at the Olympic Park then under construction, had gone through a red light, so too had the driver of the lorry involved in the collision.

Martin Porter QC, who represented the Dorling family at the inquest, suggested that he had ridden through the light to get away from the lorry.

The same coroner warned cyclists not to ride through red lights after concluding following an inquest into the death in November last year of Venera Minakhmetova that she had ridden through a red light, something her family contested, saying she was always extremely careful at the junction.

At such a busy junction – and moreover, one where a number of videos showing drivers jumping red lights have been posted online, some collected in this YouTube play list by Mr Redpath, some may find it hard to believe that during the past three years there has been no recorded instance of another collision involving a motor vehicle jumping a red light to fulfil TfL’s criteria.

Equally, many might find it difficult to understand why, at a location where three cyclists have died within the past three years, TfL cannot be flexible on its policy, and why it may take another collision – with someone possibly being seriously injured or killed – for action to be taken.

TfL says take it up with the Met

TfL’s email to Mr Redpath directed him to the Metropolitan Police’s Road Safe London website, where people can notify officers of examples of poor driving, and he was also assured that “whilst there have been improvements made at Bow roundabout the process to improve the area for cyclists has not finished.

“We are currently working with the London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham, and other key stakeholders, to deliver the Vision for Bow: a place which all road users passing through find accessible, safe and connected.

“We are therefore looking at opportunities to deliver more substantial changes at Bow for pedestrian and cyclists in the longer term, in order to support the regeneration of the area.”

Mr Redpath, who says he will continue his campaign, told us: “It appears that they [TfL] are unwilling to contemplate the idea of red light cameras, essentially because nobody has been hurt as a result of red light jumping (yet).

“Given how notorious Bow Roundabout is for being a dangerous junction for cyclists and pedestrians, this seems like an unbelievable excuse for not trying to further improve safety at the junction,” he added.‏

We have raised a number of points with TfL arising from this exchange of correspondence, and will let you know their response as soon as we hear back from them.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Latest Comments