Bank Junction in the City of London, where a 26-year-old cyclist lost her life in a collision with a tipper lorry yesterday morning, will be brought to a standstill twice in the coming week as campaigners call for the capital’s streets to be made safer for people on bikes.
David Lammy, who hopes to secure the Labour Party’s nomination for next year’s Mayoral election, has called for lorries to be banned from the city at peak hours to protect cyclists.
Meanwhile rival prospective candidate for Labour, the transport expert Christian Wolmar, has said he will attend tomorrow’s protest which is being staged by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC).
A bike officer from City of London Police has described the junction as “probably the most dangerous in London” for cyclists, but Mayor Boris Johnson is resisting calls for lorries to be removed from the streets at rush hour.
26-year-old Ying Tao, a recently married Cambridge graduate who also studied for a master’s degree at Oxford and was riding to her work as a management consultant at PwC, was the eighth cyclist to be killed in London so far this year.
Six of the cyclists killed so far this year in London were women, and lorries have been involved in seven out of the eight fatal incidents.
The LCC protest tomorrow morning will see cyclists meet at two locations – the south side of Finsbury Circus, and the north end of London Bridge – at 8am, the groups setting of a quarter of an hour later and converging on Bank Junction at 8.30am where they will remain for 15 minutes.
The campaign group said: “More must be done to create high quality space for cycling across London, to enable people of all ages and abilities to ride safely in our city. This includes making lorries safer.”
Stop Killing Cyclists will be holding a vigil and die-in at the same junction next Monday evening, and like the LCC protest it will commemorate not only Mrs Tao, but also Clifton James, aged 60, who died in Harrow at around 1am on Sunday morning after he was struck by a car. The motorist involved was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
In a statement, the group described Bank as “a horrendous junction – 7 major and 2 minor roads merge there, meaning no matter how good the driving or cycling it’s a nightmare – with absolutely no sensible provision for cyclists and even pedestrians poorly looked after.
“At least three of these roads needs to be closed to through traffic and made over for the huge numbers of pedestrians and cyclists using this junction at rush hour every day. A staggering 33% of the rush hour traffic is already cyclists at this junction.”
According to the London Evening Standard, six City of London bike officers were stationed at Bank Junction this morning to provide “public reassurance.”
One told the newspaper: “This is clearly a very dangerous junction probably the worst in London in my opinion.
“People are obviously very upset by what happened and we are here to monitor the junction and talk to whoever wants to talk to us.”
With transport and policing the two chief areas of responsibility for London’s mayor and people increasingly taking to two wheels to travel through the city, with an election due in less than a year’s time the issue of cycle safety is once again set to figure strongly in the campaign.
Tottenham MP Lammy, who recently said that he is too scared to ride a bike in London at times when traffic is heaviest, told the Standard: “My view is that only by banning HGVs from London during rush hour will we give cyclists the protection they need.
“We’ve got to take bold decisions. Why can’t deliveries be made well into the night? There are some working practices London has got to change. Too often everything seems to stop at about 4.30pm.”
Wolmar, who is also looking to be Labour’s candidate for mayor in the election next May, explained in a post on his website why he will be taking part in tomorrow’s protest.
He said: “Enough is enough. It is time to get angry. The death of a young woman hit by a tipper truck at Bank yesterday highlights the lack of concerted action from both Transport for London and the City Corporation on bike safety.
“The huge increase in cycling in central London is no longer a new phenomenon as there has been rapid growth for years,” he continued.
“While there are lots of plans for improvement, there is no sense of urgency about them. Bank, for example, is due for improvement some time in 2020.”
According to Wolmar, places such as New York City show that at places where danger is apparent, “instead of waiting for the perfect scheme that will cost millions, remedial action can take place quickly with the use of plastic and paint,” and that “permanent changes can then be introduced at a later stage.”
But he said that barriers exist to bar lorries from entering London at peak times, explaining: “Calling for a total ban is cheap politics but in reality difficult to bring about, as there is a night time ban in London that prevents trucks coming earlier.
“Therefore nothing would be able to enter the central area until after 9.30, something that the freight lobby would protest loudly about.
“Instead we need a more intelligent approach – a systematic assessment of what lorries need to come in, and the introduction of a licensing system in order to ensure that only those with a real need can enter the central area at rush hour.
“In tandem, we need to rush through the creation of a Dutch style segregated network of cycle lanes on TfL’s strategic road network. The main routes used by trucks could be prioritised to ensure they were made safe first.”
Last week, we reported how the developers of 22 Bishopsgate, which if it secures planning permission is scheduled for completion in 2019, aim to introduce a planned delivery schedule both during and after the construction phase that would see lorries arrive at the site outside peak hours, and deliveries consolidated outside central London.
Wolmar said: “Much, too, can be done about deliveries reducing the number through consolidation centres. All this, though, needs urgency and strong direction, something that has been lacking from Mayor Johnson.”
Yesterday, in the wake of the crash that claimed Mrs Tao’s life, the mayor reiterated his opposition to removing HGVs from London’s streets at peak times.
He said: “We've thought about this a lot over the years. The difficulty with a rush hour ban is you would basically push the lorry activity to the surrounding hours and I'm afraid that is certainly when the fatalities would then occur. We think you would simply disperse the incidents.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.