After nine months without a cyclist being killed by a vehicle on London’s roads, campaign group Stop Killing Cyclists has suggested the effects of the Safer Lorries scheme are being seen. However, with the group itself having been formed following the deaths of six cyclists within the space of two weeks in November 2013, it is clear that such incidents are never evenly spaced.
The last cyclist killed by a vehicle on the roads of the capital was Ying Tao at Bank last June and the total number killed by vehicles in 2015 was eight – the joint lowest number in twenty years.
Stop Killing Cyclists’ co-founder, Donnachadh McCarthy, has pointed to the impact of the Safer Lorries scheme. Introduced in September, it requires all HGVs operating within the capital to be fitted with sideguards and improved mirrors amongst other measures.
"When we demanded an end to blindly-driven trucks on London's streets, we were told our demand would bring London's economy to a standstill.
“We are grateful that Andrew Gilligan and TfL reversed that view and congratulate them for finding a positive way to require modern safety mirrors and bars on all trucks entering London.
“This action has contributed to the record nine-month pause in tragic cyclist killings and we pray that there will not be any more. However, it is now really crucial that this successful London scheme is expanded across the UK by Robert Goodwill, the Minister for Cycling.
“TfL should now urgently require all TfL buses to install latest safety mirrors that protect both pedestrians and cyclists. It is not acceptable that bus drivers cannot see some adjacent pedestrians or cyclists."
The signs seem positive, but the intermittent nature of cyclist fatalities makes it hard to draw firm conclusions. Statistics detailing non-fatal injuries to cyclists perhaps help give a clearer picture, but at present TfL only has provisional figures up until September 30, 2015.
Stop Killing Cyclists points out that a large proportion of HGV operators had upgraded their vehicles by June ahead of the Safer Lorries scheme being implemented. Figures for July 1 to September 30 reveal that 98 pedal cyclists were killed or seriously injured in that period, a 20 per cent drop on the same three-month period in 2014. The number considered ‘slightly injured’ also fell by 15 per cent.
This is, however, a very short period from which to draw conclusions.
Stop Killing Cyclists are also now demanding that TfL take urgent action to tackle transport pollution and inactivity diseases and will be staging a transport pollution ‘die-in’ protest outside the Department for Transport on Horseferry Road on April 27 from 5pm to 6.30pm.
People are asked to bring children's dolls and teddy bears to represent the children whose lungs are being stunted by London's traffic pollution and gas-masks or pollution masks.