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Britain’s worst 'blackspots' for cycling casualties revealed

London roundabout at north end of Lambeth Bridge and The Plain, remodelled with Cycle City Ambition cash, top Sunday Times list

A London roundabout where a cyclist was killed in 2015 and which is undergoing a widely-criticised redesign has been named as the scene of more cycling casualties than anywhere else in Great Britain, according to research published in The Sunday Times.

Moira Gemmill, aged 55, was crushed to death by a tipper lorry driven by James Kwatia, 41, in April 2015 at a roundabout on Millbank at the north end of Lambeth Bridge.

Kwatia will stand trial next month on charges of causing her death by careless driving.

According to research carried out by data analysts Mapmechanics, the junction was the scene of 53 incidents that resulted in a cyclist being killed or injured between 2009 and 2015.

Transport for London (TfL) was heavily criticised in December after it unveiled plans for a temporary redesign of the road layout around the roundabout ahead of launching a consultation over permanent changes.

> TfL slammed for Lambeth Bridge roundabout plans that would "make it worse"

Former London Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan told that a better design than the temporary one had been drawn up in 2013. Disagreements between Westminster City Council and TfL meant it was never implemented.

“They are making it worse,” Gilligan said in December. “It will be far better to do nothing than to do this. They are narrowing the road and will force cyclists into the path of traffic.”

The next largest number of cycling casualties between 2009 and 2015, according to Department for Transport (DfT) figures analysed by data mapping firm Mapmechanics, was recorded at The Plain roundabout in Oxford, with 45 incidents reported.

Located at the junction of Cowley Road, Iffley Road and St Clement's Street, the junction was subject to a £1.35 million overhaul thanks to the government’s Cycle City Ambition scheme but after it was completed in 2015 local cycling campaigners said the changes had not gone far enough to improve safety and thereby encourage more people to cycle and that it was “questionable whether it was worth it.”

> Oxford cycling campaigners say cycling 'improvements' at key junction aren't working

Next on the list was the junction of Trumpington Road and Lensfield Road in Cambridge, with 34 incidents recorded.

That was followed by two roads in London that, like the roundabout at the northern end of Lambeth Bridge, lie on the route of a Cycle Superhighway, and one which unlike some more recent infrastructure in the capital is not separated from motor traffic.

Those are Kennington Park Road and Upper Tooting Road, both of which lie on Cycle Superhighway 7, with 29 casualties logged at each location during the period.

It is unsurprising that busy commuter routes in London as well as in Cambridge and Oxford, the cities with the highest proportion of daily cyclists in the UK, should feature on the list.

And looking at absolute numbers, rather than putting them into the context of how many people ride on those roads each day, as well as including slight injuries as well as serious ones and fatalities means it's impossible to say that one junction is any more 'dangerous' for cyclists than another.

But it will concern cycling campaigners that the top two locations are ones that have attracted criticism over changes supposedly designed to improve safety.

Roger Geffen, policy director at the charity Cycling UK, acknowledged that local authorities faced funding and other pressures but called on them not to lose sight of the need to design infrastructure that protected cyclists.

He told “Our national Space for Cycling campaign is calling on local authorities to start delivering top priority, Dutch standard schemes at key locations, particularly at junctions.

“Not only will this help maximise cycle use in these areas, but it will also act as a statement of intent about the design standards they intend to apply across their areas of responsibility.

“However, knowing the funding and political constraints local authorities face, we accept that step-by-step improvements will sometimes be inevitable. However, the design and funding for such schemes should not preclude further improvements in the not too distant future. Perfect should not be the enemy of the good, but local authorities must not content themselves that ‘good’ is enough when lives are still at risk.

 He added: “We’d urge local authorities to engage with their local campaign groups throughout the consultation process, as they will be able to identify the places where achieving Dutch standards is most critical for enabling a lot more people to cycle more safely.”

British Cycling policy adviser Chris Boardman told The Sunday Times that the figures “must be balanced against the huge rise in popularity” of cycling.

The former world and Olympic champion turned cycling campaigner added: “The cycling infrastructure in the UK is way behind that of our European neighbours and without it, we will not get more people doing normal everyday things like the school run and the shopping unless they feel safe.”

The Sunday Times article also revealed the rural roads with the most cycling casualties between 2009 and 2015.

Two of those – Chalkpit Road near Oxted and Box Hill’s Zig Zag Road, with eight and seven casualties, respectively – lie in the Surrey Hills making them popular with riders in the south east.

The latter also features on the route of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and is among the most popular Strava segments in the UK.

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.

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congokid | 7 years ago
I love my bike replied to congokid | 7 years ago

congokid wrote:

No mention of Elephant & Castle - has it improved noticeably? In 2011 David Hembrow identified it as the most dangerous junction in London with 89 cyclist injuries in two years.

Meanwhile, the most dangerous Dutch roundabout had 14 injuries over three years.


It's been improved as part of the junction remodelling, but in my experience it's still worth avoiding if possible, as the cycle routes aren't always direct & swap sides of the roads (requiring more traffic lights & waiting).

Edgeley | 7 years ago
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The Plain figures date from before the changes.  The junction is still pretty bad, and intimidating to less confident would-be cyclists, but not as dangerous.


And the whole methodology seems statistically flawed, given that all it does is measure the number of reported incidents, with no adjustment for the number of people using the facility on bikes or other vehicles, nor the severity of the incidents.


nniff | 7 years ago

With regard to the last two - Box Hill and Chalkpit Lane, they are distinctly different.  Box Hill is always busy and I suspect that the numbers using it skew the figures.  Chalkpit Lane, on the other hand, is a seriously steep descent to a descending left hand hairpin.  Overcook that (very easily done) and it's going to end badly, even without a car coming the other way. 

No Chalkpit Road (sic) in Oxted that I know of.

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