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Black day for cycling in London

Yet another fatality in Southwark

The on-going danger posed to London's cyclists by lorries has been tragically illustrated by news of a rider's death in the capital. While and other media   initially reported that two cyclists had died under the wheels of HGVs in separate incidents within a few hours of each other and just miles apart it later transpired that one victim was a pedestrian. 

The cyclist's death took place at lunchtime when the rider, believed to be a foreign national, was in collision with a skip lorry at the junction of Tanner Street and Tooley Street in Bermondsey.

The Evening Standard reported that both the cyclist, who was male and aged 20, and the lorry were heading in the same direction, although police said that they have been unable as yet to ascertain the exact facts behind the accident. Police arrested the lorry driver and took him away to be questioned.

The cyclist, who according to witnesses suffered serious head wounds, was taken to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, where he was pronounced dead.

That accident took place just a few hundred yards from the locations where two cyclists – university professor David Vilaseca and medical student Haris Ahmed – were killed early last year.

It is the latest instance of a cyclist being killed by an HGV in Southwark, which for whatever reason seems to attract a large number of fatal accidents to bike riders, particularly in the Bermondsey area.

Two possible reasons for that might be the amount of construction works in the area for projects such as The Shard, and the presence of a massive waste incinerator sandwiched between the railway lines and Millwall FC’s New Den Stadium, with few routes in or out of the site.

Roads running under the viaduct carrying railway lines away from London Bridge station are also used as short cuts by HGVs.

The incident took place just down the road from London’s City Hall, the most powerful occupant of which, Mayor Boris Johnson, came under criticism in October 2009 after deciding to withdraw Transport for London funding from the Metropolitan Police’s Commercial Vehicle Education Unit (CVEU),. The unit inspected lorries in the capital, insisting that the voluntary Freight Operators’ Registration Scheme (FORS) provided an adequate safeguard.

While the CVEU has been reconstituted by the Met as the Commercial Vehicle Unit, operating out of Alperton in North West London, it does not have the same scale of resources or manpower as it used to do.

Critics of the FORS have pointed out that since it is a voluntary scheme, by its very nature it will fail to cover the less scrupulous operators who it is believed account for a disproportionate number of incidents involving HGVs in London.

Anyone with information regarding the accident is asked to contact police there on 020 8285 1574 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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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