The London intersection where French student Philippine de Gerin-Ricard lost her life on Friday July 5 will be redeveloped to make it safer for cyclists, says the Mayor’s cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan.
Meanwhile, London police are investigating whether the design of the road itself outside Aldgate East tube station contributed to the collision in which Ms de Gerin-Ricard, 20, was hit by a lorry.
The area has long been considered hazardous to people on bikes as it’s a complex intersection of multiple roads with no provision for riders aside from some Cycle Superhighway 2 blue paint and advance stop boxes that are usually occupied by lorries, cars and swarms of motorcyclists.
According to the Evening Standard, police have established that the driver of the lorry that killed Ms de Gerin-Ricard was driving straight and not turning at the time.
They are examining a narrowing of the carriageway and some temporary scaffolding at the scene which may have forced her into the path of the lorry.
The police have also said that early reports that Ms de Gerin-Ricard was carrying bags of shopping were incorrect. The French student had come to the UK to improve her English and worked part time at Marks and SPencers. SHe was the first person to be killed in London while riding one of the Barclays Cycle Hire ‘Boris Bikes’.
The road layout at Aldgate and Aldgate East Tube stations is notoriously difficult for people to traverse on bikes. The one-way system around Aldgate and St Botolph’s church forms a de facto gyratory with sections that force a rider to contend with fast-moving traffic.
The junction of Mansell Street and the A11 is often clogged by traffic turning right on to the A11 and both bike riders and drivers often have to change lanes in the stretch between there and the junction with the A13. To travel the few hundred metres between Leadenhall Street and Whitechapel Road involves five sets of traffic lights, none with adequate provision for people on bikes.
Andrew Gilligan says he was at the spot where Philippine de Gerin-Ricard was killed just three days before the crash.
“I was on the pavement that Tuesday because we have decided the roads in this area must change. I could tell you we made the decision three days before Philippine’s death but that would be wrong. We decided it four months ago.
“In his vision for cycling in London, published in March, the Mayor specifically named Aldgate — in which we include this stretch of road — as one of ‘London’s worst junctions’, which needed ‘early and major improvements’ to become ‘safer and less threatening for cyclists’.
“We are tackling it in two parts. A few yards to the west of where this death happened, the City of London, with funding from TfL, will sweep away the frightening gyratory that encircles Aldgate Tube station. Aldgate High Street and St Botolph Street will both become two-way. Cyclists will no longer have to filter into the middle of fast-moving traffic. There will be a new public square by the church, with a north-south cycle route through it, on what is now three lanes of tarmac.
“The plans, though a significant improvement on now, are still a work in progress. As we’ve told City of London, in our opinion the scheme still does not do enough for east-west cyclists on Aldgate High Street; but the City of London has a strong, award-winning track record on cycling and I believe we will work together to reach a decent conclusion.
“On the eastern part, Whitechapel High Street and Cycle Superhighway 2, TfL has already conducted an outline study which concludes that it is capable of a ‘substantial upgrade’ and at the end of April I asked it to work this in more detail.”
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.