Aldgate gyratory to be rebuilt; police investigate road narrowing & scaffolding

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.

The London Cycling Campaign has called for a protest ride past Aldgate East on Friday

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’.

Change planned at Aldgate

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.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.