Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Transport for London denies its roads are killing people. 12th October Blackfriars Bridge. Be there!

Brand new London cycle route designed by TfL and
Westminster. Can you spot the problem?
Earlier this week a young woman was killed cycling near Kings Cross station. The Evening Standard's original report quoted Transport for London stating that cycling casualties in London were in decline. That original article has been removed and replaced with something that has been massively edited down. One reason may be that cycling casualties are doing anything but going down. 10 people were killed cycling on London's roads last year. So far this year, 13 people have been killed cycling in London.

What's more, although cyclist fatalities declined between 2009 - 10, "when those figures are combined with the number seriously injured, there was an eight percent rise in cycling casualties, despite a decline among other road users."

I would suggest the Transport for London spokesman originally quoted in the Evening Standard was being less than honest with Londoners about its record in keeping us safe while cycling on London's roads.

And that's not a huge surprise, really. As the blogger at Cycling Intelligence points out there four cyclists have been killed by HGVs within metres of this same spot in the last few years:

In 2006, Wendy Gay was crushed by a lorry as she rode in a cycle lane on Euston Road close to the British Library.Also in 2006, Emma Foa died after she was run over by a lorry on Goodsway. In 2007, Madeleine Rosie Wright died at the junction of Pentonville Road and Penton Rise after she was hit by a lorry. This week, Joo Lee was killed at the junction of Pentonville Road and York Way.

And guess what Transport for London has to say about the way it designs junctions like Pentonville Road? Transport for London has the audacity to claim that junctions on its network are safe for cycling. When it described the new junction it has designed at Blackfriars to a committee of London Assembly Members, TfL had the chutzpah to claim "This junction is not atypical of other central London junctions which work successfully for cyclists." In other words, it is saying this junction is just like many other central junctions and that these work successfully for cyclists.

My view is that the statement by Transport for London is utterly irresponsible and frankly immoral.

Compare this Dutch junction with almost anywhere in London. Hmm, which one feels safer?

Cycling is an after-thought squeezed into TfL's roads so long as it doesn't get in the way of motor vehicles. The Mayor is encouraging more and more of us to cycle. But he's failing to fund that initiative properly and he's failing to tell Transport for London to give cycling a proper place on London's roads. He can't have it both ways. Either he wants people to take up cycling and he funds it properly and forces TfL to design a proper place for people to cycle. Or he will see that death toll keep rising.

If you have five minutes to spare, I urge you to compare Transport for London's cycling facilities with those of the Netherlands. Just take a look at these facilities on this page and think how safe and easy that would make your own cycle journey. It might even encourage other people who don't currently cycle to ditch their cars. But we're having none of it in London. Because the Mayor doesn't want to upset the 'motorist'. I'm a motorist. Most people who cycle are motorists. Plenty of motorists are beginning to think the status quo needs to start changing.

I'm going to Blackfriars next Wednesday evening to make my point. It's not about Blackfriars. It's about all the roads in London and to encourage the Mayor to start dealing with cycling properly. Wednesday 12th October, 6-7pm Blackfriars Bridge. You should be there.