Wednesday, 10 July 2013

One negligent Cycle Super Highway, three deaths. British Cycling & The Evening Standard call on Londoners to support London Cycling Campaign protest ride. Friday 6pm, Tower Hill. You need to be there

Rush hour at Elephant & Castle. Outside rush hour the bus lanes on this Cycle Super Highway convert to lanes for dodgy drivers to undertake law-abiding drivers at fast speeds. Funnily enough, no one cycles here when the bus lane hours aren't in operation 
Even the police think Cycle Super Highway 2 is too dangerous. Commenting on the third death of someone cycling on this route last week, police officers were telling the Evening Standard "it is so dangerous around here, people should be aware"

If something is 'so dangerous', people have three choices. Their immediate choice might be to avoid the danger. It's so dangerous, don't cycle here. But there's a Cycle Super Highway running right through here. You are being encouraged to use a bike here, you are supposed to be here. An alternative choice might be to wear a helmet, have lots of training on how to cycle in traffic, wear hi-viz jackets, attach hundreds of lights to your bike to make you even more visible. But, frankly, if a lorry driver overtakes you and then swerves left across you without looking in his mirrors, unless you have Bat Man-like instincts, you're stuffed, helmet or no helmet.

But you have a third option, though. And that is to call for change. You can demand that politicians and their officers change the danger; remove the danger.

As ibikelondon blog points out very eloquently, our politicians are taking an age to understand that the status quo is no longer good enough and that they need to act to change our streets. Waffle is no longer good enough. The Dutch road safety institute said very clearly in 2011, that the only way to remove the danger from roads like Cycle Super Highway 2 is to enforce a "structural separation of trucks and cyclists". We won't remove danger just by talking about it or, as the Mayor seems to think, by having more people on two wheels merrily pedalling around the lorries and buses. This is why I think the London Cycling Campaign is absolutely right to call for "clear space for cycling on our streets". What that means is safe space for cycling on our main roads, the places people want and need to go, not just on our city's backstreets. That view is backed by British Cycling which called on its members to support the London Cycling Campaign.

As the RAC Foundation highlighted today, one in six London drivers now rides a bike every week. Those of us who use a bicycle are not a fringe minority. That point is reinforced by the fact that London's main newspaper, The Evening Standard is also making clear it supports the protest ride: "In the wake of two cycling fatalities in recent weeks, one in Aldgate, the other in Lewisham, the protest ride will remind the Mayor and local councils that Londoners cycling on busy roads need dedicated space to protect them from fast-moving and heavy motor traffic."
The generous bike lane on Waterloo Bridge where Westminster Council encourages people to park their cars for free. This is late rush hour on a Friday evening (42% of rush hour traffic here is people on bikes) The bike lane, by the way, is underneath the parked cars. 

It is not a cycling campaign group but London's own newspaper saying this: "Cycle Superhighway 2 follows the A11 trunk road, a busy multi-lane road but despite being one of the Mayor's flagship commuter cycle routes, the section of Superhighway 2 from Aldgate to Bow roundabout has no dedicated space for cycling. Instead, cyclists are expected to jockey for position among lorries, cars, motorbikes, buses and taxis, with only blue paint and a few bike symbols to protect them."

Something has definitely changed. Two years ago when people first took to their pedals to protest at the woefully inadequate plans for Blackfriars Bridge (two years on, they're unchanged by the way), we were regarded by the media and London's politicians as something of a novelty . Now, calls for safe space for cycling are starting to go mainstream. But they're only going to stay mainstream if you join in and show you want to push for a solution.

We need you to vote with your pedals:

Meet 6pm for 6.15pm start at Tower Hill (where it meets Minories) http://goo.gl/maps/8Czme

The protest ride will last approximately 20-30 minutes, including a brief stop at the junction of A11 Whitechapel Road and A1202 Commercial Street to pay respects at the place where last week's victim died

The ride will be marshalled by LCC staff and volunteers, and will finish at Altab Ali Park around 6.30pm

Cycle safe.

BBC News on London's latest cycling fatality

14 comments:

  1. While they sort out the mess that CS2 is (one of the worst cycling experiences I had was to cycle along Mile End Road, even on a late Sunday evening cycling back from Hard Rock Calling. It's not only dangerous, but absolutely useless; it's just free parking space for cars and vans and taxis!

    Do you think it's viable to encourage people to use Cable Street instead of those horrible main roads? At least in the meantime, while the CS2 mess is sorted out. It might take people longer, but they won't be risking their lives.

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  2. Do the designs for CS2 and the subsequent, wholly unavoidable, deaths on the route present the beginnings of a case for corporate manslaughter against TfL and others responsible?

    Maybe the threat of punitive action against people who design these systems will be the rocket up the backside that those in charge need?

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    Replies
    1. THere was talk about manslaughter charges against TfL for actions surrounding the redesign of Kings Cross gyratory (see: http://kingscrossenvironment.com/2011/10/14/kings-cross-cyclist-deaths-and-injuries-tfl-corporate-manslaughter/ )

      There have been plenty of roads & junctions where people have died unnecessarily because of TfL's incompetence/negligence/wilful ignorance yet they continue to get away with it while the political head (the mayor) just spouts platitudes and 'cycle friendly language' whilst doing fuck all about it.

      While I support this protest ride, it will achieve absolutely nothing, just as all the previous rides achieved nothing, for the simple reason is that they are one off events designed to inflict the minimum amount of disruption.

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  3. The way to get change is to remember all the BS boris is talking now i.e. 'visions' that wont get built for many years, and store it in your mind. Then, when the elections come around, ignore everything you read in the standard/the mail, and remember how they fobbed you off for years. Vote against this party on the memory of this, against a party who's real interest is protecting the motor-industry and in cutting/doing the bare minimum public spending and passifying the voters. Theyve had so many years to sort this out, and theyve held it back from happening because they want to keep public spending down, even if that means more people like you and me dying. Its a disgrace this party are in power. Remember this when it comes to voting day.

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  4. As someone who has ridden a bike and motorcycle through London traffic for 30 years, it won’t matter how safe you make the CS2. The average motor vehicle driver, because they suffer no personal injury from their actions, will do stupid things. Unfortunately for the more vulnerable of use that can mean serious injury or death. As is evidenced by drivers overtaking you and then immediately turning left rather than waiting 10 seconds.

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    Replies
    1. Correct.

      Ultimately what no one wants to accept is that the standard of driving is poor and getting worse. There are many reasons for this but ultimately it is due to the 'social change' and driving license "free for all" that I dare say many nice middle class "left leaning" cyclists would never hear a bad word said against.

      As an aside I always found it strange - for example - that people who always tell you how great smoking pot is - then go out and ride a bike when there are lots of drivers high on the stuff. It is naive to believe that a society without values is going to have considerate and careful driving as one of its characteristics!

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  5. I'm not sure it came to much in the end, but when a shooting victim's family in the southern US launched a lawsuit against Wal-Mart, the store where the shooter had been able to buy the gun at the check-out without any form of ID, certificate, criminal record check etc, commentators started to talk about whether this was what might finally rein in the US gun culture.

    Oh well, perhaps too entrenched. But it is painfully evident how paranoid our local authorities are about litigation against them for negligent behaviour - look at how they curtail things like school field trips and fence off playgrounds - so perhaps if the victims' families were to sue TfL for negligence in the design and execution of schemes like CS2, the Bow Ronundabout, Kings X etc, they might start to take it seriously?

    It is of course an enormous ask - families which have been torn apart by bereavement, in a number of cases not resident in the UK and unfamiliar with our weird adversarial legal system and almost complete absence of strict liability, to submit themselves to a grubby and unedifying circus in which the respondents will grandstand and use every cheap and underhand trick to escape blame, would requie almost superhuman resolve.

    Somehow however, I find myself hoping that one of them will pick up the gauntlet.

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  6. This is the LCC that asked for the lanes in the first place.

    The alternative is to ignore the dangerous cycle facilities and work out how to ride harmoniously with traffic, its not being about being a 'road warrior', its about making cycling quite dull, no adrenaline, no war stories.

    The wonderful folks in Orlando show us how (http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/smart-moves/).

    And yes London is dominated by motor traffic and that needs sorting out, but that's a separate issue.

    Blue paint isn't gaining a lane, its surrendering the rest of the road

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    Replies
    1. The LCC may have asked for lanes, but not /these/ lanes. There' s a world of difference between properly done, European-style transport infrastructure that takes all travellers into account (including those on foot) and the mess we have in the UK. And it's really low to blame all those who have died. Much of the evidence suggests that those who die on London roads are emphatically /not/ 'road warrior' types (as much as I loathe the road warriors), it's the ones who haven't been taking the lane and standing up for their position on the road.

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    2. Yeah, let's train pensioners and children to ride between lorries and buses. What could go wrong? Well, an entire generation of people could get bullied off the road. Only a very small subset of people have any desire to "ride harmoniously with traffic". They want to ride harmoniously amongst bikes and not have to worry about getting squished.

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  7. More roads should either:

    1) Become one-way.

    or

    2) Lose one or both sides of parking.

    The lost lane/parking can become a 2-directional cycle way like the excellent section of CS4 along Cable Street.

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  10. Please support our campaign to keep the segregated cycle lanes in Wandsworth Common and Tooting Bec Common: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-the-cycle-lanes-in-wandsworth-common-and-tooting-bec-common

    ReplyDelete