The Independent London Newspaper
16th September 2014

Letters

Cyclist deaths: Defiant Boris Johnson defends TfL, and says "Lorry drivers to blame"

Boris Johnson and Caroline Pidgeon

Published: 17 November 2011
by TOM FOOT

BORIS Johnson claims Transport for London (TfL) has been unfairly criticised over cycle safety.

The Mayor of London told a debate at City Hall that he felt a personal weight of responsibility every time a cyclist was killed on the capital's roads.

He said cycling campaigners should direct their anger towards lorry drivers rather than TfL, which answers to him.

Mr Johnson was speaking last Wednesday as anger grew over the soaring number of cyclists killed this year in London.

The problem has been underlined by the death of several women in the south of Camden and Islington in recent years, particularly in King’s Cross.

Fashion student Deep Lee, 24, died at a junction near the “Lighthouse” building in York Way last month – a spot which had been earmarked for safety improvements.

Mr Johnson said: “I’m the Mayor who makes a big thing about cycling, and goes on and on about how wonderful our bike hire scheme is. So it really worries me when I read about cycling accidents  and grieves me sometimes to see the way that TfL is blamed.

“But sometimes I don’t think interventions, that physical street works are the answer. The answer is very often to educate HGV (heavy goods vehicle) drivers and cyclists.

“Since HGVs are so much the problem, as are tipper trucks and cement mixers, there is a case I think for asking them to install side bars running up the flank of the vehicle between the wheels.

Because if you get hit by a bus, you won’t receive these appalling injuries, you won’t be dragged underneath in this way.”

Mr Johnson was quizzed about his safety record by London Assembly members responding to a campaign to address the busy King’s Cross junction where Ms Lee, also known as Min Joo Lee, died.

Mr Johnson added: “If we can do anything to ameliorate the junction, and if that would really address the problem, then of course we will look at it.”

Green Party assembly member Jenny Jones said Mr Johnson had failed to act on recommendations made in a report in 2008 that would have made the King’s Cross junction safe. This was revealed in a New Journal investigation in the days after Ms Lee's death.

Mr Johnson replied: “Cycling is getting safer when you consider the number of people on the road. What we need to do is make it safer.”

Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, said: “The harsh fact is that 14 cyclists have already died on London’s roads this year compared to 10 last year.

“These figures speak for themselves about the need for urgent action.

“A complete review of London’s most dangerous junctions is desperately needed.”

Mr Johnson introduced the “Boris Bikes” hire scheme across London last year. Critics say it encourages pedestrians to jump on to bikes and ride around central London without a helmet on.

Comments

Cycles and Large vehicles dont mix

Because the uk is broke,it is a waste of time to suggest proper cycle ways as in the Netherlands,whilst you have cycles and vehicles on the same piece of road this is bound to happen,as a lorry driver and a cyclist I know the dangers and take nothing for granted,generally cyclists get treated apallingly by motorists in general when they should be respected as vulnerable road users,cyclists need to watch out and lorry drivers doubly so,Thankyou.

But it's Johnson's policy!!

"grieves me sometimes to see the way that TfL is blamed."
Johnson should be squarly blamed because he keeps demanding TfL pursue "traffic smoothing", which translates as as maximum motor vehicle throughput. Ooh what a lovely city to attract business to, work in and live in, NOT.

Boris and TfL should look to Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin for superb examples of modern road systems that are efficient, healthy, with clean air, attractiveness, all because roads there are designed to be safe for bikes.

What have helmets got to do with this?

Hi, the 'Boris Bikes' scheme has actually been a huge success - largely due to the fact that people don't have to wear helmets. In Australia, where helmet use is compulsory, both Melbourne and Brisbane's cycle hire schemes have failed on an epic scale. Why this article has even mentioned helmets is beyond me. Helmets are not designed for impacts with cars/HGVs and offer cyclists who wear them a false sense of security. In every country where cycling helmets have been made compulsory levels of cycling have plummeted.Yet the rate of injuries to cyclists actually increases when there are fewer cyclists on the road. The evidence shows that cycle helmets can make certain injuries such as rotational head injuries worse. Also research has shown you are more likely to be hit by a vehicle while wearing one as drivers give you less room. The subject safety principle also means that helmet wearing cyclists are inclined to behave more recklessly on the roads as they believe wearing a helmet offers far greater protection than they do. Cycle helmets were designed for off-road use and low impact crashes at less than 12mph - they are not motorbike helmets and were never intended to be used in collisions with motorised vehicles. Helmets are also a classic part of 'victim blaming', as they pass the responsibility for safety on from the driver of the two tonne vehicle capable of causing death to the vulnerable road user. This approach has become common in this country - and is similar to blaming a female rape victim 'because she was wearing a short skirt'. Forcing people to wear helmets while cycling portrays cycling as a dangerous activity and acts as a major deterrent to people thinking of trying it. I thought in this enlightened age we wanted to encourage cycling rather than driving, as it is a sustainable, green and environmentally friendly form of transport. It also keeps you fit -
surely a selling point when we have epidemic levels of obesity in this
country. Motorists and pedestrians are more at risk of receiving head injuries in accidents than cyclists, so perhaps you should mention this next time a motorist or pedestrian receives a head injury.

I would love to see your

I would love to see your statistic and where thay came from and how they where gathered.to say cyclist should not wear helmets seems crazy to me as any thing that ofers any more protection must be better than none.The issue is not collisions but people being draged under the trucks or crushed against railings.By the way as we are on stats the average speed of a car in london is 8miles per hour.It takes very little to crack a skull and boris has introduced a system that does not encourage people to wear a helmet when riding its not only traffic that can kill, slipping on wet leaves when turning a corner for example can be just as deadly if your head hits the ground.So thats why it should be mentioned .As a cyclist i use an abs helmet that is actually bullet and ballistic tested i also have a set of police riot arm protectors that fit under my jacket (im an ex sevice man now working in security) to give me as much protection as possible and i definatly dont think it makes me invunrable. To say a motorist is more likly to get a head injury again seem ill informed unless you are playing with stats again and add all accidents ie drunk driving speeding and those not wearing seatbelts.

Cycle helmets

Cycle helmets may be off putting to some, but I'd be dead - twice - if I hadn't been wearing one. Choice is yours tho...

Post new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.