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5 Deaths, 9 Days: London Deserves Better

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richheap
richheap  
11/19/2013 2:15:42 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Really awful
@stillalive: Well, it was at a roundabout in the middle lane. They weren't stopping for a fare, but I had just come over a bridge so the braking times were different. It still shook me up a bit, but I'm sure that most cyclists have got stories like this and stories much worse.

stillalive
stillalive  
11/19/2013 1:09:25 PM
User Rank Town Crier
Re: Really awful
Yes, more accidents whilst driving or sitting at lights or parked, though to be fair not many either in a car or on a bike. I suppose my point is that somebody who starts cycling must understand that they have as much road sense to learn or re-learn as they do or did when they start driving. I too have hit a taxi from behind whilst cycling, they see fares and stop, so don't feel bad about it.

I'm really not sure about my dystopian cycling future. It's just that there is a reaction that seems to be gaining momentum and I would hate to exascerbate it. The change from when we were all younger is the deadpan blinkered approach to safety demonstrated by organisations like the HSE in the building industry that seems now to be extending to all human activities. But like you I agree there are some common sense precautions that cyclists ought to take and a bit of a crackdown does nobody any harm. The problems for us start if the dead-pan logic runs away with the common sense. 

richheap
richheap  
11/19/2013 12:42:49 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Really awful
Thanks for sharing all this, stillalive. I have a question about your accident statistics. Are you saying that you had more accidents while driving or cycling? I've only been driving for a few years but I haven't knocked into anyone in my car; but did accidentally hit the back of a taxi while I was on my bike and my brakes weren't working properly because it was cold. This is a very small sample but, for me personally, I can't see any great difference. If I was to spend as much time cycling as I do driving then I would expect more bike accidents.

And, as for your vision of a dystopian cycling future, do you think this is a likely scenario? Or is it a worst-case scenario? I only ask as we've today heard about Boris Johnson looking at potentially banning cyclists from wearing headphones while cycling (which sounds like a sensible move to me); and there's also been a crackdown on cyclists without "appropriate" safety equipment like helmets and lights. I'm not saying that I think these are bad moves, but it does hint at the type of world you're describing.

richheap
richheap  
11/19/2013 8:34:42 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Really awful
@Toby: My three priorities if I want to be mayor of London are:

(1) Get an amusing haircut

(2) Get a posher accent

(3) Get some good gag writers

Or am I answering the question I want to answer rather than the question you asked? If so, then I consider myself perfectly qualified. No more questions. This press conference is over.

stillalive
stillalive  
11/19/2013 7:56:05 AM
User Rank Town Crier
Re: Really awful
Thanks Sunshine for putting it so well, I too have survived 40+ years cycling in London and admit I am still learning. Your comment and Rich's on ancient street layouts summarise the problem well and suggest the immediate if not the longer term solution. 

One point that I can add is to suggest the at people who also drive in London should look at the number of accidents, from near zero severity upwards, they had during the first few years of that driving in London and compare that with the number of accidents they had during the first few years of cycling. In my case the numbers didn't even out till around 15 years when I started to drive as over-cautiously as I cycle. I no longer behave as if I have any right of way, even as a pedestrian, or even on a horse I was asked to help squire through Bayswater. (None of my accidents involved cyclists, or other cyclists, and my definition of accidents includes any form of contact with another vehicle or the road!!!)

Being pessimistic about petitions and politicians, I offer the following off-beam comment as a warning about being too strident without being constructive.

My cycling nightmare is not a 40 tonne truck but a future bureaucratic system that requires us to pay a licence, have 24/7 flashing lights beside, behind and before, and an instruction to the police to levy on-the-spot fines for a raft of new cycling offences which extend the highway code, with impounding of the bike if the cyclist refuses to pay. All this after a cycling test, an ear, eye, and balance test, retaken every 5 years or every year if you are my age, 132. The licence fee would be necessary to pay for the said bureaucracy, which would consume all the cash that should be spent on road improvements, but this kind of approach is fairly typical of soft liberal centre politics allied with the H&S industry. There would be some justice in demanding that cyclists contribute to road improvements that benefit only them but few governments are honest enough to keep to their side of such a bargain.

Toby
Toby  
11/19/2013 7:53:55 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Really awful
Well then I would vote for you as Mayor...Hizzoner Rich as long as you can answer the following question correctly: As Mayor of London, what would your top 3 priorities be for the City..?

sunshine
sunshine  
11/19/2013 6:41:34 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Really awful
You're right that this is not the answer to our immediate problem of cycle deaths which, for the most part are related to the unresolved  mis-match between size and weight of large goods vehicles and cyclists on the same roadway.

...and yes car-free is difficult. There were plenty of objections raised by the Congestion Charge and as one who lives in it I'm very aware of the day to day problems; but you get used to it and inner city life did improve when it was introduced.  Unfortunately traffic congestion has now risen to pre-congestion levels so now is probably the time to try something more radical.

 

richheap
richheap  
11/18/2013 6:07:34 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Really awful
@sunshine @Toby: Well, I'm not 100% convinced as it doesn't sound fair to prevent those in the congestion charging zone from using their cars, even to get out of London. And it'd surely add to the congestion outside the congestion charge zone, which is where these recent deaths have occurred, and increase the risk for cyclists in those parts of London.

But, having said that, it sounds possible and I'd be happy to give it a go. No solution will ever be perfect.

Toby
Toby  
11/18/2013 5:55:32 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Really awful
@Agreed: It just takes a little bit of strong thinking and leadership. Years ago when Ken introduced the congestion tax it was looking like it would be a failure but no, it is now accepted as the smartest thing the city ever done.

sunshine
sunshine  
11/18/2013 4:22:32 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Really awful
It could start in the 'congestion zone' ......

Toby's idea is not as impossible or as implausible as it might sound and would certainly be worth trying. As a starter a once a month or once a week car-free day would be easy to achieve. We could put on more buses, they don't need to run down every street, just where they go now. Taxis would stay as part of the public transport system. Delivery vans could have controlled hours and with no cars to contend with, could move more easily.  

We have to look further to stop cycle accidents though, the majority of fatalities have been caused by left-turning HGVs, mainly construction vehicles and long-distance buses ....see previous comment. But with no private cars on the road it would be easier to control these.

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