A few days ago a coroner released a report on the deaths of two cyclists killed in London. Both died while cycling along Cycle Superhighway 2, which runs from Bow to Aldgate. Both were hit by heavy goods vehicles. One of them, Philippine De Gerin-Ricard, was riding a Boris Bike.
The report suggests that the Cycle Superhighways, strips of road painted blue for use by cyclists, are inherently confusing and often dangerous, something the London Cycling Campaign has been arguing for some time. The coroner said that much of CS2 amounts to a pseudo cycle lane, lacking the the white edging that would make it legally enforceable and lulling cyclists ‘into a false sense of security’.
The police agree, saying that some of the lanes are ‘ambiguous’ and ‘lead to confusion’. The coroner concluded that there ‘is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken’, and asked Boris Johnson and TFL to respond by 16 December.
On Saturday the London Cycling Campaign held its annual general meeting. It resolved that ‘Cyclists should not be expected to share space with motor vehicles moving above 20mph’ and ‘If cyclists will share space with motor traffic, volumes must be low.’
At mayor’s question time yesterday Johnson was asked what he planned to do about the recent deaths on CS2. ‘I can’t guarantee to Londoners that we are going to produce segregation everywhere that it is desired. I’m afraid that is simply not a realistic objective because there isn’t the road space to do it. The difficulty is that in many cases you take away a huge amount of road space and perhaps don’t deliver the safety improvements that you desire, because, speaking as a daily cyclist, one of the problems that many full-time cyclists have with the segregated option is that actually they don’t always use the segregated gulleys, and I’m not quite convinced it would be the knock-out solution.’ But perhaps we’d be more likely to use them if they were designed with cyclists, rather than cycle-friendly PR, in mind.
The Green Party’s Jenny Jones accused the mayor of not being ‘a normal cyclist’, saying he had ‘a weird view about how these junctions are good for energy levels and adrenaline and that sort of thing, you love them. Most cyclists don’t, they’re frightened of them.’ Jones has said that cycling injuries have increased under Johnson’s mayoralty. He disputes this, but TFL seems to agree. A couple of weeks ago it published a study showing that the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in London was 18 per cent higher in 2012 than in 2011, and confirming that ‘HGVs are disproportionately involved in fatal pedal cycle collisions, with 53 per cent of pedal cycle fatalities between 2008 and 2012 involving direct conflict with a HGV.’
If cycle superhighways are at best cosmetic and at worst inherently dangerous, maybe it’s time to ban HGVs from central London during rush hour. A year ago Paris began regulating HGV delivery times in Ville de Paris, partly in an attempt reduce pollution. It remains to be seen what effect this will have on cycling fatalities, but last week the mayor extended the scheme, announcing plans to ban traffic entirely from some of the busiest routes along the Seine, replacing them with cycle lanes.