Posts Tagged ‘cyclist safety in London’

I ride a bike almost every day, somewhere in London. Sometimes it’s half a mile to the grocery store, sometimes it’s 8 or 9 miles up to East London, sometimes it’s 12 miles across to West London. Every time I ride I see people taking dangerous risks around HGVs (transport trucks). We need to educate as many riders as possible on the risk of death from actions such as undertaking at roundabouts or going down the inside at a light. Unfortunately, there are instances where the cyclist is exactly where they are supposed to be, and should be fully visible to the driver, but they are somehow not seen, hit, and killed. Please read the below message and forward to your local government officials (Europe only).

Thank you.

A message from Kate Cairns:

Two years ago on Thursday 5th February 2009 my sister Eilidh, was run down by a tipper lorry in Notting Hill Gate whilst cycling to work. She died 2 hours later. She was 30. She was a strong experienced cyclist, commuting a 20mile round trip daily.

The coroner concluded that it was more likely than not Eilidh was ahead of the lorry, that she was available to be seen by the driver, and that the front offside bumper of the lorry made contact with the rear wheel of the cycle, causing it to fall and Eilidh to be caught up in the wheels.

Last year the driver pleaded guilty to driving with uncorrected defective vision and was given 3 points and a £3200 fine. He said he did not see her. He is still driving his truck.

Heavy Goods Vehicles count for 45% of all London cyclist deaths but make up only 5% of road traffic. Across Europe 4000 people, mostly unprotected road
users such as cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians are killed each because of HGV blind spots.

Our local Member of European Parliament is proposing a change to EU legislation to have HGVs fitted with sensors and cameras to remove their blind spots with Written Declaration 81.

We have a ready-made letter, which is translated, along with the actual WD, into all 23 languages across the EU. (Contact me if you cant find the link to your language)

1. PLEASE email the letter to ALL of your MEPs ASAP. It will take less than 2 minutes. We have a link to the letter, and to your MEPs.*

In order to be effective this declaration needs to be signed by half of the 736 MEPs. There are only 72 MEPs in the UK.

2. PLEASE forward this email to as many contacts as possible far and wide across Europe.
*Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania,
Slovenia, Finland, Sweden.

The WD lapses in less than 2 weeks on Wed 16th Feb. Please act swiftly.

If you want to do more:

3. PLEASE come to Strasbourg for 15th and/or 16th Feb to lobby MEPs as they go into the session.

We are taking Eurostar on Monday 14th Feb, returning Wednesday 16th Feb.

4. PLEASE come to Hyde Park Corner 11.30-12.30 on Monday 14th Feb, for a media event, before we leave for Strasbourg

All the links are here http://www.eilidhcairns.com/campaign

We really appreciate 3 minutes of your time to do 1 and 2. It can help save lives. Lives that are cherished and sorely lost.

Apologies for any cross-posting.

Kate Cairns

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photo courtesy of the London Cycling Campaign

As a cyclist, knowing the dangers of the road is paramount. Governments spend much more time and money into making sure drivers are knowledgeable about the rules of the road than any other group of road users, but I’m starting to wonder if there ought to be some sort of similar mandatory road training for cyclists as well. I can see this being roundly criticized by most cyclists I know, but for instance, I took to the streets of London without being fully aware of the rules for how to navigate roundabouts, X crossings and T junctions, both. Same rules apply to both situations. The person on the right always has the right of way, just like at a four-way stop sign junction in the States.

Where things get really dangerous, inconsiderate or even seemingly homicidally-inclined drivers aside, is with heavy goods vehicles, or HGVs. Dump trucks (skips, in the UK), moving vans, lorries, 12- and 14-wheelers, whatever you call them, are the vehicles most likely to be involved in a fatal accident involving a cyclist in London. By mid-December 2009, 13 cyclists had died in road collisions, 9 of which were the result of collisions with HGVs and 8 of the dead were women. I don’t doubt it’s the case most other places where cyclists are expected to be on the road as well. I make a distinction because in Florida I felt it was completely unsafe to ride in the road because no driver there seems to expect cyclists. I was actually knocked partially off my bicycle by a driver looking left, edging into the cross-walk, when I had the walk signal, because she had the legal right to turn right on red (left on red in countries where vehicles drive on the left) and was not doing her duty by checking for people trying to cross to her right. As a driver, I loved that this was allowed, as it let me get where I wanted to go (seemingly) faster. As a cyclist and a pedestrian, I loathe the added danger to myself and others and think this law should be abolished. It works just fine for London and NYC, so volume of vehicles on the road may not be cited as a reason to keep it in place.

It is also important to remember that many people born and raised in cities like London and NYC have never driven, so may not know the blind spots of a normal-sized car, let alone those of a larger vehicle. Add to that the fact that driver training can be spotty; I was taught that if you can see a tractor trailer’s mirrors, the driver can see you. This might be true on paper, but in practice it is much trickier and, while drivers of these vehicles must be given every opportunity (more mirrors, larger mirrors) to see other road users, and required to be as vigilant as possible, it is equally true that road users need to treat them as the 20-ton potential death-bringers that they are.

As such, Moving Target, a courier zine dedicated to London couriers and cycling info around the UK, has published a diagram showing the blind spots of these vehicles for further safety of cyclists. Blue boxes are the HGV, green areas are visible places, dark green are those less visible and the red areas are blind spots.

Beyond simply remembering to ride on the left side of the road, beyond remembering to stop for pedestrians at zebra crossings (this one still gets me sometimes), beyond roundabouts, I must remember to flip-flop driver side and though asked to ride to the left side of the left lane in England, that it is important to remember driver blind spots are larger on that side, and comprise larger areas for larger vehicles. Be hyper-vigilant when passing to the left unless you know the vehicle can’t turn. Don’t pass to the left when the vehicle is stationary unless you know a) the vehicle cannot turn left, or b) how long the light has been red and how long it has before the vehicle can proceed. Consider obstructions to your path up ahead, such as parked vehicles on the other side of the junction. Always be alert to the possibility that the driver might plan to turn either direction and neglect to use indicators, and pass to the right so as to end up directly in front of the driver, and ensure that he or she has seen you, when stopping at a light.

In driver-on-left-side countries, remember to reverse all “left” and “rights” to follow the fact that the driver is on the left side.

Stay safe, and above all Arrive Alive.

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