Fifth cycle death in nine days: Mayor urged to improve safety

Rash of cyclist deaths in London. Pic: Sam Catanzaro

Rash of cyclist deaths in London. Pic: Sam Catanzaro

A fifth London cyclist in the last nine days died on Wednesday, only hours after 1000 people attended a protest in Bow, an attempt to tell Mayor Boris Johnson that the city’s cycling deaths are unacceptable.

The latest incident, involving a male cyclist and a double decker bus, occurred in Tower Hamlets at the junction of Whitechapel Road and Commercial Road at approximately 11:00pm last night.

The London Ambulance Service treated the male cyclist at the scene before he was taken to an East London hospital where he was pronounced dead at 4:00am. The identity of the cyclist is still unknown but he is believed to be 30-years-old.

Location of most recent cyclist death, near Whitechapel and Commercial Roads. Pic: Google Maps

Location of most recent cyclist death, near Whitechapel and Commercial Roads. Pic: Google Maps

Only hours before, a protest was organised by the London Cycling Campaign who wanted to send the message to the Mayor of London that the fast-growing number of cyclists’ deaths is “unacceptable” and dangerous junctions need to be redesigned.

The Commission’s Chief Excutive Ashok Sinha said: “We thank everyone who made the effort to come along to the inhospitable surroundings of Bow roundabout on a cold and dark evening, and we’re pleased the event was a fitting tribute to those who’ve been killed or seriously injured cycling in recent days.”

“We urge Mayor Boris Johnson to respond to the anger and frustration clearly felt by Londoners at the recent tragedies by agreeing to prioritise pedestrian and cycling safety above motor traffic flow, both at Bow and at many other streets and junctions where our lives are threatened each day.”

The protest included a two-minute silence for the latest cyclist death and a slow ride around the bow roundabout by the cyclists in attendance.

Today, Tower Hamlet Mayor Lutfur Rahman has also demanded that Boris Johnson act immediately to safeguard the lives of cyclists. Three of the five cyclists deaths in the last nine days have occurred within his borough’s borders, including deaths at the flawed Bow roundabout.

He said in a press release: “Boris Johnson has repeatedly ignored demands to make Bow roundabout safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Today I am asking to meet Mayor Boris Johnson and demand he act immediately to make the Bow roundabout safer and undertake an urgent review of the Cycle Superhighway in Tower Hamlets.”

According to official figures released by TFL, there have been 13 deaths on the roads of London in 2013 so far, eight of which have involved large goods vehicles with a mass of over 3,500, like the double decker bus that killed the cyclist in Aldgate last night.

But a report released today by the Greater London Authority Conservatives said that 1,889 people had been killed or seriously injured in an accident involving London buses between 2008 and August 2013.

The recent increase in cycling fatalities comes just a week after the Mayor announced plans for the first fully segregated section of Cycle Superhighway 2 (CS2) between Bow and Stratford, with 2 miles of cycle track fully separated from traffic. Still, politicians are calling for further action from the Mayor.

The Shadow infrastructure minister Andrew Adonis used Twitter to call for Mayor of London Boris Johnson to urgently examine the situation: “The mayor should appoint a rapid independent review of superhighways after the horror of all these cyclists’ deaths in London.”

However, the Mayor’s cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan on BBC London said yesterday that this is not the time for panic: “In the current atmosphere of understandable alarm and concern… some panic measure [would] actually makes things worse.”

Adding: “From the beginning, Superhighway 2 [where two of the fatal cycling accidents have recently occurred] has been little more than blue paint and I’ve been pressing to change it.”

Officers from the Met’s Road Death Investigation Unit at Chadwell Heath are investigating last night’s incident but no arrests have been made at this time. The police are asking potential witnesses to call the Met’s non-emergency line.

Flawed Bow Roundabout. Pic: Ian Wright

Flawed Bow Roundabout. Pic: Ian Wright

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