A new road safety operation has been launched by the Metropolitan Police as Lewisham cycling campaigners call for officials to shift their focus onto motorists to combat London’s recent cycling fatalities.
The group’s proposals came last week in the wake of Boris Johnson’s controversial comments about cyclists who listen to headphones while riding.
The campaigners are likely to have been further irked by the Metropolitan Police’s latest ‘road safety operation’, launched on Monday morning.
‘Operation Safeway’ saw 650 officers across 60 sites handing out fixed penalty notices to those breaking the law. By Monday afternoon the Evening Standard had already reported on cyclists being angered by the operation.
Jane Davis, Co-ordinator for Lewisham Safe Cycling, said: “I’m quite happy for cyclists to be told they’re doing the wrong thing, if they’re breaking the law. But I’d like to see things like speed limits enforced just as rigorously.”
She continued: “But in some ways I’d like to see that enforced more rigorously because they [cars] have the greater potential to harm. At the end of the day we’ve got to be realistic – a cyclist going through a red light, they shouldn’t do it, I don’t do it, but if they do they’re unlikely to kill anyone.”
Yasmin Wahab, the mother of Khalid al-Hashimi, who was the fifth of six cyclists killed on London’s roads in two weeks, told the Evening Standard that: “He was very experienced on a bike and had been cycling since he was five. The junction where this happened is a death trap and something needs to be done to stop this waste of life.”
In the same article, Jane Reynolds, the former wife of the sixth cyclist to die, called for the urgent improvement of cycling infrastructure in London: “You have to have cycle lanes. You can’t bring hundreds of people onto roads and not have safety provisions in place.”
Davis described how there could be cheaper alternatives to keep the streets safe for all road users, rather than concentrate on exclusively building separate areas for cyclists and motorists. She said: “Just by lowering speed limits, just really simple things, just by Toucan Crossings. It’s not just about cyclists; it’s about all vulnerable road users. I think the roads have got worse for pedestrians too.”
When questioned about the culture of the roads in the London, Davis added: “20mph [in areas where the speed limit is 30pmph] is perfectly adequate. It’s a real problem because cars are so much more powerful now, so you feel like 20mph, when you’re in a car, is really frustrating. But people have to change, people’s mentalities are going to have to change.”