This month in London, five cyclists died in just nine days, shocking the public and prompting campaigners to demand road safety improvements. Ahead of Friday’s “die-in” demonstration outside the Transport for London office in Southwark, East London Lines has examined cycling statistics and potential safety measures in ELL boroughs.
Statistics across the EastLondonLines boroughs show that areas closer to central London have more fatalities and injuries than others, suggesting that an infrastructure improvement to areas with heavy traffic could potentially make a difference to safety levels.
Hackney and Tower Hamlets have had almost three times as many cycling injuries than Lewisham and Croydon, which are both less centrally located.
Tower Hamlets has seen 14 cyclists collide with vehicles in the last five years, with 2013 proving to be a particularly bad year. There have been seven incidents in this area since the start of the year, including five fatalities.
The borough includes the notorious Bow roundabout, where two cyclists have lost their lives this year. Despite Transport for London’s attempts to improve cyclist safety at this roundabout, the layout has made it a dangerous area for cyclists to navigate.
Bow roundabout was designed with the intention of protecting cyclists, although its layout can be confusing at times and depends on communication between cyclists and drivers as well as an understanding of the roundabout by all road users.
The junction is a major area for congestion, with four main roads feeding in and out of the city. Traffic light cycles are especially brief here and do not afford cyclists the time to complete the roundabout in one turn.
Hackney has seen a relatively constant number of cycling incidents over the last five years. The borough has had one injury in 2013, and 14 total collisions in the last five years. The borough does include the Old Street roundabout, a spot where, like Bow, traffic funnels into the roundabout from four different directions. Three cyclists have been injured over the past four years here. There is also no cycle path running around the roundabout, forcing cyclists and drivers to share the road.
Lewisham and Croydon, two boroughs with significantly less traffic than Hackney and Tower Hamlets, have each had four incidents where cyclists and motorists have collided.
In response to the cyclist deaths, Boris Johnson said that there was little he could do to make London’s streets safer for cyclists, a week after he announced a new safety plan for the Superhighway 2 between Bow and Aldgate.
But the numbers incontestably show that both the Bow and Old Street roundabouts have caused problems for cyclists. Apart from a complete separation of cyclists and motorists on the roads, there are few other options for securing cyclist safety.
Johnson has also suggested a ban on lorries at rush hour around London, similar to the ban implemented to decrease traffic during the 2012 Olympic Games. In the East London Lines boroughs, over 70 per cent of cycling accidents have involved large goods vehicles, most of which were lorries, suggesting that a ban on lorries could make cycling safer during rush hour.
But, he recognises that banning lorries from London’s streets is not an option, saying:
“What is difficult is to imagine that we could somehow ban them altogether from London roads when they are needed for construction, they are needed to keep the economy going.”