Boris Johnson changes stance on cyclist safety as new plans to redesign fatal junctions are revealed

Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Photo: Transport for London

Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Photo: Transport for London

Thirty-three junctions in Zone One will be redesigned to make them safer for cyclists, Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced yesterday.

Contrary to previous statements where the Mayor stated that cyclists need to obey the laws of the road, Johnson has now announced plans to redesign road infrastructure to improve safety for cyclists. He also wanted Londoners to know that his passion for bikes does not make him a cycling messiah, as he said to the Evening Standard: “I am a passionate cyclist, but I am not some kind of Pied Pedaller”.

In recent weeks, London Cycling Campaign has criticised the Mayor, after he suggested that cyclists should take safety measures like riding without headphones and with high-visibility clothing and helmets.

In the infamous November week when five cyclists were killed in nine days, Johnson said: “There’s no amount of traffic engineering that we invest that is going to save people’s lives”.

In the EastLondonLines boroughs, two junctions have proved particularly dangerous. The notorious Bow Roundabout in Tower Hamlets has seen two cyclists killed in the last year, while three cyclists were injured at the Old Street Roundabout in Hackney in the last four years.

The infrastructure of the roundabouts forces cyclists and motorists to share the road. Although alternative layouts designed to protect cyclists were tested, users deemed them unsatisfactory.

The redesigning is the last of Johnson’s four-part concerted campaign to improve cycling safety in the capital. He said: “Our streets should be as famous for cycling, and as popular with cyclists as the streets of Copenhagen or Amsterdam — and as safe.”

The Mayor also stressed the importance of education to road safety. Talking about his cycle safety tips campaign, which has so far funded training for 8,723 adults and 38,743 children, he said: “If you want to learn to ride in London, and you are apprehensive, then we will certainly help you — just as we are helping thousands of drivers.”

The other two elements of the Mayor’s wider campaign include a focus on vehicle safety. Lorries will be required to display audio and visual warnings, and a harsher control of bad practice by careless drivers operating dangerous vehicles will be enforced.

In the EastLondonLines boroughs, over 70 per cent of cycling accidents involved large goods vehicles, most of which were lorries.

The London Cycling Campaign responded to the Mayor’s comments yesterday. The Chief Executive Ashok Sinha said the Mayor’s decision to provide protected lanes on main roads and better infrastructure improvements are frequently ignored on the Superhighways, and on the junctions where a lot of accidents occur.

Sinha said: “Rather than causing congestion, encouraging more Londoners to switch to bicycles is one of the best ways to reduce long-term traffic congestion on our streets as well as overcrowding on public transport.”

However, nothing in Johnson’s statement suggests he’s not actively encouraging Londoners to switch to cycling. Johnson wrote that London should be “a perfect city to ride a bike,” with fewer hills than Paris, temperate weather, and more green space and parks than any other European city.

He also wrote: “There is a huge amount of work to be done. It will take time, humility, and about £1 billion just for starters. It can and must be done.”

The junctions chosen for the re-development will be announced in the New Year.

Cycling deaths in the ELL boroughs in the last 5 years:

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