Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Cycle deaths put pressure on mayor

A cyclist has been killed by a bus in east London

London mayor Boris Johnson is under pressure over road safety after five cyclist deaths in nine days.

As police named one of the victims as 24-year-old Venera Minakhmetova from Bethnal Green, east London, former transport secretary Lord Adonis called for an independent review of the cycling "superhighways" in the capital.

Cycling charity CTC said all bike riders were "sickened by the continuing failure to protect cyclists", while British Cycling called for an "urgent investigation" into the deaths.

Speaking on radio station LBC 97.3 following five London cyclist deaths in nine days, Mr Johnson said: "There's no question of blame or finger-pointing. That doesn't work in these circumstances.

"But unless people obey the laws of the road and people actively take account of the signals that we put in, there's no amount of traffic engineering that we invest in that is going to save people's lives."

Green Party peer Baroness Jones responded on Twitter by saying: "Grrr. How dare Mayor of London blame cycling victims?! So it's not his buses nor his smoothing-traffic-flow policy, nor his poor schemes?"

Ms Minakhmetova, a Russian national, died after an accident involving a lorry at the Bow roundabout in east London in yesterday morning's rush-hour.

It is thought she and the lorry were travelling west along the A11 when the collision occurred. The male lorry driver stopped at the scene and spoke to police. There have been no arrests.

Detective Sergeant Stuart Henson from the Metropolitan Police's road death investigation unit is leading the investigation.

He said: "I would appeal to anyone who witnessed the collision, or the events leading up to the collision, to contact police.

"It is vital that we piece together the series of events which led to Venera's tragic death."

Just a few minutes after the Bow death, a male cyclist, believed to be in his 30s, was badly injured in a collision with a lorry in Millbank, central London. He remains in a critical condition.

Last night a cyclist was hit by a double-decker bus in Aldgate, east London, and died in hospital at 4am today. The male bus driver was treated for shock at the scene.

Lord Adonis, who was transport secretary in the last Labour government, said today: " The mayor should appoint a rapid independent review of (cycling) superhighways after the horror of all these cyclists' deaths in London."

CTC chief executive Gordon Seabright said "CTC and all cyclists are sickened by the continuing failure to protect cyclists, in particular from the dangers caused by lorries in our towns and cities.

"We want to see the mayor of London and all those responsible for the safety of our streets living up to their promises."

British Cycling campaigns manager Martin Key said: "While cyclist deaths are rare, it is clearer than ever that national government and councils must take urgent action on designing roads that address cyclists' needs.

"The fact that five cyclists have been killed in London in the last nine days is shocking news and an urgent investigation needs to take place into what could have been done to prevent these deaths."

RAC technical director David Bizley said: "This tragic series of deaths in just a few days is yet another terrible demonstration of the well-known dangers that occur when heavy goods vehicles and cyclists share road space.

"While some routes, such as the London cycling superhighway are now being designed to segregate cyclists from traffic, elements of these designs need to be closely re-examined as they clearly are not working as well as they were intended."

Mr Johnson said: "Some of the cases that we've seen in the last few days really make your heart bleed because you can see that people have taken decisions that really did put their lives in danger.

"You cannot blame the victim in these circumstances. But what you can say is that ,when people make decisions on the road that are very risky - jumping red lights, moving across fast-moving traffic in a way that is completely unexpected and without looking to see what traffic is doing - it's very difficult for the traffic engineers to second-guess that.

"I'm appealing to all cyclists, as well as all motorists, do think of the laws of the road, because if you take these hasty, rash decisions that we're seeing sometimes, then you will be endangering your life."

Including last night's incident, 13 cyclists have died on London's roads so far this year.

In 2012, there were 14 cyclists' deaths, while in 2011 a total of 16 cyclists were killed.

Recent provisional Government figures for nationwide road casualties showed that the number of pedal cyclists killed or seriously injured rose 4% in the period April-June 2013 compared with the total for the same period in 2012.

Total pedal cyclist casualties (killed, seriously injured and slightly injured) were 12% up in the second quarter of 2013 compared with the period April-June 2012.

The Department for Transport pointed out that the exceptionally wet weather in the April to June period last year may have been at least partly responsible for the rise in cyclist casualties.

The department's figures also showed that total pedal cyclist casualties for the 12 months ending June 2013 were 1% down on the total for the 12 months ending June 2012.

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