25 January 2012
Tristan Hallam: How many more deaths?
I read that last year, 16 cyclists were killed in London. With more and more people taking to their bicycle for a variety of reasons (to exercise, save money as it is certainly more economical to cycle despite the initial outlay than it is taking public transport), I anticipate this number will rise. I had to drive into work for the last 3 days and what has struck me driving in Central London with all the other traffic, taxis, motorcycles, bicycles travelling into town, is that the roads are simply treacherous.For one, there are not enough cycle paths. Instead, when I cycle which is usually daily, what I and fellow cyclists have to rely upon, is bus lanes. In addition, there are not enough bus lanes and those are of course being used by buses and taxis.What further struck me is that cyclists take risks which they should not do and as a fellow cyclist I have equally taken risks, weaving my way through traffic which is in itself a dangerous manoeuvre but sometimes necessary given the build up of traffic in London. Driving into London these last 3 days has however certainly opened my eyes. I can see cyclists take risks but I can also see how car drivers equally take risks which others lives and leave very little space for cyclists.The simple issue is that we do not have the mentality in London as they do say in Amsterdam, for driving in a large congested city and at the same time being able to and having the opportunity to, have due regard for cyclists and provide them with sufficient space. Equally from a cyclists perspective, we simply do not have the space to be able to cycle at a reasonable speed and safely without having to stop and start constantly, change direction and place ourselves at risk.It takes very little to organise a cycle path. There are some excellent cycle paths in London which are well used for commuting during the course of the morning and late afternoon and I am sure with a little thought and whatever spare cash might be lying around, we could make this City safe for cyclists and to rival Cities such as Amsterdam.Unfortunately very little regard is had to what cyclists require to make themselves safe. By way of example, I cycle on a regular basis through Hyde Park. The North cycle lane through Hyde was blocked off before Christmas since the road that runs parallel to the Bayswater Road was being used as a car park for HGVs which were bringing equipment into Hyde Park for the Christmas Fair. Instead, cyclists had to use the footpath together with pedestrians and at night time, since the area is not particularly well lit, it made it difficult to see pedestrians let alone other cyclists unless they are properly displaying lights.London can be a great City, even for cyclists. At this stage however, I have real concerns that safety standards are slipping considerably and more deaths and serious injuries will arise.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker.If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.
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