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First fatality in Boris Bike incident on Cycle Superhighway

By Principal Lawyer, Personal Injury

A young woman has tragically died after a collision with a lorry while riding a Boris Bike in East London on Friday 5th July 2013. This marks the first fatality on one of the Barclays Cycle Hire bicycles since they were introduced in 2010.

The woman, aged 20, was struck down by an HGV turning left from Whitechapel High Street as she rode along the CS2 Cycle Superhighway. These cycle lanes were intended to provide cycle-safe routes into the Capital.

This incident has attracted much criticism of the superhighways with some suggesting that they amount to little more than blue paint on the road. Critics have pointed out that we still have much to learn from countries like Denmark and Holland where cyclists have segregated lanes which keep them apart from motorists.

Even before this accident occurred the London Cycling Campaign had already notified Transport for London that the junction in question was dangerous because vehicles turn across it. Many other sections of the superhighways have similar problems.
As a law firm specialising in Cycling Accident Claims we recognise from first hand experience the need for the roads to be made safer for cyclists. Whilst all developments designed to make the roads safer for cyclists should be encouraged, tragic incidents like this highlight the limits of the protection these lanes offer to cyclists. Cyclists need to be aware that these lanes do not guarantee their safety as they must still share the road space with motor vehicles. They must still contend with vehicles turning across these lanes and frequently driving in them.  They must also share the road space with HGVs whose drivers often have very limited ability to see cyclists who are in close proximity to them.

This tragic incident is all too similar to many cases we have been involved in in recent years where cyclists have been killed or seriously injured by lorries turning across their path. It is the most common cause of fatal cycling accidents in London.

On some routes into the Capital cycling has become the main form of transport during the rush hour. Unless significant changes are made to the Capital’s roads there will continue to be regular tragedies of this nature.

Boris Bikes have helped to make cycling an easy option for transport in central London. But users need to be aware that most London roads are simply not designed in such a way that their safety has been given priority. One fears for the safety of foreign tourists, especially those used to more cycle friendly road designs, who opt to use Boris Bikes on London’s busy and often cycle-hostile roads.

Deaths and injuries among cyclists have risen sharply in 2012. There can be no doubt that changes are needed to reverse this trend. The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group recently recommended a number of changes including segregated routes and road reallocation, separate traffic lights for cyclists, and improving HGV safety by vehicle design, driver training and restricting where they can go. One can only hope that these recommendations will be implemented as soon as possible to prevent any more tragedies such as this.

By Personal Injury Lawyer Richard Geraghty, member of Slater and Gordon's Cycle Injury Unit and London Cyclist.

Read more about Cycling Accident Claims.