According to new Department for Transport (DfT) figures, a vehicle is involved in a road traffic accident with a cyclist every two hours in London.
Between 2009 and 2013, there were 22,988 recorded cycling accidents involving vehicles within the M25. These included 80 deaths and amounted to 12 accidents a day.
Elephant and Castle roundabout in South London was revealed as the worst accident blackspot in the capital with 80 cycling accidents over five years.
The DfT figures were analysed by insurance company Aviva, which revealed that two-thirds of the injury claims it handled across Britain in one 12-month period involved cyclists commuting to work.
Damningly, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) were implicated in almost 75% of all the cycling accidents they dealt with. These figures are extremely alarming especially in light of the millions of pounds supposedly being set aside for cycling safety schemes.
Transport for London (TfL) need to show their resolve to protect cyclists by spending the money they are allocated each year on improving junctions around renowned accident blackspots such as Elephant and Castle, Bow Road, Waterloo Road, Blackfriars, Trafalgar Square and Kings Cross.
This financial year, TfL has only spent £29m of its allocated £82m cycling budget. London needs better cycling infrastructure to ensure the increasing number of cyclists in the capital can complete their journeys safely.
We wholeheartedly welcome DfT’s announcement that they are investing £1bn to upgrade existing Cycle Superhighways across London and backstreet “Quietways”. But we also need to see major new segregated cycle routes so that cyclists are protected from traffic in busy areas of London.
Tragically we have already seen four cyclists killed in London so far this year, with the most recent case involving a mother-of-two who was struck and killed by a lorry in Victoria last week.
Unsurprisingly, all of these deaths have involved HGVs. On the back of the Safer Lorry Scheme whereby extended view mirrors and side guards are to become mandatory on any vehicle travelling in Greater London weighing more than 3.5 tonnes, we also need to focus on introducing cycle sensors on HGVs.
Since the start of the year 29 people have been killed on London’s roads including four cyclists. In 2014, the figure was 10.
The three-fold increase in the number of London cyclist deaths has prompted the Metropolitan Police to re-launch its Operation Safeway safety campaign - which started in 2013 following the deaths of six cyclists in just two weeks.
The six week operation has seen 600 officers deployed across the capital at 166 junctions during the morning and evening rush hours, targeting motorists and cyclists who commit traffic offences.
Police have said they will specifically focus on vehicle defects and drivers who use mobile phones behind the wheel, speed, or fail to wear seat belt, as well as cyclists who jump red lights or fail to have adequate lights on their bikes.
Paul Kitson is a keen cyclist and Slater and Gordon’s Principal Lawyer for the CTC, the UK’s national cycling charity.
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