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Cyclists warned to ride safely

Tue, 19 Nov 2013

BICYCLE RIDERS need to take more responsibility for their own safety in the wake of a spate of cyclists' deaths, one of London's top police officers has said.

Chief Superintendent Glyn Jones's comments came after launching a new initiative that will see 2,500 officers being asked to reinforce traffic rules in the capital's most notorious black spots from tomorrow.

The initiative was in response to the worrying statistic that six cyclists have been killed on London's roads in two weeks.

Mr Jones said while he "didn't want to point the finger at anyone", cyclists were at an obvious disadvantage on the roads.

"I think the more vulnerable you are, the more careful you need to be - even if the law is on your side," he said.

"It is no comfort to a grieving family, but yes, the more vulnerable you are, the more care you need to take."

Mr Jones said a major problem area was cyclists trying to pass a lorry or heavy vehicle on the left side before it makes a left-hand turn.

More than half the cyclists who have died on London's roads since January 2010 were killed in this way, he said.

"I'm not saying they're doing anything wrong," he said.

"What I am saying is if you approach a junction and there's an HGV (heavy goods vehicle), it might be more prudent to hang back than try to overtake the HGV on the inside."

Mr Jones said police would be enforcing all road rules during the blitz, including failing to stop at red lights, failing to stop at advance lines for cyclists and using mobile phones.

The initiative would not cost New Scotland Yard anything because resources would be allocated from other areas.

An unnamed man, believed to be 61, was killed after his bike and a lorry collided at about noon yesterday.

Last Wednesday, a 21-year-old male cyclist, who is also yet to be named, died after a collision with a double-decker bus at the junction of Whitechapel Road and Commercial Road.

Earlier that day, Russian Verena Minakhmetova, 24, was killed after her bike and a lorry collided on the Bow roundabout in east London.

A day earlier, IT consultant Roger William De Klerk, 43, of Forest Hill, died after a collision with a bus outside East Croydon railway station. He died in St George's Hospital shortly after the incident.

On November 5, architect Francis Golding, 69, was in a crash with a coach in Southampton Row, central London. He died three days later in St Mary's hospital.

Just hours earlier, hospital porter Brian Holt, 62, died at the scene of a collision with a tipper lorry on Mile End Road.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said he thought cyclists using headphones while riding on London's streets are an "absolute scourge" and he would not be against banning them.

"I'm very alarmed about cyclists wearing headphones," he told BBC London 94.9 today.

"I would not be against a prohibition or ban on cyclists wearing headphones.

"Call me illiberal but it makes me absolutely terrified to see them bowling along unable to hear the traffic."

British Cycling's policy adviser, Chris Boardman, has called on Mr Johnson to honour a promise he made to investigate what other cities around the world do to restrict lorries from busy areas during peak times.

"When I rode alongside you to help you launch your vision for cycling in March this year, you made a verbal promise to look at the successful experiences of Paris and many other cities in restricting the movements of heavy vehicles during peak hours," he wrote in a letter to Mr Johnson.

"London has an opportunity to emulate and surpass Paris and to lead the way for the other ambitious cycling cities across Britain.

"Let's not waste this opportunity to do something now. The longer we delay, the more lives will be lost."

In Paris last year, there were no cyclist fatalities.

The House of Commons Transport Committee is to hold an oral evidence session on cycle safety on December 2.

The committee's chairman Louise Ellman said today: "Six cyclists have been killed in London in the last two weeks: 14 have been killed so far this year, equalling the number killed in the whole of 2012.

"These are individual tragedies for the families involved, but they also draw attention to continuing concerns about the safety of cyclists on our roads."

She went on: "Many of these casualties involve large vehicles, especially HGVs, and there is now debate about whether they should be banned from city centres at peak times. This will have consequences for businesses which need to be assessed.

"There is also debate about the behaviour of drivers and cyclists and whether more can be done to promote compliance with the law. Concerns have also been expressed about whether vehicle and road infrastructure could be changed to protect cyclists and whether new developments, such as London's cycle superhighways, are safe. We would like to stimulate debate on all of these matters."

By Nathan Paull, Press Association