Former pro Boardman pushing London mayor Johnson to improve safety for cyclists
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Former pro Boardman pushing London mayor Johnson to improve safety for cyclists

by Shane Stokes at 10:41 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Commuting, Advocacy
Past Tour de France stage winner and hour record holder pushing for a restriction on HGV usage in cities

british cyclingWriting after six cyclists were killed on the streets of London in two weeks, former pro and past world hour record holder Chris Boardman has reminded the Mayor of London Boris Johnson of a promise he made eight months ago to study a measure that would make the streets safer for riders.

Both Paris and Dublin previously introduced rules banning or restricting heavy goods vehicles [HGVs – ed.] from the streets. Despite Johnson’s assurance to Boardman that he would consider the same, no ruling has been made on the matter and several commuters have been killed.

It is possible that some could have been saved had restrictions on HGV use been in place.

Boardman, who raced as a pro between 1993 and 2000 and won stages in the Tour de France and other events, is now British Cycling’s policy advisor.

He has drawn Johnson’s attention to his previous commitment and asked him for an update as to what is happening in relation to that.

“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,” stated Boardman in his letter, which was sent to Johnson and also released to the media by British Cycling.

“Also, in the document, the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London (2013), you state: ‘In consultation with business, we will study the experience from cities such as Paris and Dublin, where lorries over a certain size are restricted from certain parts of the city or at certain times of the day.’”

Boardman points out the high rate of fatal crashes involving HGVs and, in doing so, makes the point that some of those could have been avoided.

“There have now been six cycling fatalities on the capital’s roads in two weeks and a total of 14 so far in 2013. HGVs were involved in nine of the fatal crashes – that’s 64% of the fatalities – despite making up less than 5% of traffic. In Paris last year there were zero cyclist fatalities,” said Boardman.

“British Cycling is disappointed that, eight months later, nothing has been announced on progressing this. Now is the time to make the tough and critical decisions necessary to achieve your vision – without that, more lives will be put at risk.”

Those who have been killed in the past fortnight include 62 year old hospital porter Brian Holt [hit by a tipper lorry on Mile End road on November 5th], 69 year old architect Francis Golding [hit by a coach on Southampton Row the same day], 43 year old IT consultant Roger William De Klerk [hit by a bus outside East Croydon railway station on November 12th] and 24 year old Russian Verena Minakhmetova [hit by a lorry on the Bow roundabout on the same day].

The remaining two riders were killed last Wednesday and yesterday in collisions with a double decker bus and a lorry. They are believed to have been 21 and 61 respectively, but neither has been publicly identified thus far.

While the riders were commuters rather than competitive cyclists, their passing illustrates a wider issue with danger to cyclists of all levels in the British capital and beyond, and raises questions about how seriously their safety is being treated.

Johnson has responded by saying that he is considering a ban on cyclists wearing headphones; this has, justifiably, let to claims of victim blaming, particularly as the bigger issue of HGV safety has not been tackled. Boardman’s letter is timely in this regard, and so too his reminding Johnson of the commitment he previously made.

“Paris is a safer place to ride a bike and we believe that this is, at least in part, due to the restrictions on dangerous vehicles entering the city during peak hours,” he continued in his letter. “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.

“Improving HGV safety is a key aspect of our road safety manifesto. My colleagues at British Cycling are willing to help on this matter in whatever way they can. Do let us know if can be of any assistance.

“I would welcome an update on how this matter is progressing at City Hall.”

In recent years Britain has seen an upsurge in the amount of those using bicycles for transportation, but also in those taking up the sport competitively. The success of British riders in the Olympics, world championships, Tour de France and other races have contributed to the growth.

The issues exposed by the recent loss in life are relevant outside the country, too, with lawmakers needing to consider how to protect those on two wheels from others in motorised vehicles.


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