A cycle tour with a difference takes place on Saturday in London. It will involve up to 150 cyclists touring the capital’s 10 most dangerous junctions for bicycles to highlight what they believe is unnecessarily dangerous road designs.
London bike bloggers Danny Williams (Cyclists in the City blog) and Mark Ames (ibikelondon blog), who have been instrumental in setting up the tour of the junctions, say Transport for London’s policy of “smoothing the traffic flow” has been put above people’s safety in critical road junctions.
Cycling community anger
The ride reflects high levels of anger in the cycling community following two cyclist’s deaths in London in October. Min Joo Lee (Deep Lee), a 24 year old fashion student at Central St Martin’s College, was killed after a collision with a heavy goods vehicle in King’s Cross. This was quickly followed by the death of Brian Dorling, 58, the first cyclist to die on one of Boris Johnson’s new Barclays Cycle Superhighways after being struck by a tipper lorry on CS2 at the Bow Roundabout.
More recently, a News International employee was struck by a left turning vehicle on the Highway – she suffered serious injuries and is now in intensive care at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel. So far 14 cyclists have died on London streets this year.
Mark said he and Danny wanted to see for themselves just how poor some of these junctions in London really were and they are delighted that others will be joining the tour to highlight Transport for London’s inaction.
“We have been totally overwhelmed by the response. People from all over London have been contacting us to say they will be coming along too and that they want to express their anger at the inequality of these urban spaces.
“Junctions which are designed just to crush as much traffic through as possible are too much to manage for most people; splashes of blue paint and some positive marketing are just not enough”
Danny said that the junctions were a hangover of 1960′s style urban design and was not safe for anyone.
He added: “It’s abhorrent that in the 21st century we have junctions which are so poorly designed and aimed solely at squeezing as many vehicles through as possible that casualties at these sites are almost seen as inevitable. Transport for London can’t keep on encouraging people to walk and to cycle without addressing the serious issue of safety around these junctions first – it’s completely irresponsible.”
The 10 junctions chosen for the ride are based on a list that Transport for London compiled for the Mayor of London’s Question Time based on volume of cyclists killed or seriously injured at the sites, following a question by London Assembly Member Valorie Shawcross. The junctions that will be visited (and in order) are:
1. Clapham Road/ Kennington Park Road/ Camberwell Road Junction
2. St. George’s Road/London Road/ Elephant & Castle Junction Southwark (E&C)
3. Elephant & Castle/Newington Butts Roundabout (E&C)
4. Albert Embankment/Kennington Lane/ Wandsworth Road Junction (Vauxhall Cross)
5. Millbank/Lambeth Bridge Junction (Lambeth Bridge)
6. Hyde Park Corner Westminster
7. Strand/Northumberland Avenue/Whitehall Junction (Trafalgar Square)
8. Waterloo Road/ Stamford St/ York Road Junction (Waterloo Circus)
9. Clerkenwell Road/Farringdon Road Junction (via Kings Cross)
10. Mansion House St/Princes St/ Threadneedle St
Bank Junction, which is No 10 on the list, will be closed Saturday due to the London Lords Mayor Show, so the ride will stop at Kings Cross to pay respects to Min Loo Lee. A Ghost Bike has been put up there as a memorial to her.
The ride on Saturday will depart St Mark’s Church, Oval at 10.30am before ending at bike cafe Look Mum No Hands on Old Street.
The ride itself will be marshalled by volunteers with London Cycling Campaign providing logistical support and insurance for participants.
Participants in the ride will be encouraged to take photographs, record their experiences, and rate each of the junctions for space for safe cycling, pedestrian friendliness, subjective safety, noise levels and air quality. All the data will be compiled in to a report which will be presented to Transport for London.
The ride is sure to bring the issue to a wider public consciousness and maybe even take the issue nationally. One national newspaper has indicated they plan to cover the ride along with local newspapers and other local London media.
If you have a chance, and don’t want to participate on the full ride, catch the tour at its various points. Ben and Danny will welcome the company I’m sure.