Archives For decade of action

Exchanging places is a scheme run by The Cycle Task Force of the Met. A fantastic scheme that gets cyclists into HGV’s and shows them the blind spots! It’s a real eye opener, I was shocked when I first when in and I throughly recommend everyone to do it when they get the opportunity.

Some very wise words where said in the video and I don’t think they where highlighted enough.

You know you’re safe because you’ve made eye contact and he has seen you

Whilst it’s not strictly true that eye contact makes you safe, I always think it’s a good idea to do. A. your body movement to look behind should be eye catching to the driver. B. If you can see the driver then you know you are not in his blind spot!

Avoid at all costs going up the side of a HGV at lights

As the driver went on, he mentioned on approach to the lights as well. This is important, when filtering you need to be careful and doing so when there is no escape route or time for you to get in front then it can be a recipe for disaster. Remember that getting to the front should not be your goal when approaching red lights, keeping safe and visible to other road users should be. And that means not filtering up the side of HGV’s

The more room a lorry has left you, the more likely it is going to turn left. The more tempting it looks, the more dangerous it is.

A fantastic comment that could easily be missed. Reading the road is a very valuable tool, and seeing that space on the side of a vehicle of such a size being so big should be a big indicator that it is going to attempt to turn at the junction. Remember we must engage our brains whilst cycling and try to read every situation as we approach it. If the possibilities of a vehicle turning left are high, then stay back, stay safe!

As the pair summarise, it’s team work that we need. Both parties need to be a bit clearer with what they are doing and don’t be so brash to pass each other when approaching a junction.

Boris’ standard statistic

November 15, 2013 — 5 Comments

I was watching BBC News yesterday morning, and Boris Johnson was on speaking about the 5 cycling deaths we have had on London’s roads in only 9 days!

He pulled out his standard statistic which goes something like this

Year on year cycle deaths are down. Cycling numbers are also up, which means it is better.

This isn’t a case of being better, it doesn’t matter if it’s gone done and it certainly doesn’t matter if numbers are up.

The point is that people are dying on our streets. Dying on their way to work. dying on their way home.

These people are dying and nothing is being done!

Our streets are built on 1960′s philosophy of car is king, everyone uses them to get everywhere.

That isn’t the case, our roads need to be re-designed to suit the needs of everyone that travels on them. To keep everyone safe and to allow all road users to get to their destination without fearing their life when they get to a certain junction.

I was at the vigil the other day for Venera Minakhmetova. The LCC where going to attempt to have 2 minutes silence for those that had recently died. Unfortunately the motorists we where preventing from continuing their journeys didn’t appreciate it and leant on their horns, this ruined the silence. Of course, these motorists only days before probably took 2 minutes out of their day to remember our fallen war heroes. But as soon as they get behind the wheel, seem to become different people and forget about others.

Boris needs to up his game, things have got to change, yes it will cost money, yes it will change how some people use our roads but we need to build a sustainable city for everyone to use what ever mode of transport they use. Other cities around the world are host to many cyclists and easily get through the year with zero cycling fatalities, why can’t London be the same?

Yesterday evening saw the family of Neil Turner, the cyclist who lost his life in Mitcham Road earlier this month, witness the placing of a Ghost Bike in his memory. A dozen or so cyclists also turned up to witness the event, those who regularly travel on the road or actively campaign for safer roads for cyclists in the area.

It was great to see so many cyclists turn up for someone they had never met but could relate to him, his family certainly appreciated so many of us coming. His mother said a few words, moving words about him and his family.

I must admit I found the whole thing emotional, after all I fractured my clavicle only a year ago on the same road.

Olympic Lanes have been popping up all over London, the aim is for them to get Olympic officials and athletes across London in a timely fashion. To do this they have taken away road space from other road users and created lanes which only Olympic vehicles can use.

TFL are advising people to avoid using the roads in London throughout the Olympics due to the expected congestion.

We can somehow take away road space for these olympic lanes but we can’t take away road space for cycle lanes. As was pointed out on As Easy As Riding A Bike, the physical constraints of London’s roads are few and far between.

I was confused by the actions of Boris Johnson in early 2011 when he completed removed a huge section of the congestion charge zone. I would have thought the sensible action would be to increase it, to dissuade people from using private 4 wheeled vehicles in the capital.

If we make driving in London undesirable by making it slow, have less space and expensive. Then we can improve the quality of London for everyone. There will be less traffic, less pollution and fewer people injured. However I fear it is not going to be that simple, this sort of change will require a huge overhaul in the thinking of TFL and Londoners.

Yesterday morning at around 5am. A cyclist was involved in a RTC with a car on the A236 Mitcham Road. The man was pronounced dead at the scene by the air ambulance doctor. Rest In Peace!

For those of you that don’t know Croydon and Mitcham Road, it has been the talking point of many cycling campaigners. Nearly a mile of cycle lane in the door zone in either direction. Parked cars on either side of this very busy arterial road and plenty of pinch points that do absolutely nothing!

I contacted Croydon Council about this road in January. I highlighted the issue with the door zone, the debris in the cycle lane and the pinch points that do not prevent people from speeding. The response regarding Mitcham road is as follows

Most of the cycle lanes in Mitcham Road meet the recommended minimum standard width of 1.5 metres, however there is insufficient carriageway space available to increase the clearance from parked vehicles. This is why the lanes have been made highly visible with green surfacing used for the majority of the length, which should help to remind motorists that they should take care of cyclists using the route.

Some physical changes can be made as the resources become available; changing awareness and habits in respect of cyclists and motorcyclists is a longer term issue.

I did push further and got this response

I visited again this road on Monday morning with my traffic engineer and we have established two courses of actions.

Firstly as these lanes were initially implemented as part of the London Cycle Network Budget and Project, about five years ago, it is long overdue for a review. On measuring the width of the cycle lanes we found that some of the lanes could be widened. We aim to implement a review with a view to extend the cycle lane widths to give greater space for cyclists.

Secondly there is a view to create a parallel route for the Mitcham road on quiet residential roads via  Ockley rd and Rochford way and Westcombe avenue, from just beyond the Lombard roundabout for cyclists who would feel less confident in using the Mitcham road.

The green paint mentioned in the first response has all but faded and is only the width of a car door! So this cycle lane is extremely dangerous to use, especially during the early hours of the morning when people are going to work and taking their kids to school.

Door Zone on Mitcham Road

The insufficient width they talk about is down to parking that is allowed on the road. The A236 is the only arterial road I can think of in Croydon that allows residential parking like this.

Parking on the A236

I was spurred on to contact the council about this stretch of road after my own RTC in which I broke my clavicle. At the same time I also queried what was being done with the £450,500 that was given to Croydon by the Mayor after being named a Cycling Borough. Unfortunately those funds where already being spent elsewhere (a cycling hub at East Croydon station) and could not be used to drastically improve one of the worst cycle lanes in Croydon.