Cycling Fatality on Mitcham Road

July 11, 2012 — 30 Comments

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.

Gaz

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Gaz is one of the well known cyclists in a growing community of those using cameras. With over 30,000 Youtube subscribers and more than 6,000,000 online video views, his channels and videos are among some of the most popular of their kind. Gaz has spoken on Radio, TV and in national cycling campaigns about the use of cameras and the power of videos.

30 responses to Cycling Fatality on Mitcham Road

  1. Very sad. Completely useless and dangerous cycling “facilities”.

    BTW, end of the first paragraph – I really hope you meant “rest in peace”

  2. Your basic problem is that the traffic is going too fast. More needs to be done to slow the traffic down a bit. Narrowing the traffic lanes, building out at side road junctions, raised crossings at side road junctions, pedestrian crossings, trees, traffic islands which don’t squeeze the traffic lanes, removing the centre line – all of these would help.

    The parking bays should be 2.3m (ie the standard 1.8m plus 0.5m buffer zone), and the traffic lanes should be a maximum of 3m (preferably 2.8m). The cycle lanes could be slightly narrower if necessary – the buffer zone is more important.

    • On this road, definitely! There is a school right next to where the RTC happened, during the morning and afternoon there are plenty of kids about.
      It’s funny how they removed the speed camera on this road several years ago.

      There are pinch points along this road at present but only one of them is narrow enough so that cyclists and motorists can’t co-exist ‘safely’ (I suspect the RTC was near to this from what I saw).

      Any improvement to this road is welcome, unfortunately it seems that the council don’t want to spend any money on it.

  3. What’s with all the street parking? That photo showing the mini with the door open, the houses seem to have driveways… could not the street parking area be used for a buffered cycle lane?

    • That photo was taken at a slightly different point in the road, where it is a bit wider.
      Further down not all the houses have space for driveways.

  4. The parking looks under-used, too.

    I would suggest that in the short tem they only allow parking on one side of the road (alternating sides every couple of 100m) and use the space to widen the cycle lanes and create a car door buffer zone…

    • I think it depends on the time of day you go down there. In the morning and evening when I travel down it, it is just car after car after car.
      You suggestion is a good one!

  5. Also, the parallel route as an alternative to making the existing route safe is a bad idea. It’s just an unnecessary detour. And this is a safety issue, not a cyclist confidence issue. Being confident doesn’t stop you getting car doored.

    • Exactly. I couldn’t believe it when I was told about the potential for that detour. I suspect many people wouldn’t use it.

  6. If you are going to push them to remove parking, I would think this through carefully.

    On-street parking is a fundamental component of street design, when well designed it can lower vehicle speeds by increasing driver caution, visually narrowing the carriageway and reducing forward visibility. Further benefits include providing a buffer between the vehicular carriageway and footpath (encouraging walking) and reducing the need or temptation by drivers to kerb mount and block footpaths/cycle tracks due to lack of parking.

    The later is a very important point in regard to cycling. Whilst some residents have driveways not all do. Furthermore if parking is removed where will visitors park? If residents and visitor have nowhere close by to park, they may park in the cycling lane, exposing cyclists to greater danger as they try to get by? This is of course an issue of enforcement, but the authorities cannot be there 24/7. Removing resident parking is also unlikely to get much political support.

    I would take a course of action that is similar to Richard’s suggestion and look at the total street reserve and how space may be better allocated for all users.

    Good luck.

  7. I didn’t think this was an aerial [sic] road! 😉
    Aerial roads might solve much congestion…

  8. One can find plenty of residential streets over in The Netherlands, the same width as Mitcham Road (I was born and bred in Croydon although live in Dorset now), that allows parking, plus two way traffic yet have a totally segregated two way cycle path one side of the road.

    This could quite easily be done in Mitcham Road and other roads just like it if they would only spend the blasted money on doing it. There is no excuse. More money, and better planning needs to added to the mix.

    Perhaps you should send Croydon council a few photos of a Dutch wide residential street and show them how the experts do it.

  9. Interesting commentary, Gaz.

    I cycle along the Mitcham Road on my daily commute between Croydon and Roehampton. I find the last 2 miles from the end of Mitcham Common to the toucan crossing on the Roman Way to be the most unpleasant of the lot.

    To avoid the worst of it, in the morning I use the Purley Way, Waddon Marsh Way, Ampere Way, cross at Therapia Lane tramstop and use Alfriston Avenue and Rochford Way. In the evening, I just put up with the A236 and all the crap that comes with it.

    There is a risk of being doored, I grant you but I haven’t seen or experienced it myself. For me the junctions along Mitcham Road are more hazardous, with aggressive / impatient drivers either edging out of side roads or rushing to get into them. According to the Levenes cycle injury map at http://www.cycleinjury.co.uk/map/?s=Therapia+Lane there have been a number of “accidents” involving cyclists along this stretch resulting in “slight injuries”, but I have no further details. Is your broken clavicle so recorded?

    And just out of interest, who is the Council person you’ve been dealing with on this?

    Thanks,

    Austen

    • I thought about taking exactly the same route down the back roads. Does it work well?
      I’ve had a few experiences of doors being opened in front of me, I will ride out of the door zone on this road (which means riding outside of the cycle lane), I get some stick for it but I put up with it.

      Re the map. The data on that one isn’t quite up to date, so it doesn’t have mine on it.

      I don’t have the information about who it is I have been in touch with to hand, I will dig it up later.
      I’m looking to contact a few councilors about this issue and try to push things forward, if we can get one road changed it will make a huge difference to pushing forward with other roads.

      • The alternative route works reasonably well.

        The Purley Way is surprisingly quiet around about 8:15, although it’s not exactly cycle-friendly – I got knocked off my bike at the junction with PC World a few weeks ago! No witnesses, no CCTV, the driver didn’t stop, no damage to the bike and no apparent damage to me at the time (since been diagnosed with whiplash).

        The Waddon Marsh Way involves a bit of pavement riding and bumping back onto the road.

        Ampere Way is fairly quiet and I’ve only had one interaction with a driver who beeped me for riding further out than they thought necessary.

        It’s no bother cutting across the tracks at Therapia Lane tramstop, and if you’re skilled in riding and using your brakes, you can do it without getting off.

        From there to Mitcham Road is fairly problem free, and has the advantage of getting you ahead of all the traffic heading towards the school, and all the parked cars along that stretch between the Common and the Lombard Roundabout.

  10. This is a very sad situation. I work on Mitcham Road and the accident was pretty much outside my workplace. They still had the forensics tent up yesterday morning at 9.30, despite the accident taking place I believe after 5am. It shook me up as my partner is a keen cyclist. I am a car driver and I have to agree that Mitcham Road is awful at the best of times, so I can not even imagine what it must be like to cycle down it. I have had many a near miss with other car drivers pulling out of junctions or parking spaces, sometimes at speed and without looking. Hoping Croydon Council will have the kick now it needs to do something about it and this poor man’s untimely end will at least improve the situation for other drivers and road users. My thoughts and condolences to his family at this time.

  11. Read about this over on Cyclists in the City, it’s terrible when something like this happens on a route you use regularly.
    As others have said it’s not the most pleasant of roads to ride down and certainly requires a level of confidence and speed that makes it inaccessible to all but the very keen. I’ve had a few close calls with car doors being opened on the cycle lane (although none came out too well on the camera)

  12. How I would design this road:

    From left to right:
    Pavement, cycle lane, bay parking, 2-way road, cycle lane, parking

    Replacing 2x parallel parking with 1x bay parking loses no parking spaces while eliminating the door zone.

    Putting the cycle lane on the other side of the bay parking eliminates danger from fast moving vehicles in one direction.

  13. ack need an edit button.

    that should have been:
    Pavement, cycle lane, bay parking, 2-way road, cycle lane, pavement

  14. Have you checked these out?

    Comparing British Roads with Dutch Equivalent

    3rd and 4th set down are about the same width as Mitcham Road. If I remember rightly Mitcham Road has very wide pavements that are totally unnecessary to be that wide. Some of that width could be stolen on both sides to help make Dutch style segregation.

    And no one can tell me that Croydon Council can’t afford it. They were one of the riches boroughs when I lived there. And I bet they still are.

    • Yeah I looked at those when writing this, I thought David had done a bit on Mitcham road but apparently not.

      Depends on which point of mitcham road regarding the width of the pavements. Some of it is not wide.

      Croydon Council has spent a load of money on a new head office and millions each year on consultants. Money down the drain!

  15. http://croydoncyclists.org.uk/how-mitcham-road-could-look/

    That’s what I’m trying to describe, easier to visualise though I think

    • Looks good. eliminates pretty much all the dangers.

    • That’s exactly how I could see it.

      And Gaz, I haven’t lived in Croydon now since ’87 I think it was, and even then they were wasting money hand over fist. Croydon was such a beautiful town when I was growing up there until I got into my twenties and it all started to change so dramatically . I watched your video a while back on the cycle path you have there now on Gravel Hill. My goodness that hill is a heck of a hill to cycle up. I was out of breath just watching you, lol.

      Btw, I went to Gilbert Scots which you would have passed the back of when going up Gravel Hill. We used to, as kids, go hunting for adders in the long grass that used to be at the back of the school. Boy would we have been in trouble if we had got caught.

      Brought back a few memories watching that video of yours.

  16. charles nighbor architect July 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    this is wrong,”Mitcham Road killer cycle lane – Courtesy CycleGaz
    This bike lane should be INSIDE the parked cars,
    not the other way round, inside the ‘door zone’ ” In USA bike lanes are on road side of car

    Charles Nighbor USA

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