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The _Observer_ on "deadly" bike lanes



 
 
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  #1  
Old May 23rd 04, 08:35 PM
bikerider7
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Default The _Observer_ on "deadly" bike lanes

[Note: I have not been on Blackfriars bridge, and the article seems
quite
vague on the "problem" with this particular cycle lane....]

Scandal of our deadly cycle lanes

The dangerous road layout that has claimed one life in London is now
being promoted across the country as a model of good design

Mark Townsend
Sunday May 23, 2004
The Observer

Vicki McCreery had predicted the journey home might kill her. Days
before she was crushed by a five-ton bus, she had told friends a new
cycle lane over Blackfriars bridge in London would claim lives.
As hundreds of people gathered for her funeral in north London
yesterday, relatives demanded to know why a lane meant to protect
cyclists from other road users had cost the 37-year-old
physiotherapist her life.

The lane had been in place barely two weeks before she died almost
instantly following a rush-hour collision near the crest of the
bridge. Safety campaigners are stunned that permission was granted for
a narrow cycle lane sandwiched between two fast-moving carriageways
and one of London's busiest bus routes. Worse still, a steady convoy
of buses is allowed to veer across the thin path reserved for
cyclists.

As McCreery forecast, a fatality was inevitable. Her death has already
become emblematic for groups which claim the tragedy exposes the
hypocrisy behind government initiatives to raise the number of
cyclists. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has promised a 200 per
cent increase by 2010, a figure already dismissed as too ambitious.
Failure to convert more people to two wheels is blamed largely on the
introduction of lanes similar to that on which McCreery died.

Those cyclists courageous enough to use Blackfriars bridge admit to
shuddering as they reach its northbound approaches. As McCreery would
have done in her final moments, they talk of feeling intensely exposed
as dense commuter traffic flashes by on their right while buses
undercut them on their left.

'She felt intimidated by the new crossing. She was extremely concerned
about her safety, but it was the only route she could cycle home,'
said a friend.

Despite the design's obvious risks, it has emerged that the layout at
Blackfriars is encouraged by the government - recommended as a best
practice design in traffic advisory leaflets distributed to local
councils.

Road safety groups claim similar layouts, described as 'death traps'
by users, are being rolled out across Britain. Near-identical replicas
of the design can be found from Bristol to Brighton. Residents near
each site are amazed that tragic accidents have not happened yet.

Their warnings of more deaths may prove fruitless. More than 14 months
ago safety campaigners warned Transport for London that changes to the
Blackfriars cycle lane could prove dangerous and might not solve the
route's inherent danger.

They cited the case of grandfather Kim Thi, who died 15 months ago
after being struck by a motorbike at almost the exact point where a
bunch of tulips now marks the place where Vicki McCreery died.

Shortly before her death, she had seen a fellow cyclist knocked off
her bike by a bus. McCreery, the senior physiotherapist at St Thomas'
Hospital, south London, offered to be a witness for the shaken but
fortunate fellow cyclist.

In other European countries similar collisions are unlikely. Denmark
and Holland are among those offering cyclists segregated tracks. High
kerbs and special filter lanes ensure traffic cannot get near them.

Failure to mimic such designs partly explains, say road safety groups,
why UK cyclists are 10 times more likely to be killed or injured than
those in Denmark. Danish cyclists would find it astonishing that UK
law still allows motorists to drive on to many cycle lanes. They too
might question the continued practice of squeezing such lanes on to
busy roads that can barely accommodate two lines of traffic.

Such practices, maintain experts, help explain the stream of
casualties among British cyclists. This month at least seven have been
killed after being struck by traffic. Most stood no chance.

The toll is relentless: every two and a half days a cyclist is killed.
During the same period 115 are injured. Latest figures reveal that 141
cyclists are killed each year. More than 17,000 are injured.

How many of these accident happen in cycle lanes is unclear: the
government does not collate such figures. Nor does it have a central
database on cycle lane designs which have been condemned as dangerous.

Roger Geffen, campaigns manager at the national cycling body, the
Cyclists' Touring Club, said a cultural shift was needed so that local
authorities considered cycle lanes more carefully. They had 'been left
to the most junior planning officers, and we need better guidance on
dealing with major junctions.'

Tony Russell, who advises councils on safer cycle lanes for the club,
said: 'There are situations where designs put the cyclist in a more
dangerous position. Most accidents, though, are caused by motorists
not being careful.'

McCreery's husband, Sandy, knows all too well the risks posed by
errant drivers. He runs Middlesex University's MA course in spatial
culture and has studied city centre traffic dangers. In an eerily
prescient passage he once wrote: 'Allowing hard, heavy speeding
vehicles to come into contact with fleshy mortals is a recipe for
disaster.'

This week he will take his wife's ashes to her native Australia. On
his return, he plans to visit Blackfriars bridge for the first time
since Vicki died. They married just over a year ago and had talked of
starting a family.

Meanwhile, experts from Transport for London will go on investigating
whether the new layout, initially verified in an independent safety
audit, needs updating.
Ads
  #2  
Old May 23rd 04, 08:46 PM
Nathaniel Porter
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Default The _Observer_ on "deadly" bike lanes

I find it worrying that the article suggests segregation is the solution.
Dedicated cycleways have their place, but we must never lose sight of the
fact that all vehicles (regardless of their means of propultion) have equal
rights to use the road.


  #3  
Old May 23rd 04, 09:43 PM
MSeries
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Default The _Observer_ on "deadly" bike lanes

Nathaniel Porter wrote:
I find it worrying that the article suggests segregation is the
solution. Dedicated cycleways have their place, but we must never
lose sight of the fact that all vehicles (regardless of their means
of propultion) have equal rights to use the road.


Thing is in Denmark when a cycle lane is provided, they MUST be used and you
don't have the right to ride on the road.


  #4  
Old May 23rd 04, 09:48 PM
Nathaniel Porter
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Default The _Observer_ on "deadly" bike lanes


"MSeries" wrote in message
...
Nathaniel Porter wrote:
I find it worrying that the article suggests segregation is the
solution. Dedicated cycleways have their place, but we must never
lose sight of the fact that all vehicles (regardless of their means
of propultion) have equal rights to use the road.


Thing is in Denmark when a cycle lane is provided, they MUST be used and

you
don't have the right to ride on the road.


Which is wrong IMHO.

IIRC Ireland has similar rules.


  #5  
Old May 23rd 04, 09:51 PM
John Mallard
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Default The _Observer_ on "deadly" bike lanes

MSeries wrote:
Nathaniel Porter wrote:
I find it worrying that the article suggests segregation is the
solution. Dedicated cycleways have their place, but we must never
lose sight of the fact that all vehicles (regardless of their means
of propultion) have equal rights to use the road.


Thing is in Denmark when a cycle lane is provided, they MUST be used
and you don't have the right to ride on the road.


This has always been my greatest fear. That one day the buggers will
realise that they only need to spend a bit more money on cycle farcilities
and then vote us off the road altogether.

--
Cheerful Pedalling
John Mallard


  #6  
Old May 23rd 04, 11:07 PM
Tumbleweed
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Default The _Observer_ on "deadly" bike lanes


"bikerider7" wrote in message
om...
[Note: I have not been on Blackfriars bridge, and the article seems
quite
vague on the "problem" with this particular cycle lane....]

Scandal of our deadly cycle lanes

The dangerous road layout that has claimed one life in London is now
being promoted across the country as a model of good design

Mark Townsend
Sunday May 23, 2004
The Observer

Vicki McCreery had predicted the journey home might kill her. Days
before she was crushed by a five-ton bus, she had told friends a new
cycle lane over Blackfriars bridge in London would claim lives.
As hundreds of people gathered for her funeral in north London
yesterday, relatives demanded to know why a lane meant to protect
cyclists from other road users had cost the 37-year-old
physiotherapist her life.

The lane had been in place barely two weeks before she died almost
instantly following a rush-hour collision near the crest of the
bridge. Safety campaigners are stunned that permission was granted for
a narrow cycle lane sandwiched between two fast-moving carriageways
and one of London's busiest bus routes. Worse still, a steady convoy
of buses is allowed to veer across the thin path reserved for
cyclists.

As McCreery forecast, a fatality was inevitable. Her death has already
become emblematic for groups which claim the tragedy exposes the
hypocrisy behind government initiatives to raise the number of
cyclists. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has promised a 200 per
cent increase by 2010, a figure already dismissed as too ambitious.
Failure to convert more people to two wheels is blamed largely on the
introduction of lanes similar to that on which McCreery died.

Those cyclists courageous enough to use Blackfriars bridge admit to
shuddering as they reach its northbound approaches. As McCreery would
have done in her final moments, they talk of feeling intensely exposed
as dense commuter traffic flashes by on their right while buses
undercut them on their left.

'She felt intimidated by the new crossing. She was extremely concerned
about her safety, but it was the only route she could cycle home,'
said a friend.


One must also take responsibility for ones own safety. If there was a
section of road that you believe was dangerous, why not get off before it
and walk past that bit? Surely its madness to cycle on a bit of road you
believe to be dangerous, just because someone painted the words 'cycle lane'
on it?
--
Tumbleweed

Remove my socks for email address


  #7  
Old May 23rd 04, 11:52 PM
Velvet
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Default The _Observer_ on "deadly" bike lanes

Tumbleweed wrote:




One must also take responsibility for ones own safety. If there was a
section of road that you believe was dangerous, why not get off before it
and walk past that bit? Surely its madness to cycle on a bit of road you
believe to be dangerous, just because someone painted the words 'cycle lane'
on it?


I've cycled this, though well out of rush hour (mid-afternoon on a
saturday of a bank holiday weekend, so probably about as non-busy as you
can get). I was conscious of being very vulnerable between two lanes -
cycling over the bridge with a lane each side made it feel quite
precarious. I know the bridge (and it's traffic) well, since I drove
in/around london very frequently as an engineer (and will likely do so
again shortly) - where I would assume from the conditions when I cycled
it to be fairly innocuous and reasonably safe, I had mental images of
what it's REALLY like in normal traffic as I cycled over it, and they
were none too pleasant, and downright scary!

I also had to deal with a bus that I followed through the junction on
the south side heading north, which stopped in it's bus stop to the left
of the cycle lane, while I caught up and cycled past.

I found that quite concerning, and initially I hung back while I made
sure it was probably going to stay put till I was past it, then cycled
past as fast as I could to get in front (and thus hopefully within the
driver's field of view).

Also, I found being quite slow on the initially stage where you climb to
the top of the bridge makes things worse. The cycle lane is quite wide
(as cycle lanes go) but being a solitary cyclist with so much
car/bus/van space around you feels unsafe. I spent a lot of time
looking in my mirror/around me as I crossed the bridge, expecting at any
moment to have to deal with idiot drivers of larger vehicles cutting
across my path. I was surprised when this didn't happen. I think I'd
have to seriously evaluate if there's a better way to cross the bridge
if I ever cycled it again - whether that's staying in the far left lane
until you get to the far side of the bridge before moving right to avoid
going down the slip road, or dismount and cross as a pedestrian, I don't
know... as I said, more investigation would be needed.

On the other hand, there's not really any excuse for not being aware of
what's around you on a multi-lane road like that, especially since it's
very common in london to have cars/buses/taxi's cutting other
cars/buses/taxi's up - the bus really shouldn't have pulled across the
cycle lane without looking (and seeing) a cyclist.

I have to say, if I was as concerned as she seemed to be, I'd have been
on foot - it's quite common for me to revert to pedestrianing around
junctions that I don't feel safe cycling, but I can understand the
resentment that would lead to not wanting to be forced to be a slow
bike-pushing pedestrian by a bad cycle lane.

--


Velvet
  #8  
Old May 24th 04, 01:05 AM
Patrick Herring
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Default The _Observer_ on "deadly" bike lanes

"John Mallard" [email protected] wrote:

| MSeries wrote:
| Nathaniel Porter wrote:
| I find it worrying that the article suggests segregation is the
| solution. Dedicated cycleways have their place, but we must never
| lose sight of the fact that all vehicles (regardless of their means
| of propultion) have equal rights to use the road.
|
| Thing is in Denmark when a cycle lane is provided, they MUST be used
| and you don't have the right to ride on the road.

Also in Holland IIRC.

| This has always been my greatest fear. That one day the buggers will
| realise that they only need to spend a bit more money on cycle farcilities
| and then vote us off the road altogether.

But why - if the road has no attached cycle way you could go on the
road, if it does it'll be better than the road (for security anyway).
I suppose you might say that drivers will get used to not having to
think about cyclists so will be worse when they have to share, but
separate lanes will get many more cycling and we just might end up
like Holland and Denmark.

--
Patrick Herring, Sheffield, UK
http://www.anweald.co.uk
  #9  
Old May 24th 04, 06:26 AM
Mark Thompson
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Default The _Observer_ on "deadly" bike lanes

| This has always been my greatest fear. That one day the buggers will
| realise that they only need to spend a bit more money on cycle
| farcilities and then vote us off the road altogether.

But why - if the road has no attached cycle way you could go on the
road, if it does it'll be better than the road (for security anyway).
I suppose you might say that drivers will get used to not having to
think about cyclists so will be worse when they have to share, but
separate lanes will get many more cycling and we just might end up
like Holland and Denmark.


It's 'cos impatient/late buggers like me like to get there at more than
12mph. On my (v. short) commute I try and keep my speed at 20mph. There's
no way I could do that on most cycle paths and it would be the height of
stupidity to do it on a shared use footpath, even if it was deserted enough
to be possible.

Added to the reduction in speed negotiating junctions would be more time
consuming. On the road I can just do a left turn, right turn or go
straight ahead at speed (if nothing coming). On a cyclepath I'd have to
slow down a lot/stop to let traffic past and check it was clear when I
could just sail past with right of way on the road.

I don't find the roads unsafe and do find many cycle lanes off the road too
slow to bother with. Trundlies may have a different view I s'pose.
  #10  
Old May 24th 04, 07:29 AM
Tony Raven
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Default The _Observer_ on "deadly" bike lanes

Patrick Herring wrote:

But why - if the road has no attached cycle way you could go on the
road, if it does it'll be better than the road (for security anyway).
I suppose you might say that drivers will get used to not having to
think about cyclists so will be worse when they have to share, but
separate lanes will get many more cycling and we just might end up
like Holland and Denmark.



Bach, Rosbach, Joergensen. Vejdirekforatet, Denmark, 1988

Traffic safety of cycle tracks in Danish cities.
Before and after study of 105 new cycle paths in Denmark, introduced 1978-81,
totalling 64km. Cyclist casualties increased 48% following introduction of
paths.

Wegman, Dijkstra. SWOV, Netherlands, 1992.
Originally presented to Roads and Traffic 2000 conference, Berlin, 1988;
Revised version included in Still more bikes behind the dikes, CROW, 1992.

In built-up areas cycle tracks 25% safer than unsegregated road between
junctions, but 32% more dangerous at junctions. Cycle lanes 36% more dangerous
between junctions, 19% safer at junctions. Seriousness of accidents greater if
tracks or lanes present compared with no facilities. Cycle lanes narrower than
1.8m particularly hazardous.
Outside towns, cycle track safety depends on car and cycle numbers.
New cross-town routes in Den Haag and Tilburg had produced no safety gain and
had not encouraged much new cycling.

Tony






 




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