What’s being done about cyclists’ safety in London?

Over one month has passed since the death of cyclist Brian Holt on Mile End road marked the start of a gruesome fortnight which saw five more bike riders die on London’s roads.

While the issue of cycle safety in the capital was briefly catapulted to the top of the mainstream news agenda, it has inevitably fallen away just as quickly.

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We take a look at what has been said and done on the matter since.

Political discussion
There have been a series of political debates in recent weeks, including two in Parliament and a Labour Party cycle safety summit at London’s City Hall, where politicians and campaigners debated everything from lorries to lawbreakers, bike lanes to Bikeability. Nonetheless both are keen to point out that cycling is still statistically as safe as, or safer, than walking.

New lorry safety standard
A new lorry standard was introduced by the London Mayor this week to improve road safety across the capital. The Standard for Construction Logistics, months in the making, was produced with the construction industry. The London Cycling Campaign’s lorry expert, Charlie Lloyd, said though not compulsory, the Standard is the first step in creating a safety culture among HGV operators. He added it puts the onus on operators to improve safety through safer lorries and drivers, potentially opening the door for liability claims should companies not comply. Construction vehicles are still over represented in cyclist (and pedestrian) fatalities, especially in London, where they are 4% of traffic and responsible for 53% of cycling fatalities. Meanwhile recent Metropolitan Police operations found more than half of HGVs breaking safety rules.

Police enforcement
Since November 25th the Met has issued 7,500 fixed penalty notices – 4,884 to motorists and 2,555 to cyclists in a bid to improve road safety. The operation, a direct result of recent fatalities on London’s roads, has seen 600 officers simultaneously posted on London’s busiest junctions offering safety advice and enforcing the law. Typical misdemeanours were red light jumping among both cyclists and drivers, mobile phone usage or seatbelt non-compliance among motorists, and cycling without lights.

Transport for London outline commitment
The Olympics were “a walk in the park”, traffic management-wise, compared to the challenge of incorporating cycling onto London’s crowded streets, say Transport for London officials. In a London Assembly transport committee meeting at City Hall, TfL’s Garrett Emerson and Ben Plowden said they want to match the best in the world for cycling, adding TfL’s roads engineers should see for themselves how cities on the continent deliver great cycling infrastructure. London’s Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan added there is a dearth of cycling knowledge among British roads engineers, and that London will be employing “most of” those with cycling expertise to implement the mayor’s cycling vision.