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Mayor comes under intense pressure to act after Bow roundabout deaths

Widow and politicians call for action – LCC ask Londoners to email Mayor to Make Bow Safe

Following the death of a second cyclist at the Bow Roundabout on Friday evening the London Cycling Campaign is calling on Londoners to email the mayor to demand changes be made to the junction as part of it's new Make Bow Safe campaign.

The London Cycling Campaign Chief executive Ashok Sinha said "Two cyclist deaths at Bow roundabout in three weeks is unacceptable in a civilised city.
"London's cyclists are demanding that this terrible junction on the Mayor's Cycle Superhighway 2 is redesigned before there are more tragic deaths."

On Friday evening a 34 year-old woman so far identified as a Ukrainian national called Lana became the second cyclist to die in less than three weeks at the roundabout - both riders were killed in collisions with tipper trucks. Bow roundabout is at the eastern end of Mayor Boris Johnson's newest Barclay's Superhighway CS2 and the Mayor is coming under increasing pressure from campaigners, politicians, and the widow of Brian Dorling, the first rider to die at the junction, to act quickly to make things safer.

Debbie Dorling, whose husband Brian was killed at the Bow Roundabout on 25 October while cycling to work at the Olympic site has already written to the Mayor demanding that something be dome about the junction. On Saturday she revealed that during the reconstruction of the instant in which her husband died she witnessed three near misses involving cyclists and left turning cars at the same spot and warned traffic engineers that unless something was done another cyclist would die. Yesterday she re-affirmed that call for immediate action in an interview with the BBC, and in a moving comment on she described the design of the junction as "negligent".

Pressure on the Mayor and Transport for London to do something quickly about the Bow junction is mounting and feeding in to wider questions about the safety of the Mayor's Cycle Superhighways. At the weekend Steve Norris, the Conservative former mayoral candidate appointed to the TfL board by Boris Johnson became the latest politician to call for a review of the exsiting Superhighway network before any more are painted on to London's roads (he used the word "built").

The safety of the increasing numbers of cyclists using London's roads was already a hot topic for the Mayor, on Saturday hundreds of riders took part in the Tour du Danger ride to highlight the 10 most dangerous junctions in the capital for cyclists as identified by TfL. The twin tragedies at Bow, which didn't make the list, piles further pressure on the Mayor and TfL who stand accused of encouraging thousands more cyclists on to the roads while at the same time prioritising the free flow of motorised traffic over the safety of cyclists.

The dilemma the Mayor and his advisors are facing was illustrated yesterday by Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor's director of environment in an interview with Vannesa Feltx on BBC Radio London about cycling safety in the capital in which the normally eloquent Mr Ranger did his very best to make all the right noises while offering as few hostages to fortune in the form of concrete commitments. He did concede that the Bow Roundabout  was being looked at "specifically" and pending the outcome of the investigations by police and traffic engineers he did seem to commit to changes there "… if there’s something else we can do, we will definitely do it." A full transcript of the interview can be read here.

In Mr Ranger's performance we can perhaps see the Mayor's tactics taking shape, put simply to separate off the Bow Roundabout from the overall question of cycling safety in the capital. That said nothing was done to alter the junction or the Cycle Superhighway at Bow in the three weeks following Brian Dorling's death, nor was anything done to alter the design before it was implemented despite warnings from the LCC and other that is was inherently dangerous – hence the LCC's call to email action.

You can find out more information about  the LCC's email campaign at the Make Bow Safe page on their website where they are collating all the email responses if you prefer you can email the Mayor direct at mayor [at]'s founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.

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Matt_S | 12 years ago

Excuse my ignorance as I don't cycle out near bow, but can someone describe to me (or point me to diagrams of) the road features and circumstances behind these two accidents?

brucec replied to Matt_S | 12 years ago
A V Lowe | 12 years ago

Use Charlie lloyd's picture from viaduct widely (and Diamond Geezer's ground level view) The placing of that blue strip right in the path of left turning traffic is a first count of what might be described as criminally negligent design, compounded by the traffic island that entices/forces the cyclist to ride up to the incoming traffic flow in the most dangerous position with a 6 inch kerb blocking the option to escape a potential collision by steering right in to the centre of the roundabout.

The design runs counter to all the advice in Cyclecraft about safe positioning and observation of any experienced rider would have shown that this was not the place to ride. Charlie's photo shows exactly why the lane is wrong from the HGV driving 'through' it.

TfL should eradicate this feature with the minimum of delay, or failing that the Police should tell them to do so, failing that it must only be a matter of time before someone else acts with a load of black paint and barriers to close off the dangerous bike lane.

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