After the deaths of 14 cyclists so far this month, Labour MP Ian Austin has called for a national audit of the UK’s most dangerous junctions and of London’s Cycle Superhighways.
Mr Austin told told Sky News: “We need to see an urgent review of the most dangerous junctions across the country and we need to see a proper audit of how the Cycle Superhighway scheme here in London is operating.”
At least 12 of the deaths this month involved a motor vehicle. All six of the fatalities in London occurred at junctions and involved a large vehicle, either a bus, coach or lorry.
The Metropolitan Police has recently been running ‘Changing Places’ exercises in which cyclists are invited to sit in the cab of a heavy good vehicle and discover just how little of the road they can see.
Sgt Simon Castle of the Met’s Cycling Task Force said: “What we’re telling cyclists is to either stay right back behind the truck, or to move far enough forward that they can make eye contact with the driver. Either of those tactics makes you a lot more visible and a lot safer on London’s roads.”
Ian Austin’s call for a junction audit comes as the Metropolitan Police yesterday issued 150 fixed penalty notices to drivers and cyclists on the first day of Operation Safeway.
Police said the fines issued were mainly for using a mobile phone while driving or passing through a red light.
In addition, police were stopping cyclists to offer advice on safety. Independent journalist Simon Usborne was one of those stopped, because he wasn’t wearing a helmet.
“How do you think you’ll fare if you get run over like this?” one officer asked. No “good morning, we’re here as part of the campaign to improve road safety and wondered if you had two minutes.” More like: “you’ll probably die, but first stand here looking guilty while I have a go at you for doing nothing illegal.”
People stopped at Hyde Park Corner after the morning rush hour yesterday appeared exclusively to be cyclists, none of whom had breached the highway code.
I told the officer stopping me that only logistics had left me bare-headed. I always wear a helmet, although it’s not the law to do so. He then took issue with my clothes. Not visible enough,” he said. I pointed at the bright sun, suggesting it lent me adequate visibility, thanked him for his advice, and cycled on.
The crackdown on dangerous road behaviour involved 650 officers in 60 locations across London and will eventually expand to encompass all 2,500 of London’s traffic police.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.