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Stop construction vehicle "slaughter" of London cyclists, says top architect

Peter Murray calls for measures to reduce "appalling" death toll to zero...

One of London's most prominent architects says the construction industry needs to take action to stop the "slaughter" of cyclists by its vehicles on London streets. The "appalling" death toll must be reduced to zero, Peter Murray, chairman of the New London Architecture forum

Murray's call comes in the aftermath of the death on April 9 of renowned designer Moira Gemmill, who died after being hit by a tipper truck near Lambeth Bridge.

He told Construction Manager: “Hopefully such a high-profile fatality like this forces people into action. It’s such a horrible situation, where growth in cycling has gone beyond the safety design of lorries operating in London.

“We need to look at this right across the board, stop blaming people and work out a solution in the real world to reduce the number of construction HGV deaths to zero.”

Ms Gemmill was the fifth cyclist to die on London's street this year. Heavy goods vehicles were involved in all five deaths, and four of those were construction vehicles.

In 2013 Murray and fellow architects Sunand Prasad and Roger Hawkins were invited by Boris Johnson to consult on the design of all the cycling infrastructure to be built as part of the planned £913 million spend over ten years.

Murray's P2P group came up with the Golding Rule, a simple graphic demonstrating how faster and more dangerous road users should yield to more vulnerable.

The Golding Rule

The Golding Rule was named for architect Francis Golding, one of six cyclists to die in London in the first two weeks of November 2013. It was suggested as part of a report that Murray and his colleagues submitted after a 4,347-mile ride from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place, London that passed through 12 major US cities to experience their cycling facilities.

Murray told Architects Journal that architects could help educate contractors about the dangers.

He said: "It is very shocking that construction is responsible for so many deaths. It behoves all those involved in the industry to make greater efforts to reduce this slaughter.

"Architects should make sure that clients and contractors are fully aware of the issues and that only lorries with properly trained drivers and the necessary safety equipment should be employed on their sites.

"The Construction Industry Cycling Commission, set up after the death of Francis Golding, is carrying out research to ascertain the reasons behind the statistics and is working with other safety organisations to reduce these appalling numbers to zero."

Director of the UK Contractors Group (UKCG) Stephen Ratcliffe told Architects Journal: "We share the concerns over the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users, particularly in relation to what the construction industry can do to eliminate the toll of death and injuries, particularly evident in London.

"Through our members, and more directly, we have been working with a variety of interested groups to improve the situation. We particularly support the standard on construction logistics and cycling safety. It covers issues including advance planning, managing the logistics of deliveries, safety equipment for vehicles, training and traffic control around sites. The standard provides a common industry framework."

Transport for London's Safer Lorry Scheme will come into force on September 1. It will require all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes that are currently exempt to be fitted with Class V and Class VI mirrors, giving the driver a better view of cyclists and pedestrians around their vehicles; and to be fitted with side guards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels in the event of a collision.

However, cycling advocates have pointed out that the scheme does nothing to change the payment-by-the-load practices that give drivers an incentive to travel through the capital as quickly as possible.

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 Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for 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 before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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