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Black day for cycling in London

Yet another fatality in Southwark

The on-going danger posed to London's cyclists by lorries has been tragically illustrated by news of a rider's death in the capital. While and other media   initially reported that two cyclists had died under the wheels of HGVs in separate incidents within a few hours of each other and just miles apart it later transpired that one victim was a pedestrian. 

The cyclist's death took place at lunchtime when the rider, believed to be a foreign national, was in collision with a skip lorry at the junction of Tanner Street and Tooley Street in Bermondsey.

The Evening Standard reported that both the cyclist, who was male and aged 20, and the lorry were heading in the same direction, although police said that they have been unable as yet to ascertain the exact facts behind the accident. Police arrested the lorry driver and took him away to be questioned.

The cyclist, who according to witnesses suffered serious head wounds, was taken to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, where he was pronounced dead.

That accident took place just a few hundred yards from the locations where two cyclists – university professor David Vilaseca and medical student Haris Ahmed – were killed early last year.

It is the latest instance of a cyclist being killed by an HGV in Southwark, which for whatever reason seems to attract a large number of fatal accidents to bike riders, particularly in the Bermondsey area.

Two possible reasons for that might be the amount of construction works in the area for projects such as The Shard, and the presence of a massive waste incinerator sandwiched between the railway lines and Millwall FC’s New Den Stadium, with few routes in or out of the site.

Roads running under the viaduct carrying railway lines away from London Bridge station are also used as short cuts by HGVs.

The incident took place just down the road from London’s City Hall, the most powerful occupant of which, Mayor Boris Johnson, came under criticism in October 2009 after deciding to withdraw Transport for London funding from the Metropolitan Police’s Commercial Vehicle Education Unit (CVEU),. The unit inspected lorries in the capital, insisting that the voluntary Freight Operators’ Registration Scheme (FORS) provided an adequate safeguard.

While the CVEU has been reconstituted by the Met as the Commercial Vehicle Unit, operating out of Alperton in North West London, it does not have the same scale of resources or manpower as it used to do.

Critics of the FORS have pointed out that since it is a voluntary scheme, by its very nature it will fail to cover the less scrupulous operators who it is believed account for a disproportionate number of incidents involving HGVs in London.

Anyone with information regarding the accident is asked to contact police there on 020 8285 1574 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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WolfieSmith | 12 years ago

A skip lorry. Very predictable. Everytime I'm out and hear behind me the clanging of a empty skip lorry being driven at speed by an angry man I pray..

OldRidgeback | 12 years ago

It's sad to hear of yet more fatalities in London, whether of cyclists or pedestrians. The junction at Lambeth Town Hall is a complex one but the crossings are reasonably well laid out. However it is a very busy junction and not all drivers, or pedestrains, observe the rules. It remains to be seen what was the cause of this fatality.

As regards the Southwark incident, I believe it is no coincidence that the vehicle involved was a skip lorry. I've commented previously on this website regarding the particular risks involved to other road users posed by this type of vehicle. To what degree driver error played a role in this fatality will become clear in due course.

duncr | 12 years ago

I work on Tooley Street and the corner where the cyclist was killed is notorious for HGVs flying round the corner. The problem is cyclists heading west into town have to cross the traffic from the inside to get onto the cycle path that goes the wrong way up Tooley Street. Lorries use this route off Jamaica Rd to get into Tower Bridge Road and go across Tower Bridge and of course head to the Shard site near London Bridge. RIP cyclists

thereverent | 12 years ago

Sad news.

The Evening Standard seems to now report the first victim was a pedestrian rather than a cyclist.
The location of the second looks like Tooley Street/Jamaica Road. That part of the road is narrowed by a traffic island and has railing on the left hand side, so no escape route if anything happens.
I wish TfL and London concils would get a move on with removing more railing as they are so dangerous.

LondonCalling | 12 years ago

According to a tweet from TomSEdwards (Transport correspondent, BBC London), the first incident in Lambeth was not a cyclist.

timlennon | 12 years ago

It's really hard to say to friends "It's Ok to cycle in London, really: it's quite safe!" when we keep seeing stories like this.

God knows some cyclists don't help themselves with the way they choose to cycle (and I stress I have no additional information about how these two incidents have happened), but even so, the vulnerability of anyone walking or on two wheels to one of these huge vehicles is just terrifying.

I hope this will galvanise some action on the part of Tfl and Boris, but I'm sorry to say I'm not holding my breath.

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