Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas vigil for the deaths on London's roads

(From LCC website)

From 6pm on Tuesday 20 December 2011, cyclists, pedestrians, and friends and family of recent crash victims will gather outside King's Cross station for a Christmas vigil to remember loved ones and highlight the unacceptable death toll on the capital’s roads.

The London Cycling Campaign, RoadPeace, London Living Streets, and prominent bloggers are inviting all Londoners to join them beside one of the city's most dangerous junctions where already a cyclist has been killed this year.

The event will contrast the high levels of road danger in Greater London with the safety of Dutch cities, with cyclists in London at least twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as they are in Holland.

Campaigners are calling on the Mayor to reject his policy of putting motor traffic flow above safety.

Over 100 Londoners are killed every year in collisions on our roads, and a large proportion of these are pedestrians, as well as cyclists, motorcyclists and car occupants.

LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said, "Every few days another London family is torn apart by the violent death of a loved one, killed needlessly on the capital's streets.

"It’s hard to imagine the pain these families will feel, especially on Christmas Day when we traditionally share the love of those closest to us.

"Sixteen of the road fatalities in 2011 have been Londoners riding bikes (up from 10 last year), and this year there have been dozens of people on foot also killed.

"London cyclists have the same right to get about safely as people in Holland, so why are we more than twice as likely to be killed in collisions in our streets?"

Mark Ames of the ibikelondon blog said, "The Dutch have shown that high-quality cycle provision and child-friendly residential zones can reduce this death toll dramatically, and improve the quality of life for all city-dwellers. These designs are being adopted all over the world, but London is being left behind.”

Danny Williams of Cyclists in the City said, "People are being asked to fling themselves on bikes through multi-lane junctions where cycling is an after-thought. The safety of cyclists and pedestrians should have just as much importance as the safety of motor users on London's streets."

Campaigners are calling for the Mayor and TfL to address the most dangerous junctions in the city as a matter of urgency, and to implement continental-style streets in London to make them as safe and inviting as they are in Holland.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Cyclist who jumped a red light has compensation reduced by 80%

This morning I read about the case of Malasi v Attmed where a cyclist who jumped a red light was claiming compensation for being hit by a taxi. The driver had proceeded through a set of traffic lights when they were green, and struck a cyclist who had jumped a red light whilst coming through the junction to the driver’s left (see my rudimentary sketch below).

 Accident Sketch

A crucial fact in this case was that the driver was travelling “gloriously in excess of the speed limit," as the Judge described it, which was between 41 and 50 miles per hour when the speed limit was 30 miles per hour. Had the driver been travelling within the speed limit (or only marginally above) the likelihood is that the cyclist would have been found wholly liable for the accident. As it was, the driver was found to be 20% liable for the accident, with the cyclist taking the lion’s share of the blame.

A worrying part of the judgment is with regard to cyclist’s clothing. The Judge found that whether or not the cyclist was wearing hi-visibility clothing was immaterial in this case, as the driver had a “good perception-response time.” However, this implies that a cyclist could be found to be partially liable for an accident if they are not wearing hi-visibility clothing, if the driver has a poor response time which contributed to the accident. As wearing hi-visibility clothing is not a legal requirement, my view is that placing any blame on the cyclist is wholly unfair as it would shift the responsibility away from drivers to watch out for cyclists.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Should red-light jumping be a police priority in Central London?

Red-light jumping by cyclists has become a priority for the police in Central London. I do not condone red-light jumping, but I think making it a police priority is not proportionate. Only 6% of collisions involving cyclists (so a tiny fraction of causes of all road traffic accidents) are caused by this practice. Furthermore, the harm caused by cyclists jumping red lights is likely to be modest compared to the damage caused by other vehicles.

The prioritising of police time on to red-light jumping cyclists is partly due to the onus on the police to deal with complaints by the public, who have apparently raised this as a concern. However, if you look at this questionnaire on the City of London website, you could understand why this might be the case as it is pretty skewed against cyclists:

You will see that there are boxes specified for people to rate their "level of concern" over the following issues:

  • dangerous cycling (the only issue qualified by an adjective)
  • skateboarders (just skateboarders, apparently - even when they are off skateboards?)
  • noise
  • drunkenness
  • rough sleepers
  • begging
By calling it "dangerous cycling" it is clearly encouraging people to complain against it. Dangerous could prefix most of the above issues to make them sound more of an issue, but this is not done. Also, there is no mention of dangerous vehicles, which are surely a much more pressing concern.

I encourage people who live, work or visit Central London to use this form to voice concerns against dangerous driving and maybe the police will take a more proportionate approach.