Thursday, 5 August 2010

Another rider down

Another London cyclist was knocked off her bike today.

According to reports, a thirtysomething woman was hit by a black cab at the corner of Graham Road and Navarino Road shortly after midday. It's a relatively fast stretch of road, one that takes you from the snarl-ups in Hackney Central, a place you might reasonably want to get away from as fast as possible. Trouble is, the road is criss-crossed by bike lanes.

Cycling in London – and its safety or otherwise – has been playing on my mind lately, not least because of the launch last month of the new bike hire scheme, which is bringing thousands of under-experienced riders onto the roads. How long before the first 'Boris Bike' goes under a bus?

Soon, if the statistics are anything to go by. On average about eight cyclists per year are killed by lorries in London, accounting for about half the cyclist deaths in the capital.

But lately - in the couple of weeks since the bike-hire scheme was unwrapped, and London's ludicrous cycle superhighways were declaed open – I've noticed the roads have become ever-so slightly angrier.

Are drivers frustrated by all the attention that's been given to the cycling cause of late? Does the sight of people on two wheels merrily weaving through traffic (and, in certain cases, jumping through red lights) get their blood up? Do they, perhaps, just feel that they're missing out?

It could be the unexpected/unusually/unseasonally (delete as appropriate) warm summer that we've been having causing road users to be that little bit tetchier with each other. But on my daily ride to work, I feel more, shall we say, targetted than usual.

Now, I am one of those pious cyclists who uses lights after dark, wears a helmet and flourescent gubbins, indicates when turning, stops at lights... you know, good-practice Highway Code stuff. But in recent weeks I've had a saloon sat in traffic in a turn-left lane pull out on me as I passed along The Mall. I've had an arctic accelerate behind me on Upper Street and bib me out of the way. It's now a daily occurence for oncoming cars to swerve dangerously into my path as they go between the bumps of sleeping policemen,.

Speaking of which, today I was so incensed by a police car stopping at the lights full-square in a bikes-only Advanced Stop box in Trafalgar Square that I rode to the front, positioned myself ahead of it, and in full view of the driver, took down the registration. (I've no idea what to do with it, but I think he got the message.)

All of which is why I've bought myself a new piece of kit - a mini cycling camera. It's call the Veho Cam Muvi, costs about £75 from Cycle Surgery, and when worn on a shoulder strap of your rucksack, records your journey. Just like this guy. Might be handy in case I *do* have an accident.

Smile, idiot drivers.


  1. I find it astonishing that so much has been invested in the Boris Bikes and the newly-painted stretches of asphalt (aka the Bike Superhighways) and yet all of this cash has done nothing to increase the actual safety of cyclists. Can't one of Boris's city planners or transport czars take a trip to a city like The Hague and see how, with some clever thinking, traffic-less bike lanes and streets can be set up, separating cyclists from goods vehicles, taxis and white van men? Odd.

  2. And to think that the scheme is going to be expanded:

    This morning on my way in, I saw someone on one of those hulking sit-up-and-beg Boris Bike being pulled over by the police – flashing lights, honking horns, everything. Running red lights? Cycling without due savoir faire?

  3. This cyclists vs drivers thing is getting worse:

    'Road rage' row could have led to firebombing in Stepney Aug 2010 10%3A12%3A16%3A197

  4. A good friend's partner was run down by a van doing a u-turn without any indication or warning and was called a "stupid bitch" as he ran over her and her bike. Where does this anger come from? Another piece of mis-directed rage - perhaps the van driver should have been ram-raiding the doors of Boris's gaff rather than taking out his frustrations about traffic on an innocent cyclist...?