Poor City traffic plan may cause more deaths

Cycle lane in a bus lane - by Matt Brown via Flickr

Cyclist deaths on London roads may have been caused by poor traffic planning, with implications for those policing the capital’s roads.

In 2009, a report carried out by engineering firm Colin Buchanan focused on the area surrounding King’s Cross. Pedestrian and vehicle numbers for nearby streets (including York Way and Euston Road) were tallied. The lengthy document also featured a detailed look at collisions.

However, figures later used in the re-design of major roads did not factor in bicycle use. ‘Two-wheeled vehicles’ were excluded, seemingly on the basis that their Passenger Car Unit values were deemed too small. The body responsible for commissioning the study, Transport for London (TfL), is to conduct a major review over the next few months.

Cycle use continues to rise in the capital. Last week, Mayor Boris Johnson welcomed the expansion of his Barclays Cycle Hire scheme. Worryingly for the Met, the number of collisions involving cyclists in the vicinity of Kings Cross escalated following the major road improvements.

In 2010, the Olympic Delivery Authority said it expected 800,000 people to use public transport during the height of this summer’s Games. Increased pressure on the roads, along with possible poor planning by TfL, could lead to a sharp rise in the number of incidents.

The transport organisation could also be facing corporate manslaughter charges, following the death of a cyclist outside a busy train station last October. Detective Chief Inspector John Oldham, Head of Scotland Yard’s Road Death Investigation Unit, told The Times last week that it is one of several incidents under investigation.

Another of the City’s major links is also a cause for concern among cyclists. Blackfriars Bridge was the target of three protests by the London Cycling Campaign last year.

It wants a 20mph speed limit to be kept in place and for a double-T junction to be introduced in order to make the road safe for what it considers ‘vulnerable users’.

The TfL’s own survey found a 129% increase in the number of cycles using the bridge between 1998 and 2008. Other crossings have seen similar rises. In his bid to get London peddling, Mayor Johnson may ultimately face pressure to give cyclists the safe road-space they need.

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