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8th female London cyclist killed by lorry?
15.12.09 by Buffalo Bill

Reading the comments in the follow up to a report of a cyclist/lorry collision in Greenwich a couple of weeks ago, it seems that the cyclist has died of her injuries. This would be the 13th cyclist to have been killed in London, and the 9th to have died as the result of a collision with a lorry, of which, 8 have been female.

I don’t know exactly what to make of this stat. Regular readers of Moving Target will remember that the numbers of London cyclists killed by lorries in the period 1999 to May 2004 was 491. 21 were female, and 28 were male. So there has been an astonishing turnaround here which, in my view, merits further investigation. The gender correlation is, well, remarkable. Is it causal? Is there something about the behaviour of female cyclists that makes them currently susceptible to being run over by lorries than males?

Or is it more that males have modified their behaviour, and this modification makes them much less likely to be run over than they were 5 years ago? After all, in the period, roughly 5 or 6 men a year were being killed by lorries in London (the study period covered a 55 month period).

Given that whilst the numbers of regular cyclists in London has at least doubled in the last ten years, and the numbers of cyclists killed in collisions with vehicles that are NOT lorries has come down to 5 or less a year, from over 10 a year in the previous period, one would have to say that unless you are a female cyclist, cycling in London is far, far safer than it was. Why is there this massive discrepancy?

1 London Road Safety Unit statistics collected for a study of all recorded lorry/cyclist fatalities. See this Moving Target article.

Pink Express rider hit & 'critically' injured by lorry this morning
Guardian piece on Sheppard's death and trial by media
Guardian story on lorry deaths makes serious error
Perceived danger of lorries - a survey for London cyclists
Two London cyclists killed in two days by lorries
Police appeal for witnesses to fatal collision, 11th London cyclist killed
Daily Mail attacks cyclists, Jenny Jones says write to your MLA
Cynthia Barlow of Roadpeace on cuts to 'lorry police'
Boris Johnson reduces London cyclists' safety; MPs protest
Mayor's transport questions and answers, doublethink and other nonsense

  1. Terrible news. On your point about gender: it is very strange, but surely part of the answer is that a higher proportion of cyclists in London are now women than they were 5 years ago?


    — Chris Peck    15 December 2009, 14:29    #
  2. Part of the answer, yes, but only a small part. There are not 8 times as many female cyclists in London as there are male.


    — Bill    15 December 2009, 17:01    #
  3. Someone suggested to me that part of this might lie in the possibility that women are more trusting than men in assuming that truck drivers can see them in their left-hand sideview mirror(s).

    Personally, having visited the site on Lower Thames Street where Seb Lukomski (who I never met) was killed by a left-turning lorry and also through a regular reading of the reporting on this blog I feel sharply aware of the risks involved in being on the inside of a HGV or any other vehicle, especially when approaching a left turn. You NEVER know what the other road user’s going to do but you have to try to minimise the risk where HGV’s are concerned.


    — Darrenger    15 December 2009, 19:22    #
  4. I knew Seb.And i knew the way he rode his bike as well.I dont know the particular circumstances of his tragic accident per say but i will say this: he was taking his chances.Still i remember the day i heard he news and my complete shock.Also my sister is a rider in London too, and had a few accidents herself .My understanding from her experiences and the general way i was watching girls riding around is that female cyclists in their vast majority although they do appear to be a lot more obedient to the traffic rules , they also appear to suffer in a greater degree from males with similar experience on the road from a well known syndrome:spatial awareness which in conjunction with lower physical ability to maneuver in time , leaves them too often exposed in the wrong position in the street.Note also that the female cyclists killed are not couriers but ordinary commuters which means their exposure to the everyday traffic and their respective experience is just a fraction of female couriers.Once they gain enough experience of course then i dont see any differences at all.So i would say its just takes the female cyclists more time to reach a sound level of riding through everyday traffic, leaving them exposed to relative danger for longer periods.


    — Kostas    15 December 2009, 22:26    #
  5. Darren’s suggestion sounds plausible.

    Kostas, on the other hand… this is sexist nonsense, and also fails to explain why the rate of male fatality has dropped so dramatically, despite the increase in inexperienced cyclists on the road.


    — Bill    16 December 2009, 07:31    #
  6. Kostas,I don’t know of any decent couriers who don’t take chances whilst working.You,on the other hand,whenever I saw you on the road,were always travelling at about 5mph.You were also a miserable bugger.I hope you have sold your bicycle to someone that actually enjoys riding.


    — overdrive    16 December 2009, 10:10    #
  7. I think the 8-1 ratio is purely chance and cannot be attributed to any definite reason. In statistical terms 9 is such a low number that you cannot read anything into it. If it was 800-100 then you could assume there was a reason, but with 8-1 I don’t think you can.


    — JP    16 December 2009, 11:25    #
  8. For a long time I’ve been waiting on another cycling forum for this very matter to be discussed, but it seems to politically incorrect to voice apparent realities. In referring to what JP said, one hopes that the “sample” size for these statistics remains low, but the variation based on gender is highly significant. I think there is something about a difference in male and female rider’s perceptions of road placing, and possibly also in expectations of motorists’ behaviour.


    — GA2G    17 December 2009, 20:19    #
  9. Being miserable or not doesnt affect the things i state.And if you want to take chances is up to you.Its a case of weather it is worth it or not.That is what you have to answer.I simply decided it wasn’t worth killing my self or taking too many chances.And being a good courier is not about jumping lights even though i recognize that sometimes you have to do it.

    As for Bill, truth is always hard.I am not a sexiest even if i come across as one.Just speaking from my experience.Don’t want to offend .Being politically correct never worked favors to anyone.Might be that i was a bit simplistic in my explanation but the core was sound .


    — Kostas    19 December 2009, 08:47    #
  10. Kostas, you make an assertion, and then back it up by calling it a ‘truth’. Where is your evidence that women are inherently less capable of judging distance and speed than men?

    I am offended, not by the sexism per se, but by the laziness of your reasoning.


    — Bill    19 December 2009, 11:04    #
  11. I have to agree with Darrenger as I have witnessed 2 accidents (luckily minor) where female cyclists have gone up the inside of a HGV indicating to turn left and have been forced off their bikes. I have no idea what they are thinking pulling manuevours like that when lights are turning green but my female friends view of cycling is very different to mens.

    Judgement of traffic speed and spatial awareness aren’t a part of this, rather I feel its being less confident in their own physical abilities and fear of the traffic on the roads (side effects being they are slower and stay too close to the kerb).

    A few of my friends have had near misses when starting out and been too scared to get back on their bikes when they just need to add this to their experience and learn from it which is a real shame.


    — Pixi    20 December 2009, 21:58    #
  12. Sorry Bill.You might be right there and deserve a more thorough answer. A little food for thought :Why the majority of ppl who are pilots/drivers are still overwhelmingly men?Why dont you see more often even nowadays woman racing drivers? slower reflexes ,physically inferior, emotionally more fragile? ,these are just some of the facts due to the biological nature we humans are built.Nothing to do with being sexist.Maybe as some said before statistically the sample is not big enough to give you a safe spread over the population , but i am not surprised of the relation the data showing of No of deaths versus sex of riders.So it is either completely random or there has to be a reason due to the nature of simply being female .I dont see any other common factor you can derive from these samples, as age or type of bike or time in the day,location etc , to determine or to attribute to ,the reason of the accidents. For these factors to reveal themselves as true or false reasons for the accident ,i think you need a much larger sample data.Perhaps even some how to take into account non fatal accidents too.
    At least you didn’t call me miserable.Thank you.


    — Kostas    21 December 2009, 17:48    #
  13. Kostas, do you not think that there might be a few important social reasons why women don’t feature in these elite professions, which might be the same reasons that women don’t feature in the other elite professions, such as banking, medicine, surgery, higher echelons of politics etc etc where physique is not any kind of a factor?

    Also, I am not sure that there is any convincing evidence that women’s response times are inferior to men’s.

    If you reread the article, you will see that one of the surprising trends is the decrease in number of men killed by lorry collisions. What is that men have started doing differently and why?


    — Bill    21 December 2009, 18:32    #
  14. Social reasons is a valid point and to an extend i could accept it as part of the reason why they get excluded .But i think its only a small part and in specific professions that have to do more with social status and educational opportunities of men and women .Get nowadays vs 30 years ago for example ,rather pure abilities .How many MP’s are women in todays parliament vs 30 years ago? Now ask the same for racing drivers.Why still the difference in racing ?For example, to become a special unit operative (army, police etc) you will see that women are far and few , always were, always will be.The reason is obvious ,no mystery there.Has to do mostly with the physical limitations if anything.So in some professions women will always be in a disadvantage no matter how good the individuals are.I have read a few articles , not conclusive 100% but showing strong indications why women fail more often than men in certain experiments and vice versa.Generally speaking men are superior to women not only in strength but also in speed, accuracy , coordination , especially when they come under pressure etc.This has nothing to do with mental capabilities ie being stupid or clever.
    ‘‘If you reread the article, you will see that one of the surprising trends is the decrease in number of men killed by lorry collisions. What is that men have started doing differently and why?’‘
    Not drive into the inside of a lorrie.Simple.The question needs answering is why men realize that fact and potential threat for their safety faster than women?


    — Kostas    22 December 2009, 14:14    #
  15. Bill. I think there are people who do not deserve a voice.


    — michael toivonen    23 December 2009, 06:50    #
  16. Mike the true philosopher.Couldnt keep your nose out could you?
    Let us marvel at your insults once again then.You have so much to teach the rest of us.You condescending pompous little shit.Mind your business for once.
    Whats the matter? too cold for you outside?


    — Kostas    23 December 2009, 10:46    #
  17. Says it all really.


    — michael toivonen    23 December 2009, 23:08    #
  18. Keep this forum to your self and the likes of you Mike.Since all i get is irony and sarcasm i dont see why i should be wasting my time here anymore.And yes , this is a wasted forum now thanks to ppl like you.In case you haven’t noticed all the threads are pointless and the remarks too.Nothing engaging, nothing intriguing in the slightest .A lot of ppl stopped posting here due to lack of stimulus and there is just going to be another one shortly. And all that largely thanks to 2 things, a)complete lack of moderation b)People like you , with nothing interesting to say or add apart from insults, irony, etc.This is boring at best.
    I guess you going to have to find someone else to hurtle abuse at now , and make yourself feel a bit better.


    — kostats    24 December 2009, 16:43    #
  19. Thank you Santa! Now he’s gone, no need for any of that braindeadness. Just a shame we never got to know where his stats came from. I.E how many people stopped posting and where that was recorded. The “articles” he read on a wide variety of subjects. Was he a true scholar or just a complete nugget? I’ve cast my vote. Happy days.


    — michael toivonen    24 December 2009, 18:31    #
  20. Jeeze, what a miserable bastard. Merry xmas everbody, even you Overcelerbratingxmas.


    — Zack Speedfast    25 December 2009, 12:14    #
  21. Kostas,where have you been abused on this thread?Alright,I called you miserable but that’s hardly a crime is it?You have overreacted and it’s not the first time.As you know not much is taken seriously on the forum but don’t you think that might be because most couriers want to have a bit of a laugh?London couriers are renowned for this.Happy xmas and new year to you,sir!
    Waaaaheeeyy!!!!


    — overdrive    26 December 2009, 11:16    #
  22. have a nice new yr …an alls carefull afterall..peace


    — carlos    31 December 2009, 16:17    #
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