Boris left at the lights
16.04.09 by Buffalo Bill
The Mayor of London has announced that he will be asking the Government to change traffic laws so that cyclists can turn left at red lights. He hopes that this will cut the number of collisions between cyclists and HGVs. As you will know, if you are a regular reader of this blog, 3 women have been killed by collisions with lorries so far this year. I doubt that being able to turn left on red would have enabled any of the 3 to avoid the collisions that killed them.
Meryem Ozekman, killed at Elephant and Castle last week, was nowhere near a traffic light when she was run over. Rebecca Goosen, killed on Old Street, was almost certainly going straight on over the junction with Aldersgate Street, as her office was on Cowcross Street, so she is likely to have followed Clerkenwell Road at least to the St John Street junction.1 And Eilidh, killed at Notting Hill Gate, is known to have followed NHG all the way down to Shepherd’s Bush, and, in any case, is reported to have been on the right hand side of the lorry that killed her.
I think the Mayor’s proposal is worth pursuing, and I think the idea is a good one, but it’s too simplistic to see it as the answer. As Jack Thurston reported months ago,
City of London [Police] spot checks on HGVs [were] carried out on 30 September 2008 as part of the Europe-wide Operation Mermaid2, which is intended to step up levels of enforcement of road safety laws in relation to lorries. On this one day, 12 lorries were stopped randomly by City Police. Five of those lorries were involved in the construction work for the 2012 Olympics. All of the twelve lorries were breaking the law in at least one way. Repeat: a 100 per cent criminality rate among small random sample of HGVs on the streets of central London. The offences range included overweight loads (2 cases), mechanical breaches (5 cases), driver hours breaches (5 cases), mobile phone use while driving (2 cases), driving without insurance (2 cases) and no operator license (1 case).
We also know that 2 lorries involved in fatal collisions with cyclists in the last 2 years were missing mirrors.3 Given that there is a new law on the books obliging all lorries registered since 2000 to fit more mirrors, and that a failure to see the cyclist by the driver must have been a factor in all 3 of the deaths mentioned above perhaps the Mayor ought to be making statements to the effect that the Met Traffic Unit will be doing a lot more random stops to make sure that these mirrors are actually fitted.
1 For more on these deaths see this Standard article.
2 More on Operation Mermaid, which is a cross-border operation aimed at taking dangerous lorries (and dangerous lorry drivers) off the road, see this story on the TISPOL website.
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