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Met Police Traffic Unit says 9 London cyclists killed by lorries in 2008
1.11.08 by Buffalo Bill

The Met Police Traffic Unit is a remarkably progressive organisation. This statement will probably come as a surprise to many of my readers, but that is my experience, and my observation. Here’s what leads me to that conclusion:

The guys who investigate fatal or near fatal crashes, now treat the roads where the crashes have happened exactly like a crime scene. That is, they bar the public until they have made a thorough investigation of the scene. After the death of Seb Lukomski, they took the lorry off to one of their garages, and it was their work on the mirrors, combined with careful examination of the CCTV footage, that led to the successful prosecution of the driver.

They stopped calling crashes ‘accidents’ a long time ago. The guys who literally crawl around on the road looking for evidence are called ‘collision investigators’, not ‘accident investigators’. To me this shows that they view crashes not as inevitable coincidences, but as avoidable tragedies.

I know that there is some doubt about the methods used to collect and collate statistics relating to traffic collisions (called STATS19 figures), but I doubt that the Traffic guys are to blame for the continuing confusion over whether the StATS19 numbers give an accurate picture.

I don’t know who is in charge of the Unit now, but the guy who was in charge when I was involved TfL HGV/cyclist process1, Ian Brooks (then Chief Inspector), was a smart guy (and, incidentally, a regular cyclist), who was immensely helpful during the whole thing. He outlined to us the frustrations of being always present AFTER a collision had happened, and made it clear that he believed that more resources needed to allocated to prevention, ie stopping injury and death BEFORE they happened.

So the numerous ‘lorry/cyclist’ days that the Traffic Unit have promoted2 are clearly part of the the Traffic Unit’s strategy to reduce the number of cyclists killed by collisions with lorries. There is another one this Monday, from 7am, on St Georges Road SE1, which involves a tipper lorry of exactly the type that was involved in the collisions that killed Harriet Tory and Seb Lukomski. You will be able to get into the cab and see the road from the driver’s point of view. The Traffic Unit will also be handing out the Fresnel lenses3 that aid lorry driver’s views of their passenger side, into which they have difficulty seeing.

The press release that the Met sent out says that of 11 cyclists killed in London so far in 2008, 9 died as the result of collisions with lorries. The Met makes this 81% of the total. So despite the efforts of the Traffic Unit, TfL, LCC, CTC, Roadpeace, and all the consciousness raising that the Bike Show, LondonFGSS, Moving Target et al have done, there has been very little change in the numbers of London cyclists killed by lorries since 2000. The average number killed per year remains between 7 and 94. If you have any friends that are new to cycling, or simply do not know that a lorry is 30 times more likely to kill a cyclist in London than a car5, then urge them to go down to St Georges Road on Monday.

1 For more on the HGV/cyclist thing, see this article.

2 Moving Target visited one of these demos. See this article.

3 For more on Fresnel lenses, see this article.

4 See this article for figures for year ending June 2006, and this article for the year ending December 2007.

5 This an old figure, from a 1994 BMJ report. The current number is probably more like 60 – 100 times more likely. See this article.

  1. Top post.

    I’ll be going down to St George’s Road on Monday, with mic in hand, with the intention of gathering some reactions from cyclists to getting into the cab of a tipper truck. If you see me there, come over and say hello.

    Jack    1 November 2008, 13:36    #
  2. Jack, I won’t have much time on Monday, so I might not be able to ask myself, but could you also ask one of the Met if they know how many of the 9 were killed by left-turns?

    — Bill    1 November 2008, 14:15    #
  3. Will do.

    I’ve just posted the fascinating stats on cyclist collisions presented at the City of London Police’s Road Safety Forum last month over here .

    Jack    1 November 2008, 14:42    #
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