Cyclists’ death trap on cycle lane in Lambeth?

I think a comment LindaH wrote in another post deserves more publicity. She’s describing a severe crash  on Cavendish Road in Lambeth on Sunday, 31 July around 11am. Apparently, this accident has not been reported yet. At least, neither Linda nor me were able to find additional information about the crash. (In the meantime, the Evening Standard published a brief story about the accident.)

Update: Sadly, according to this report, the crash was fatal. A female cyclist – later named as  Johannah Bailey, 49  was killed by a van. It raises the number of cyclists killed in Greater London this year to twelve, at least two more died just outside of the M25 (details about all crashes are available here)

The Met Police is still looking for witnesses of the collusion, as Detective Sergeant Philip Hames from the Road Death Investigation Unit at Hampton Traffic Garage stresses in a comment on this blog:

I would encourage anybody who has not yet given a statement to contact myself DS Phil Hames or DC Rob Hill on 020 8247 6985 or

So please, please – if anyone saw something and did not already talk to police, get in touch with them.

Philip Hames also writes that  the Traffic Management Unit from Merton Traffic Garage will be examining the junction and making suggestions regarding road safety to the local authority. This really sounds like encouraging news.

Update II: Following a discussion on Cycle Chat, a cyclist (“Origamist“) made two videos of the location where the crash apparently happend. From Nigels’ comment I glean that the cyclist was travelling southbound. Hence, this clip probably shows here way.

After about 10 or 11 seconds, you can spot the collision investigators’ marking in the middle of the road.

Here’s the scene seen from the opposite direction, the markings in the middle of the road can be seen at seconds 14 and 15.

A sad irony is that cycling campaigners identified the street where the accident happened as particularly dangerous three years ago:

An inspection ride that took place in 2008, attended by local London Cycling Campaign members, identified the section of London Cycle Network+ Route 5 (LCN+ 5) between Poynders Road and Abbeville Road as a major problem.

A full review “to determine how the junction should be redesigned” was recommended (CRISP, 24 June 2008).

LCC’s Mike Cavenett lives nearby: “This is a junction I avoid because it includes dangerous right turns in both directions. It’s long needed a major redesign to reduce danger for cyclists.”

In extremely poignant comments to this post, several eyewitness – Sara (here and here), Tania and Nigel – gave more details about what happened on Sunday.

Sara wrote:

This horrendous accident happened about 25 feet in front of my car and unfortunately the woman died instantly, although paramedics continued to work on her for 30 minutes. She was hit by a large white van just after the bend before Englewood Road which threw her up in the air and then ran over her – she didn’t stand a chance. Please please be careful cycling as what I witnessed will never leave me.

Tania, who was behind the white van, wrote:

I just don’t understand what the white van was doing in the middle of the road; well it’s a bit of a blur. I don’t think he was speeding, we weren’t, and he couldn’t have been doing more than 30. It’s very confusing as to why he drove over the island. When we re-visited the scene yesterday I did notice when cars turned the corner they did drive over the white lines in the middle (island).

We were clueless on what to do – in shock, there was this lady and man, they totally took control of the situation before the medics arrived, my husband just ran up and down, at first she had a pulse and was breathing, which was a relief, but then, well…

My thoughts are with the driver, I know he might have been in the wrong, but as a driver, I know how easy it is to be distracted (no excuse though). To look at his face and see the horror of what he had just did will stay with me, his first reaction was to cover her modesty, by taking off his tshirt and putting it over her, I was touched by this. He looked sooo lost, tears come to my eyes just remembering his moments, some kind lady was sitting down with him and talking to him (I had to stay in my van as I have a 10month old baby).

This is what Linda wrote:

Yesterday morning, yet another cyclist was the victim of a horrific accident, this time on Cavendish Road SW4. The accident took place just after 11am on Sunday 31 July. I cycled by minutes later, as passersby were applying emergency chest compressions, and as ambulance and police crews arrived on the scene. I have not been able to find out further details, so do not know whether the woman cyclist survived. I do know, however, that the South Circular was closed off until at least mid-afternoon.

The accident happened on a particularly dangerous section of the South Circular for cyclists in Lambeth. It is just east of Clapham Common, where Cavendish Road curves and then turns into Poynders Road. Traffic moves through here often at ridiculous speed and, because of the turns, drivers are less likely to see cyclists than elsewhere.

I have pointed Ross Lydall, Chief News Correspondent with the Evening Standard and an avid cyclist himself, on Twitter towards this horrific accident. I hope the Standards picks it up (they did, albeit very briefly)

Since I live in North London, I’m not too familiar with the area and the road design.

However, what Linda writes really sounds hair raising:

Continue reading “Cyclists’ death trap on cycle lane in Lambeth?”

My own Superhighways (I): Paddington – King’s Cross/St. Pancras

There has been a lot of fuss around the Barclays Cycle Superhighways in London – and a lot of criticism. This is the gospel according to “Transport for London” (TfL).

Barclays Cycle Superhighways are new cycle routes that run into central London from outer London to provide cyclists with safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city. The new routes are clearly marked and easy to follow.

By 2015 twelve of those cycle paths are supposed to be built. Currently two are in operation. However, a lot of cyclists severely criticise the superhighways.

Be that as it may. Here I want to present a different view on the issue. I’m going to present my own personal cycle superhighways. Or, to put it differenly and with an appropriate degree of decency, the real cycle superhighways. Most of them are not running into central London from outer parts of the city but are running across central London – routes that I frequently use on my Brompton.

My personal cycling philosophy probably is different than that of the ordinary London cyclist.  I’m trying to avoid busy “A” and “B” roads as well as large roundabouts asmuch as possible. Both are notorious accident hot spots where almost all fatal cycling accidents happen. I just don’t use them.  Most of the time, that’s amazingly easy. You’ll (almost) never see me on the Old Street roundabout, on Euston Road or High Holborn. I’m constantly looking for routes on quieter roads and trying to avoid those notorious accident hotpots.

Here’s my first example: going from Paddington station to King’s Cross station.

View and download the route ad

The most straightforward way to go there would be the ring road (Marylebone Road, Euston Road). For cyclists, however, that route is a complete and utter nightmare. The northern ring road is one of the busiest and most congested roads of the city with dozens of bus lines, a lot of lorries and way too many cars. Cycling there is definitely no fun.

However, there is a great alternative which is almost completely car-free. Just use the canal.

Looking for a real cycling superhighway?

Since I’ve moved to London in October 2009 I’ve always been a big fan of the canals for cycling. But it took me almost 1.5 years to realize that there is a direct link between King’s Cross (where I work) and Paddington (where I have to get sometimes to catch a train to Oxford). This route is approximately 1.5 km longer than taking the ring road but it’s MUCH safer (I haven’t seen a lorry at the canal, lately, for instance.)

Today, in the early afternoon, it took me 28 minutes to cycle from Paddington to King’s Cross. The tube takes 19 Minutes, and the highly theoretical travel time by car according to Google Maps is 13 minutes (probably at 3am, that’s doable, in the peak hours I bet it’s more than double). I reckon that taking the canal route adds 6 to 8 minutes to the cycling journey time at most.

From my personal point of view, instead of painting existing cycle paths blue, at least some superhighway funds would have better been invested in upgrading the cycle paths at the canal. Underneath some bridges, for example,  the path is very narrow and should be widened.

Do you have your own personal cycle superhighways? Just tell me, please!