Boardman Tells Mayor of London to Ban Lorries Following Cyclist Deaths

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11/19/2013| 0 comments
by Mark Watson

Boardman Tells Mayor of London to Ban Lorries Following Cyclist Deaths

British Cycling’s Policy Adviser, Chris Boardman, has written to the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to ask him to put into action his promise to look at removing the most dangerous lorries from the British capital’s roads during the busiest times. Other European capitals are also failing to protect cyclists.

In his open letter, written in response to the six cyclist deaths on London’s roads in the last two weeks, Boardman reminded the Mayor that he made a promise eight months ago to study the experiences of cities such as Paris and Dublin where lorries over a certain size are restricted from entering certain parts of the city during peak hours.  

Specifically, Chris Boardman’s letter to the Mayor states:

"When I rode alongside you to help you launch your vision for cycling in March this year, you made a verbal promise to look at the successful experiences of Paris and many other cities in restricting the movements of heavy vehicles during peak hours."

"London has an opportunity to emulate and surpass Paris and to lead the way for the other ambitious cycling cities across Britain. Let’s not waste this opportunity to do something now. The longer we delay, the more lives will be lost."

There have now been six cycling fatalities on the roads of London in two weeks and a total of fourteen so far in 2013. Heavy lorries were involved in nine of the fatal crashes – that’s 64% of the fatalities - despite making up less than 5% of traffic. In Paris, last year no cyclists were killed.

Responding to the criticism, Mayor Johnson said "Unless people obey the laws of the road there's no amount of traffic engineering that we invest in that is going to save people's lives." in an interview which aired on London's LBC radio station. Johnson thereby indicated the cyclists themselves were to blame for getting killed on the roads of London.

Johnson went on indicating he would support a ban on people wearing headphones while on their bikes. "Call me illiberal, but it makes me absolutely terrified to see (cyclists) bowling along unable to hear the traffic," he said. He didn't show any interest in living up to his promise of working actively to ensure a partial ban on lorries in London.

By banning lorries Paris and Dublin have shown great initiative and will to improve cyclist safety.

Denmark, which for many years was known as a first mover when it came to improving cyclist safety, have constructed bike lanes along most roads in its capital Copenhagen as well as in Aarhus and in Odense, commonly referred to as the "city of cycling." However, politicians have not yet had the courage to ban or restrict lorry usage in cities.

Danish police recently carried out an extensive raid that showed more than 25% of lorries had serious defects or did not meet legal requirements. In 2013 eight Danes have been killed in right-turn accidents involving lorries.

Germany is falling far behind modern European standards pertaining to cyclist safety. Most roads in Germany's capital Berlin have no bike lanes at all and new roads and bridges are continuously constructed without bike lanes.

Berlin is known for its many accidents involving cyclists. Last year eleven cyclists were killed in accidents involving right-turning and left-turning vehicles. Politicians, however, have failed to introduce a complete or "peak hour" lorry ban or compulsory construction of bike lanes when roads are renovated. Politicians still favour motorway expansion over cyclist safety.

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