Hackney People on bikes call for protected cycle tracks on the main roads in Hackney.

Following the tragic news of another cycle fatality in Hackney this morning, the 13th cycle fatality in Hackney within the past ten years, the cycle campaign group “Hackney People on Bikes” are calling on TfL and Hackney Council to urgently introduce protected cycle tracks on the main roads in the borough.

Recent statistics show that most collisions in Hackney that result in the death or serious injury to the person cycling happen on the main roads. Hackney Council also admitted in their own cycling plan last year that “there have been limited improvements for cyclists on our busiest roads.” and that “It is inevitable that cyclists will continue to use our busy high streets and strategic roads that carry high volumes of vehicular traffic because often they are the most direct and quickest routes.” Yet despite this there appears to be no plans to copy international best practice and introduce protected cycle tracks on the main roads within the borough.

We’re pleased to see Transport for London today announce plans to build segregated cycle tracks linking Oval to Vauxhall and ask TFL to urgently commit to introducing the same treatment to their roads within the London Borough of Hackney. We believe that so long as lorries and bikes are expected to share the same space, tragic events such as today’s will continue to be repeated. While we applaud Hackney Council for providing some good cycling specific infrastructure on a few minor roads in the borough, such as Goldsmith’s Row, we call on the council to urgently develop plans to make our main roads and junctions safe, welcoming and accessible for everyone, of any age,  who wishes to ride a bike in Hackney.

www.hackneypeopleonbikes.wordpress.com/

www.twitter.com/HackneyPOB

HackneyPOB@gmail.com

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25 thoughts on “Hackney People on bikes call for protected cycle tracks on the main roads in Hackney.

  1. It is worth noting that this morning’s fatality happened on Transport for London roads not Hackney Borough’s.

    Left (or right) turning lorries are recognised as the most serious hazard to cyclists in all the European countries with far better cycling infrastructure than here. Half the cyclist fatalities in Berlin involve lorries, just as in London.

    The authorities in Copenhagen and Amsterdam have launched publicity campaigns aimed at cyclists and drivers highlighting the risks. Cycling groups in all these countries have taken up the LCC led campaigns for re-designing lorries to make it easier for drivers to see cyclists and pedestrians. They support our initiatives to fit better equipment to lorries and improve driver training.

    Designing risk free junctions in restricted urban areas is a problem that no one has fully resolved. It is equally important to do everything possible to reduce the risk at source. Hackney is to be commended as one of of the first highway authorities to actually enforce lorry bans to reduce danger to cyclists and pedestrians on the roads they control. Unfortunately they do not have the powers to do this on Transport for London roads.

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    1. Hi Charlie, what roads are lorries banned on? I don’t think I have come across them. You’ll note our response is directed towards TfL as well as the Council, however as mentioned previously elsewhere, Hackney Council have actually blocked TfL’s previous attempts to install segregated cycle lanes in Hackney.

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      1. Every road where you see a weight limit sign restricting access to lorries over 7.5 tons or 18 tons. If you cycle up Kingsland road these restrictions are on all the roads that used to be major rat runs for lorries, and where cyclists have died. For example: Falkirk st, Nuttal st. Downham rd, Middleton rd, Englefield rd etc, There are signs on similar routes off Mare st. There are also some on crucial points where cycle routes cross the canal at Whitmore rd, Pritchards rd. and many more.

        Some of these restrictions have been there for decades but have only been enforced since LCC campaigned to reduce the number of lorry casualties in the borough.

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      2. OK I don’t use any of those routes so that’s why I haven’t seen those signs. I’m not aware of any near me but will keep a special eye out.
        As you know we have praised a number of LCC/Council initiatives on smaller roads but believe that too little has been done to even look into the feasibility of protected lanes on main roads & at junctions.

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    2. Hi Charlie,

      As we said in the statement we do applaud Hackney Council for measures they have taken on some minor roads in the borough, such as filtered permeability and the lorry bans you speak of. We also support the London cycling campaign with any redesign of lorries to help reduce the threat of lorry and cycle collisions.

      We support all of those measures AND call for protected cycle tracks on the main roads in the borough. Dutch style well designed cycle tracks that are set back from the carriageway at junctions to provide both a waiting area for vehicles turning into side roads whilst giving way to people cycling and improving the visibility for drivers at the junction can only help to decrease these kinds of collisions.

      Whilst reducing levels of motor traffic is always a positive move, lorries and buses will continue to use our main roads and people cycling should be separated from them, just as pedestrians are.

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  2. Are you seriously suggesting that the junction design and lack of cycle infrastructure in this location, which would never have been acceptable in northern European countries, was not a significant factor in this tragedy? Do you really feel that a safer junction cannot be designed? Is it true that Hackney Council has no influence on this junction design and so TfL are at liberty to redesign it? If that’s the case, then I look forward to this junction being redesigned to a TfL prescription and, moreover, a TfL design being installed as a superhighway on the A10 through Hackney. Fully resolving the issues of turning lorries may not have been fully resolved in other countries, but Hackney have barely started, and what they’ve done is clearly not enough. The comparable safety statistics between countries suggest otherwise, not in percentage terms , but in absolute terms.

    I hope you make yourself available to the bereaved to answer questions, and perhaps an appearance at the inquest representing Council might be apposite – I think they deserve an explanation of this sort.

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    1. Well said Andy (watching from afar?) Amhurst Park is peppered with ‘choke’ traffic islands making it a challenge to cycle when the road is busy, and the junction with Seven Sisters Road is laced with hazards for both cyclists and drivers (and not great to cross as a pedestrian).

      Westbound a high speed filter junction is likely to have a driver looking in the right mirror or over their shoulder, as the main focus, in order to filter into the traffic flow along Seven Sisters Road, and very likely to ignore the left side/drift to the left. There is a cycle routing at the junction that screams ‘hazards’ in so many places – especially Westbound on Seven Sisters Road, where it would seem far safer to take the lane than use the ‘deadly’ cycle facility, and then ride in the hatched zone until a space to pull over to the left opens up..

      I did have to check as the 6 lane dual carriageway from here to Manor House gives all the visual signals of a 40-50mph road (think A41 to Brent Cross) but it does appear to be a 30mph limit, with a staggering hazard of the 279 bus doing a U turn across all 6 lanes for every trip, just East of the Manor House cross roads. Who has done any risk assessment for that – a hazard on every trip with the potential of a speeding vehicle hitting a turning bus square on in the side…

      Reports from the press I’ve seen do not give a proper picture of what happened – the crash is on CLOCS rader as a logged incident, which is where I spotted it. If the detail is available a more rational response than the polarised ‘more segregation’ might be possible

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    2. Andy, what I am saying is that the type of infrastructure you envisage does not guarrantee protection from left turning large vehicles with restricted vision. That is clear from the high proportion of these type of injury crashes in other countries and the concerted action by the authorities there to reduce the risk from lorries.

      A few years ago when we were lobbying the EU for better standard mirrors on lorries it was the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium that led the way. The Belgian government even paid for lorry companies to upgrade mirrors before the EU changed the rules. They did this because infrastructure alone did not remove the risk of these injuries. Research in Germany (*) showed a high level of serious injuries from turning lorries. Separate cycling infrastructure in some cases moved cyclists further from the sight line of lorry drivers, reducing the chance that they might be seen before approaching a junction.

      Earlier this week I was cycling in a typical old European city. Providing safe mode separation is not as easy nor as ubiquitous as some people suggest. The biggest risk is at the junctions and transition points where providing continuous separation is difficult or not possible.

      There is a very tiny section of separated cycle route at the Seven Sisters/Amhurst Park junction. It gives southbound cyclists protection from the fast motor traffic entering from the left, at the cost of losing priority compared to other traffic. Most crashes here are caused by traffic entering from the left or turning right into Amhurst Park. Left turning traffic into Amhurst park is much less common, but when it goes wrong with a 32 ton lorry the outcome is horrific.

      As for bereaved families, I have been available to them, listening and trying to give support for over 20 years. First as a volunteer and as part of my job for the last nine years. It is not an easy thing to do. Every situation and set of people is different. Personally I would feel cruel and dishonest if I pretended to them that there was one single solution that could guarantee similar crashes could never happen.

      * for example:
      NIEWÖHNER W, BERG F. A. and HOOGVELT B.:
      Real-world Crashes Involving Trucks and Cars, Cyclists or Pedestrians
      Proceedings 5th DEKRA/VDI Symposium Safety of Commercial Vehicles, Neumünster, 12th-13th Oktober 2006

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      1. Hi Charlie,

        I am slightly confused by your comments here. No-one has suggested we stop trying to improve safety of vehicles. Whilst vehicle safety improvements are incredibly important they do nothing to help with other incidents like close passes, or speeding. Protected infrastructure can do that. No-one is kidding themselves that roads can be made collision free, but the site of yesterdays death could easily be made significantly safer for ALL road users. The Seven Sisters road is long and straight, and the protected cycle lane you mentioned is a feeble bit of design to allow two large roads to merge without slowing down. TfL had to go through two re-designs before coming up with the design we have now. The statement is made to both TfL and Hackney and in my opinion is right in calling for better protection at this and many other junctions in Hackney.

        Best,

        Jono

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Like Jono, I can’t quite make sense of Charlie’s comments here.

        Nobody is arguing that safer junction design, with more separation between HGVs and people cycling, will “guarantee protection” (to use his words).

        The argument is, rather, that more physical separation, with better sight lines and clearly-defined crossing points, will *greatly reduce the risk of collisions occurring*. Not eliminate – no system is perfect. But we desperately need to draw from best overseas practice, learning from those countries, like the Netherlands, which have decades of experience, and marked success, in reducing the frequency of these kinds of collisions.

        This is an entirely separate issue from safer lorry design, and it does not make a great deal of sense to blur the two approaches together. They should go hand-in-hand, rather than being seen as an either-or approach.

        (On a side note, I do wish people would stop pointing to quite obviously rubbish pieces of infrastructure as exemplars of segregation)

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      3. Like Jono, I am a little puzzled by Charlie’s comments.

        Nobody is suggesting that safer junction design – separating cycling from HGVs as much as possible (either spatially or temporally), and ensuring that when paths do cross, priorities are clear, and that visibility is good – will “guarantee protection” or be “risk free”, to use Charlie’s words.

        Rather, the argument is that these approaches will significantly reduce the chances of collisions occurring; that we should start employing the road design techniques used in the country which has decades of experience (and success) in reducing the chances of HGV-cyclist collisions occurring.

        This is an entirely separate approach to safer lorry design; there is no reason why these two approaches cannot proceed together.

        (I’m also a little tired of plainly awful pieces of cycling ‘infrastructure’ being pointed to as exemplars of separation)

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  3. Charlie,

    I think you’re swinging at some straw men here, and I’m not sure why.

    Nobody thinks providing protected infrastructure will guarantee safety (or can be built) everywhere. However, at points with heavy traffic and significant potential conflict it can vastly reduce risk.

    In the Netherlands, for example, where many major junctions are protected, the proportion of accidents that HGVs are involved in may be similar to here – but the number of accidents per kilometre cycled is much lower – so the number of HGV related accidents per kilometre cycled is also much lower. Given that their lorry designs are similar, that’s mostly a result of protected junctions and tracks.

    I think it would be useful at this point for you to make clear your strong support for both better lorry design, and for well-designed protected junctions where there is significant interaction and potential conflict between cyclists and HGVs. Neither strategy will guarantee against collisions, but both effectively reduce risk.

    Thanks

    Fred

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    1. Hi,
      I am swinging at the tweeters and bloggers who say or imply that I, London Cycling Campaign, Hackney Cyclists and LB Hackney are complicit in this woman’s death because we prioritise a different route to provide safe space for cycling than the one they propose.
      Some of them say we should do nothing to reduce the danger from poorly designed lorries because they believe that they have the solution that “eliminates deaths from HGVs”. I find that particularly scary given the evidence in my last post.
      From the Dutch casualty statistics it is not clear how much the difference between here and there is due to keeping lorries off routes where cyclists are, differences in driving law and culture or physical separation on some of the roads. What is clear is that HGV/cyclist crashes do happen at junctions with “separation” in NL. Similarly in London, 8-10% of cyclists deaths happen at such junctions.

      charlie

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      1. Charlie, please link to your source for the Netherlands data, I’d like to see it.

        Also, which junctions in London have “separation” along the lines of what we’re calling for? There are none at all that I know of.

        Simple question: Does the Hackney branch of the London Cycling Campaign support the recently voted-for AGM motions regarding separated cycleways on busy roads? Yes or no.

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      2. If you have issues with people on Twitter maybe you could raise them there, with the people concerned? Hackney People on Bikes have made no such claim re lorry safety being irrelevant or unnecessary, to imply otherwise is totally misleading and disingenuous.

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      3. Which route to providing “safe space for cycling” are you talking about,exactly? Trying to divert people via back streets via the absolutely woeful “core network”? (most of which doesn’t even connect!)

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      4. “From the Dutch casualty statistics it is not clear how much the difference between here and there is due to keeping lorries off routes where cyclists are, differences in driving law and culture or physical separation on some of the roads.”

        Charlie! Oh please! That is such a bizarre statement to anyone who has any experience of the Dutch cycling system, or even anyone who has read “A View from the Cycle Path” and similar Dutch-bases blogs for any time. We do know how the Dutch keep cyclists and lorries apart as much as possible. It is by separation of routes, and segregation where routes are not separated.

        See also “Bicycledutch” on unravelling modes:
        https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/unravelling-modes/
        and “As Easy As Riding A Bike” on mixing with lorries, Dutch style, showing pictures from actual bike rides of where the lorries are:
        https://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/mixing-with-lorries-dutch-style/

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Charlie,

        No-one is suggesting or implying that you or anyone else is ‘complicit’ in any accident. No-one is suggesting, either, that we should do nothing to reduce the danger from poorly designed lorries. There will always be some roads without separation and it’s (obviously) vital to have well-designed lorries operating here.

        We are saying, however, that building protected junctions is a very effective way to reduce risk on busy roads and junctions with many cyclists and HGVs. If you, LCC, and HCC and have in fact decided to ‘prioritise a different route to provide safe space for cycling’ over this, then please supply strong evidence on the relative effectiveness of each route that supports your decision to prioritise campaigning for one over the other, rather than campaigning for both. As LCC members, whose subscriptions pay for all these activities, we would like to be certain that you are using these subscriptions to best possible effect.

        Thanks,

        Fred.

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      6. The problem with the “just add more training” and “just fix lorries” mantra is that while training and better lorries will improve matters some, it will not take care of inattentiveness, misjudgements and just plain fuckups or just plain accidents. The only thing which’ll improve that is adding more margin to everything.

        This means things like:
        1) proper segregation, which’ll near as makes no difference completely remove the problem of close passes, tailgating, roadrage due to cyclists being vastly slower than the rest of traffic, etc
        2) proper intersection design with proper line of sight, which’ll give everyone ample time to see eachother in a vast majority of the time
        3) a bufferzone between the pedestrian/cyclist crossing and the actual intersection, which’ll give the driver the possibility to concentrate on a single thing at a time (pedestrians/cyclists, or cars entering the intersection, instead of both at the same time, meaning something will at some point be missed)
        4) sufficient distance between the road and the cyclepaths, which’ll remove the threat of an surprise-opened car door, and give a bufferzone for snow during winter, and even give a buffer against things like punctures or health issues causing a car to swerve over, etc
        5) sufficient distance between the bus/tram and the cyclepath at stops, with designated pedestrian crossings akin to what pedestrians face when crossing normal roads, to add a buffer and to try to prevent passengers from bursting out of a bus/tram and straight into the face of a cyclist

        I could go on, but it should be pretty plain to see that designing roads properly will do a lot more than just assuming that training and just redesigning lorries will solve everything.

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  4. Why does Charlie Lloyd quote statistics from Germany as if they’re relevant to good infrastructure?

    The cycleway designs used in Berlin, and elsewhere in Germany, are very poor, especially at junctions, where any protection ends and people cycling are essentially returned to the way carriageway to mix with motor vehicles.

    There’s often this talk of “Northern European countries” as if they’re all as good as each other, but the truth is that cycling provision varies massively between them. No country comes even close to the Netherlands, and there are many poor examples of poor infrastructure in the Netherlands too. (Read David Hembrow’s blog, he doesn’t sugar-coat the truth or ignore the bad stuff.)

    A proper protected junction *can* *almost* eliminate deaths of this kind. There’s always the chance for mistakes or misuse (jumping a red light, for example) leading to a collision, but the chances of this are reduced greatly, far more than training or punishment ever could. That so many people of all ages and abilities use cycleways in the Netherlands without death or injury is proof that the concept is sound.

    It’s true that there are still deaths involving HGVs in the Netherlands, but if you actually look at these cases you’ll see they most often occur where the infrastructure is poor. For example, a couple of years ago there was a famous case of a woman on a bike killed by a turning lorry, and the Prime Minister was close by, so it ended up being big news. I visited the location soon afterwards, and lo and behold – poor infrastructure, no separation at the junction.

    We don’t just want to copy whatever the Netherlands has, we want to copy the best stuff. It’s no good looking to the continent and finding a crap junction and thinking that means good infrastructure isn’t required.

    And it’s no good quoting statistics from Germany, where cycle infrastructure is second-rate at best, and often downright dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We have wide and often empty pavements on many roads. Why not let cyclists use the pavement on one side of the road, pedestrians the other? I would love separate cycle lanes but this option is cheap and quick to implement.

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