The start of a new week did not bring any respite from the current spate of fatal incidents involving cyclists on London’s road. Five deaths between the 5th and 13th of November has left many cyclists in the Capital in a mixed state of fear and anger. The unwelcome news today that a 60 year old man had been killed by in a collision with a lorry in Camberwell has further fuelled the loudening calls for real change. Nine of the fourteen deaths in 2013 have involved HGV’s.
Anger in the cycling community is being directed both at London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and, more recently, at the police. Johnson, a keen cyclist himself and instigator of London’s communal cycle-hire scheme, is being accused of victim-blaming by highlighting risk-taking cyclists who don’t follow the letter of the law, and of not taking immediate action to address the dangers of large industrial vehicles sharing London’s road network with cyclists. The Metropolitan Police caught the anger of cyclists today after going out in large numbers to stop cyclists during the morning commute and ‘advise’ them to wear helmets and high-vis jackets. The Met were also stopping and speaking with HGV drivers in an aim to give road safety advice to all road-users but again the feeling is that the root cause of the deaths is being ignored.
I wrote about the last spate of deaths back in late June/early July and how it had made me question commuting by bike in London. I felt the same early last week when three people had been killed in just a few days. Tonight though I feel different. I feel as though I need to keep cycling to help get the change needed. I don’t feel like giving up and turning away. One death is too many but this has gone far too far now. The vigils, petitions, protest rides and general shouting about the issue must go on, of course. But, in light of the perceived indifference which greeted last week’s efforts, it’s obvious that much more is needed. Calls for direct action always need to be carefully weighed and balanced but I for one would support Jenny Jones’ suggestion of a month of rush hour Critical Mass gatherings at a prominent junction. And that should just be the beginning. Change is needed. Fast.
Enough is Enough – It’s time to take a real stand.
Apologies for the insensitive title of this post but it is exactly how I feel right now.