Traffic stopped for the Olympic cycling road race but for those who ride on them every day, our roads can be a constant peril. Adam Courtney looks at what is being done.
A RISE in accidents involving cyclists in London has prompted a call for action from campaigners to make the roads of Hammersmith and Fulham more bike-friendly.
Figures from Transport for London reveal the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in the capital rose from 467 in 2010 to 571 in 2011, a jump of 22 per cent.
In Hammersmith and Fulham at least eight cyclists have been knocked down and injured or killed since 2006, with three accidents at the notorious Hammersmith gyratory, including the death of a young woman in April last year.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which believes more cycle journeys are taken within its borders than in any other London borough, says it is committed to improving safety, highlighting a joint project with Transport for London to bring a new cycle superhighway through the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
The wide blue cycle lane is due to be put in place next year – but John Griffiths, of Hammersmith and Fulham Cyclists, argues more could be done, such as introducing 20mph speed limits in busy areas like Hammersmith Bridge, where 18-year-old student Clara Vergez narrowly avoided being crushed after an accident with a car and a lamppost.
He said: “We want to get as many people in the borough cycling as we can so a speed limit there and on the gyratory would help.”
While the group says the superhighway is a step in the right direction, they feel the possible route, which will be rubber-stamped later this year, is flawed.
Mr Griffiths said: “If you were going from west to east from central Hammersmith, the proposed route would take you along the A4, past the Apollo and then to Hammersmith Road. It would be quite a detour for people who would normally use the gyratory. Beadon Road, which needs significant improvements, would be quicker for them.”
London Assembly member Jenny Jones argues that despite championing the cycle superhighways as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, needs to do more.
She said: “This mayor inherited a situation where the total number of casualties had been falling year on year for nine years and under him, that downward trend has reversed since 2008. Now we have more dangerous roads and a mayor who has spent three years promising a road safety action plan which has not been delivered. Boris needs to end the complacency, increase the road safety budget and produce a plan that works for vulnerable road users, not just motorists.”
TfL says it is reviewing cycle safety as a ‘matter or urgency’, while Hammersmith and Fulham Council says it continues to invest in cycle paths, holds cycling training sessions and provides cycle plans for schools.
Despite years of campaigning to get the speed limit reduced at Hammersmith Bridge, the authority says drivers rarely travel over it at more than 20mph.