Second death on Bow Cycling Superhighway

Clamour grows for redesign of London roundabout

An unnamed female cyclist has become the second person in three weeks to die on a section of the new Barclays Cycle Superhighway from Bow to Aldgate in London.

The accident involving a lorry occurred at about 4.45pm on Friday at Bow Roundabout. The driver has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

Last month, 58-year-old Brian Dorling was killed in a collision with a tipper truck at the same junction on Cycling Superhighway 2. The latest death means 15 cyclists have been killed in London this year, eight of them in accidents involving lorries.

Following Mr Dorling's death, Transport for London (TfL) faced a barrage of criticism from many quarters to the effect that the route went through a well-known danger spot for cyclists.

Commenting on the BBC News website, Mr Dorling's widow, Debbie, described the road layout as "appalling". She said that when she visited the scene to watch a reconstruction of the fatal collision "in 20 minutes three more cyclists were nearly hit", leading her to warn police and traffic engineers that someone else would die unless action was taken.

Mr SR Maynard, friend of Brian Dorling, said in an open letter: "It seems frankly appalling that cyclists are actively encouraged to follow a corporate-sponsored cycle route that leaves them at a junction already and widely known as an accident waiting to happen."

In May this year, mayor Boris Johnson responded to questions from London Assembly member John Biggs (Labour) about safety at Bow Roundabout, saying: "TfL have been unable so far to find an immediate solution for providing controlled crossings at Bow Roundabout that doesn't push the junction over capacity and introduce significant delays to traffic."

Last week, Mr Biggs said: "TfL have previously said that there's nothing that they can do to make the roundabout safer, without causing traffic jams. It's time they bite the bullet and accept longer journey times for motorists in exchange for keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe."

Following the latest fatal accident, we spoke to the London Cycling Campaign, who are calling for an immediate redesign of the junction. Here's what they had to say:

Q: Why do you believe the Superhighway design is so dangerous here?

A: The Superhighway design adopts, at least on the eastbound arm of the junction, what’s commonly called a ghost lane. This is simply a strip of blue paint within an existing vehicle lane and with no white line markings. It isn't a designated cycling space and has no legal status. It's a very weak design that may not cause problems at locations where motor vehicle speeds are low, cycle flows are high or where the junctions aren't designed like motorway slip roads. However, the combination at Bow of a high speed, high volume, large vehicle junction and a cycle route would require either severely restricting motor traffic use or providing strong and highly visible cycle facilities.

Q: What redesign would LCC advocate?

 A: Our best-case scenario would probably be to advocate starting from scratch. The roundabout needs to be designed to drastically reduce vehicle speeds. All cycle manoeuvres need to be catered for and given high visibility and clear priority.

Q: Isn't there an off-road alternative nearby that could be used instead?

A: There's a well-known 'floating' towpath in the area (actually suspended), but that goes north-south whereas the cycle superhighway goes east-west. There are alternative routes but they're circuitous, sometimes blocked by ongoing works for the Olympics and often not suitable at night. The A11 could be a very convenient quick and direct cycle route between Stratford (the Olympic Park) and the City.

CS2 currently ends at the roundabout – Newham Council have refused to allow the continuance of the Superhighway into their area and it won't continue to Olympic Park venues in time for the Games in summer 2012.

Ironically, Friday's accident occurred on the eve of a weekend ride organised by cycling bloggers Danny Williams and Mark Ames that visited what they labelled as the 10 worst sites in London for cycling. 

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