Save our cyclists: Clamour for flood of avoidable road deaths to be stemmed

A growing toll of casualties, many involving lorries, has prompted urgent calls to make Britain's roads safe for cyclists

Urgent action is needed to protect cyclists from lorries and buses, with 230 cyclists killed or seriously injured every month on Britain's crowded roads, campaigners say.

Legislation requiring hauliers to fit the 450,000 lorries in Britain with sensors and emergency braking systems is being examined in Brussels following intensive lobbying by relatives of a young woman killed when she was dragged under the wheels of a HGV as it turned without the driver noticing her in the vehicle's "blind spot".

But a spate of deaths in London this year, and a growing toll of casualties nationwide, has prompted demands for better education of lorry and bus drivers, as well as cyclists themselves. Last year, 3.1 billion miles were cycled in the UK – a 4 per cent annual increase – while cycling in the capital has increased by 91 per cent since 2000.

Paula Jurek, a 20-year-old student from Poland, became the latest victim of the clash between cyclists and drivers last week when she was crushed by an articulated lorry on a stretch of road in Camden, north London, known as "death mile". Ms Jurek died from horrific injuries at the scene and the 65-year-old driver of the vehicle was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. On average, 28 cyclists are now killed in collisions with HGVs every year across the UK.

Campaigners called for hauliers to be compelled to buy equipment which alerts drivers if a cyclist pulls up alongside them and brings the vehicle to an automatic halt if there is a risk of a collision. Julie Townsend, of road safety group Brake, said: "Too many trucks pose an unacceptably high risk to people on foot and bicycle. We're appealing to all operators to fit the latest technology to reduce blind spots and we're calling for the law to be tightened up to help prevent more families going through the devastation of sudden, violent deaths and injuries."

The long-term trend had appeared to show improving safety for cyclists, with the number of deaths nationwide falling from an average of 186 in the mid-1990s to 104 in 2009. But concern is growing that the boom in cycling has started to reverse that trend. Provisional Department for Transport figures show 2,700 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads in the year ending June 2010, compared with 2,673 in the previous 12 months.

Advocates of cycling said the health benefits and accident rates per mile meant the advantages of using pedal power still far outweighed the risks.

However, Chris Peck, policy officer for the national cyclists' organisation CTC, said: "Per mile travelled in urban areas, HGVs are over 20 times more likely to be involved in the death of a cyclist than a car or a van."

The problem is not restricted to lorries. A court heard last month how Dorothy Elder, a 22-year-old fashion student, was swept off her bike and under the wheels of a double-decker bus "like a cardboard box". The driver of the bus was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving following expert evidence that her view may have been obscured by cab fittings.

One of the 10 "ghost bikes" now installed around London was put in place by the family of Eilidh Cairns, a 30-year-old television producer who was killed in February 2009 when a lorry driver failed to see her as his vehicle travelled in Notting Hill, dragging her more than three metres before it stopped. Her sister Kate last month won a written declaration by the European Parliament put forward by the Liberal Democrat MEP Fiona Hall, forcing the European Commission to come up with proposals requiring lorry owners to install safety technology. Ms Cairns, 39, said: "The memorial bike is a symbol of remembrance and respect for my sister. It's vital that truck visibility is addressed to prevent more needless deaths."

The Independent understands that Brussels will table changes to pan-European safety legislation by August, while an existing directive requiring all new HGVs to be fitted with cyclist sensors and automatic braking will come into force in 2013.

The haulage industry said it was committed to improving safety for cyclists, pointing out that freight operators had spent £78m since 2008 on retro-fitting mirrors to their fleets.

The Government confirmed this week it is considering the introduction of a new criminal offence of causing death by dangerous cycling following concerns that there is no legislation to deal with riders whose reckless behaviour leads to fatalities.

To support 'The Independent's' campaign for safer cycling, send your stories and suggestions to cyclists@independent.co.uk

Carnage in the cycle lanes

Paula Jurek

The most recent reported victim of Britain's hidden epidemic of cyclist deaths, the 20-year-old student was killed last week in Camden Town, north London, after being knocked over by a lorry. She was described by Paul Dean, a friend she met at a French evening class, as a "kind and open" person who loved travelling and different cultures.

David Poblet

A promising actor who died only days after auditioning for RADA, Mr Poblet, 20, was killed in a collision with a skip lorry in Bermondsey, south-east London, last month. He had appeared in two short films and was on the books of two modelling agencies. He described himself as a "normal boy: not fashionist, keeping his own style".

Dorothy Elder

The 22-year-old Central St Martin's College student was killed by a bus two years ago. The driver, who was cleared of causing her death, said she would "live with what happened for ever". Ms Elder grew up in Devon but was studying womenswear design. According to her sister Natalie, she "joked about making a drama out of anything".

Eilidh Cairns

A 30-year-old television producer, Ms Cairns was killed by a lorry while cycling in Notting Hill, west London, in 2009. Her family have since campaigned for HGVs to be fitted with sensors to reduce the likelihood of such accidents in future. A "ghost bike" at the site of her death was unveiled yesterday, with the Mayor of London's approval.

Nine steps towards safer cycling

The London Cycling Campaign, which promotes safer cycling in the capital, has produced a nine-point-plan for reducing the toll of death and injury among cyclists:

* Enforce speed limits and clamp down on drivers who use mobile phones.

* Crack down on hit-and-run drivers, who account for a large portion of serious road injuries.

* Introduce 20mph speed limits in all built-up and shopping areas of Britain's towns and cities.

* Require all lorries to carry full safety equipment to help them avoid collisions with cyclists: six mirrors, sensors and safety guards. (See www.no-more-lethal-lorries.org.uk/)

* Require organisations which run lorries and other large vehicles to provide their drivers with cyclist awareness training, as already practised in four London boroughs.

* Include a "cycle awareness" section in the driving theory and practical tests

* Allocate more road space to cycling, as has been done in The Netherlands and Denmark, among other places.

* Provide all children with access to Bikeability cycle training, the current version of the Cycling Proficiency test

* Encourage less car use and more. cycling so that, as in The Netherlands and Denmark, collision rates for cyclists are reduced.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Teaching Assistant to work with Autistic students

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: KS2 Teacher needed in Peterborough a...

SEN Learning Support Assistant

£70 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Learning Support Assistants n...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain