Tuesday 21 July 2009

That TfL lorry campaign

A MAJOR campaign has been launched to educate tens of thousands of cyclists on how to avoid being crushed to death by left-turning HGVs on the streets of London.

But what if the problem isn’t the cyclists but the lorry drivers? Most (all?) of the cyclists who have been killed by lorry drivers in London in the past year are not naïve novices but, as far as one can tell, highly experienced, cautious cyclists who are run down while cycling routes they use everyday. Where is the evidence that all those cyclists recently killed by left-turning lorry drivers wilfully undertook them? There is none, that I am aware of. So the whole thrust of this campaign is classic blaming the victim stuff.

The Mayor's transport adviser, Kulveer Ranger, writes

Six cyclists have died in collisions with lorries in the capital this year - five of them women.

So, Kulveer Ranger, a senior figure at TfL, can’t even get the figures right. Seven cyclists have died this year, not six. Of course it’s hardly surprising that TfL can’t get the facts right when most news organisations don’t regard the regular killing of cyclists as in any way newsworthy. And the London Cycling Campaign (‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’) won’t mention them either, on the grounds that this might deter people from taking up cycling. The missing fatality is, of course, María Emma García Fernández, whose death failed to register on a single London or national news site and, bizarrely, was only recorded on this blog and two cycling discussion threads.

A TfL study two years ago found that women are far more likely to be killed by a lorry because, unlike men, they tend to obey red lights and wait at junctions in the driver’s blind spot.

Among those killed this year are Eilidh Cairns, 30, who died in a collision with a lorry at Notting Hill Gate in February.

Now in the first place that’s the report which, as The Times revealed in 2007

was completed last July (2006) but has been kept secret.

Which makes it three years ago, not two. Kulveer’s not very good with figures, is he?

Secondly, juxtaposing those last two sentences is very misleading, because Eilidh Cairns was not killed by a left-turning lorry.

Eilidh was on the right hand side of the lorry that killed her. No witnesses have come forward so we don’t know what happened; it’s possible that the lorry moved out from the left and ran her over from behind.

The TfL campaign blathers about

improving the relationship between cyclists and lorries.

I never have a problem with inanimate objects. It’s lorry drivers who bother me. And there is a mountain of evidence to show that the road haulage industry is founded on widespread driver criminality, which both the government and the police turn a blind eye to.

I am not interested in ‘improving my relationship’ with lorry drivers like this one or this one or this one or this one or this one or this one or this one or this one or this one or this one or this one. I would much rather see them prosecuted for breaking the law.

We will do much more because changing London into a cycling city is about changing the way we feel about cycling. The Mayor’s cycle revolution will make taking to two wheels easier, more accessible and enjoyable. But most importantly it must make it even safer.

Which is where road traffic law enforcement comes in. A subject which remains out of the frame for TfL but which has been authoritatively addressed here.

'Velorution' is also unhappy with TfL's campaign