Saturday, 26 September 2009

Cyclist seriously injured in Leyton

A CYCLIST has suffered a serious leg injury after being run over. The 26-year-old was riding in Leyton Green Road at 10.45am today (Friday) when he was knocked from his bicycle and went under a passing car.

He was rushed to Whipps Cross University Hospital. Patrick Edwards, of Walthamstow Village, saw the aftermath of the accident. He said: “The man's leg looked like it was hanging off. It looked like it had suffered serious trauma.”

Leyton Green Road regularly features on this blog.

Last year it won the prestigious Waltham Forest crap cycle lane of the year award.

As you can see, it has since been improved!

A few reflections. Firstly, the local paper probably only got to hear about this serious collision because a local resident rang them up and told them. The emergency services are regularly called to car crashes but are under no obligation to tell the local press, which means most road violence goes unrecorded. Even cycling fatalities can pass unnoticed, because the Metropolitan Police can be very slow to release the news, sometimes taking as long as five days. By then the story is of no interest to the media, except to the small local press.

Secondly, I cycled along Leyton Green Road this morning. There was nothing to indicate that there’d been a serious collision the day before. Even when pedestrians and cyclists are killed, the Met can take a week to put up signs asking for help from witnesses.

Thirdly, the cycle lanes on this road are meaningless, because drivers can park anywhere on Leyton Green Road, and do. This means that cyclists are forced out into the centre of the road and have to rely on the good sense of drivers coming up behind them. Unfortunately the streets of Leyton are packed with people driving while texting, chatting on mobiles, speeding, and red light jumping. Drivers themselves are forced into the cycle lane to avoid oncoming traffic in the middle of the road which is itself forced out by vehicles parked in the cycle lane. In short, the cycle lanes on this road are a dangerous farce.

Fourthly, the junction of Leyton Green Road and Lea Bridge Road is a shambles. The so-called ‘improvements’ fizzle out just before the junction, where the cycle lane shrinks, the road surface crumbles, and the Advanced Stop Line for cyclists, though visible, is in a seriously neglected state. Drivers abuse the ASL all day long, secure in the knowledge that Commander Mark Benbow is not interested in enforcing it. This morning (10.50 am) I pedalled into the ASL at red and waited there. In due course I was joined by the male driver of a big flash silver car GU02 AYW – the typical slob London driver, who is contemptuous of such rudimentary facilities as exist for cyclists.

At this junction there is no signalled crossing of Leyton Green Road for pedestrians, even though this is a major crossing point, just down the road from Leyton Sixth Form College. This makes crossing Leyton Green Road a terrifying experience, as drivers turning into it from Lea Bridge Road approach at speed and don’t always bother to signal.

All in all, Leyton Green Road E10 supplies a classic example of why cycling and walking in London remain marginalised , dangerous and often unpleasant activities, in a city where the car is king.

There are various things which could be done to make this road safe and attractive for cycling. You could get rid of all the parked cars, for example. You could turn it into a one-way street with a segregated two-way cycle lane. And the junction with Lea Bridge Road could be redesigned to provide a safe priority crossing for pedestrians and cyclists. However, Transport for London, highway engineers and local authorities continue to prize car dependency and use above all else, so none of these rational options will be adopted.