Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Dangers of city cycling


Everywhere you look London's skyline is changing – and that is even before the capital gears up for the 2012 Olympics.
Emily Thornberry MP is the chair of the Parliamentary All-Party Cycling Group, and she is very concerned about the number of deaths of cyclists caused by large construction lorries.
She investigates why the problem is so great, and what can be done about it.
Emily talked to Reg Wright, whose wife Emma was hit by a construction lorry in King's Cross.
"Her delight in life was really infectious, people loved her. It happened so quick, it is like a door slamming and then it's over."

The driver who killed Emma pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention.
He was given just five points on his licence and a £300 fine.

Blind Spot
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In March, two young cyclists, Amelia Zollner, 26, and Rosie Wright, 24, were killed within days of each other.
Both had bright futures ahead of them. There have been 10 cycling fatalities already this year.
The problem exists because of a blind spot on the left of the driver's cab.
Although under current EU regulations all new lorries must be fitted with a wide-angle blind spot mirror, it is not yet compulsory for older lorries to be retrofitted with them.
Charlie Lloyd is a member of the London Cycling Campaign, working to make these mirrors compulsory on all vehicles.

"It is the most important thing to make cycling safer. Companies say it is down to cost.
"According to the EU it is approximately £100, the same as filling up with a tank of diesel."
Campaigner's success
Cynthia Barlow, whose daughter Alex was hit by a cement mixer truck from Cemex, bought stocks in the company and campaigned for higher safety.
Her work has been very successful; now all their trucks have the EU standard mirrors, and all the London trucks have additional warning stickers, and sensors to warn cyclists when the truck is turning left.
Now with London gearing up to the 2012 Olympics, there is a sudden growth of construction trucks on the roads.
Many of these do not have the proper mirrors. However, the Olympic Delivery Authority says it is down to the government to ensure construction vehicles are retrofitted with these mirrors.
Ministerial viewpoint
Minister for Road Safety Jim Fitzpatrick says, "When it comes to enforcing rules to vehicles on the roads, the ODA is not in a position to do that.
"That is for the government to make regulations and the police authorities to enforce those regulations."
Considering that heart disease and obesity are on the rise in London, it seems that encouraging cycling is the way forward.
Nevertheless, MP Emily Thornberry believes that until these trucks are fitted to EU standards in Britain, as they are in other countries, London's roads are not safe for cyclists.
With thanks to the



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