Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Must Combat Dangerous Lorries to Protect Cyclists

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Must Combat Dangerous Lorries to Protect Cyclists

Article excerpt

Byline: RosamundUrwin

THERE'S a bleak ritual that I wish I never had cause to carry out again. Every time I see -- usually on Twitter -- that a driver has killed an unnamed cyclist on London's streets, I look at the location, the estimated age of the victim and their sex. If they're an older man on a road my father uses, I (paranoid) text him to check he's OK. He does the same with me if it's a younger woman. I know other cyclists who do this too.

For more than six months though, there was a moratorium on this ritual. Then, on Monday lunchtime, the happy run with no cyclist deaths came to an end. A 25-year-old woman was killed by a lorry in Croydon. The driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving and failing to stop. It's not clear yet exactly what happened, but a fellow cyclist who knows the road layout dubbed it "nasty". There's an abrupt end to a cycle path, and a jutting-out pavement that pushes you into traffic.

Her death fits a grim pattern, though. Women make up a disproportionate number of cycling fatalities in London. Since January 2008, according to figures I've collated, 38 per cent of the adult cyclists who've been killed in collisions with vehicles were women, yet Transport for London says we make just a quarter of bike journeys.

But the figures show something else: a much higher proportion of women than men die in crashes with lorries. In fact, it's been almost five years now since a female cyclist was killed by a vehicle other than a lorry. According to Edmund King, the AA's president, a "typical" London cycling death means "a female cyclist killed by a tipper truck turning left". Yet overall, women are less likely to be injured than men, and campaigners say they tend to be more careful on the road. Lorries, then, seem a terrible threat even if you're a long way from being a "Lycra lout". …

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