Another death at Bow roundabout. Are we angry yet?

The article below is a call to attend a protest at Bow roundabout from 6pm tonight.

I’ve previously criticised these things for being too mild, for not causing the kind of disruption – and grabbing the kind of headlines – that the Dutch did in the 1970s.

If a “die-in” is to occur then tonight is probably as good a time as there ever will be.

A black-and-white photo of hundreds of people and their bikes laying on a wide road in Amsterdam

Safer streets campaigners stage a die-in outside Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum in the mid-1970s.
Taken from Mark Wagenbuur’s video “How The Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths“, which I insist you watch now. (I don’t know where the original photo is from.)

If it hadn’t been for the people in the photo above doing what they did, the Netherlands wouldn’t have the great cycling conditions it has today. Now it’s our turn.

 


 

The details of today’s cycling death at Bow roundabout are not clear yet. All we know is it involves a left-turning lorry (again).

But one thing which is very clear is that TfL’s changes to the layout here are sub-standard. They are not good enough, and they were warned about this.

Despite the addition of blue paint and a bit of kerb, the primary function of Bow roundabout is to handle a huge number of motor vehicles. Anything else must be fitted around this core premise. This must change.

Even walking around this area on foot is awful, as there are no pedestrian crossing signals. You merely have to guess the best time to cross, hoping that the traffic lights are red and won’t change while you’re in the middle.

How are people expected to get around here? Clearly it isn’t suitable for someone who can’t move fast, as even on foot you have to stay alert and nimble.

The message is clear: if you want to travel here, get a car. Are we surprised that two thirds of motor journeys in London are under 3 miles long?

Today’s death is a shock, a wake-up call, a headline-grabber.

But what of the thousands who die due to air pollution caused by all those easily-cyclable motor vehicle journeys? (See here, here and here.)

What about the pensioners who don’t leave their homes because it’s too stressful to get around?

What about the mothers who don’t let their children play outside for fear of an “accident”?

What about Britain’s high rate of childhood obesity and heart disease caused by lack of activity?

This is about more than just cycling. This is more than just a “cyclists” protest.

For every shocking collision there are thousands of untold stories of harm caused by our motor-centric towns and cities. It’s a tragedy on a national scale.

The way we’ve designed the areas we live gives most people little choice but to use a motor vehicle, as the alternatives are too unpleasant or unsafe to consider. This must change.

Another “always stop” cycle light at Bow roundabout won’t cut it. We need to create safe space for cycling, and safe space for walking, and safe space for prams and pushchairs and wheelchairs and Zimmer frames and tartan zip-up trolley bags.

We need space that isn’t subservient to those using motor vehicles, space which allows and encourages other modes of transport.

So please do come down tonight. It’s a sad day, but also an angry one.

As the Dutch might say, “stop de moord”.


 

It turns out that iBikeLondon was writing a similar post, which includes more details of tonight’s protest. He rightly points out that we’ve been hearing promises from the Mayor and his associates for far too long. The time for action is now.

 

 

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Another death at Bow roundabout. Are we angry yet?

  1. I’m angry. I live in Sheffield and we couldn’t dream of mustering the numbers here that you mustered in London today. Good for you that made it there, and condolences to all those who have lost loved ones.
    I urge everyone to remember that we (cyclists) are all in it together, this is not a London problem but a nationwide problem.

    • inge

      Would it be an idea to have demonstrations nationwide on the same say??
      And not just for cyclist but pedestrians as well. They too are in the danger zone whenever they go outside , many are killed each year. This should not be just about cyclepaths .
      A livable city would have to be be as safe as possible for everyone and with a better infrastructure even motorists would be safer.

  2. BClarke

    Stop Murdering Our Children

  3. Angus H

    Yes.

    All the more so when I realise that this whole situation could be resolved in a matter of very few years by a politician who had the courage to do so.

    The details don’t matter. Car-dependency and the culture of cars in cities must be tackled head-on. Step up to the plate and do that, everything else falls in to place. Fail to do so, and every shitty little 80cm strip of blue paint and 20mph zone becomes a battle bogged down in consultations and red tape.

    50-60% of households in many boroughs don’t own a car at all. Of the other 40-50%, there are plenty who’d willingly give it up if they could see a way to do so.

    While it should be acknowledged that private cars weren’t directly responsible for any of the four fatalities in London this week, it’s private convenience-motoring that drives the cavalier attitude to safety demonstrated by traffic engineers’ politician bosses (Capacity Uber Alles) and commercial vehicle operators; it’s private cars clogging up most of the road space which could be used to keep healthy, zero-carbon personal mobility & essential motorised commercial traffic safely seperated.

  4. Pingback: A very British protest | The Alternative Department for Transport

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