Despite recognising the health benefits, time saving and sheer fun of cycling in London, people continue to say they are put off by fear. Not surprisingly, of the 60 per cent of journeys around the City of London that could be undertaken by bike or foot, only 30 per cent actually are. The less people use their feet and bikes, the more dangerous the roads become.
Enter Deputy London Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross, David Lawes, Chief Superintendent, City of London Police and Simon Bradbury, Senior Strategy & Planning Manager, TfL, all of whom confirmed this week their commitment to making London safer for all road users.
Introduced by Olympian James Cracknell, himself a victim of an horrendous accident when he was hit by a truck travelling at 70mph in the US, these senior policymakers told the audience at this year's Safer in the City event, hosted by Fieldfisher, that it was imperative to protect those people most vulnerable on the roads, namely pedestrians and cyclists.
Olympic paratriathlete Andy Lewis, who had won gold in Rio two days before, added his video message of support for the campaign.
Val Shawcross said she and London Mayor Sadiq Khan will not tolerate the death of road users and will not stop until they reduce further the number of casualties on London's roads. 80 per cent of casualties on the roads are those so-called 'vulnerable' road users. The Mayor's strategy is based around a healthy streets approach, Ms Shawcross said, whereby people feel safe adopting active transport – walking, cycling and using public transport – vital for a modern city such as London.
David Lawes added that he would take a data-driven approach to target the road users that cause the most harm. 14 per cent of all cyclist collisions, he said, were with heavy vehicles, making it imperative to target the disproportionately high effect of "the power few". Without blaming pedestrians and cyclists, he described them as "high harm victims" in the battle for the roads.
TfL's Simon Bradbury said that inappropriate speed, distraction, drink and drugs and non-compliance were the most important driving activities to eradicate through law enforcement and education.
Other members of the panel included Cynthia Barlow, Chairman of Roadpeace, who told the heart-breaking story of her daughter's death on the roads, and Steve McNamara, Secretary of the Licenced Taxi Driver's Association, who welcomed TfL's decision to distinguish between black cabs and private hires in next year's collision statistics.
Personal stories always resonate strongly at these campaign events organised by the City of London. The audience today were stunned to hear from a victim of a hit and run accident last year that out of the 6,000 hit and run accidents on London's roads last year, there were almost zero convictions.
Fieldfisher's specialist serious injury team continues to support cyclists and pedestrians involved in road traffic accidents. It's our sincere hope that this area of the firm's work declines rather than grows in the coming months.
Safer in the City's Protecting Our Road Users on 12th September 2016 was organised by The City of London Road Danger Reduction Team in conjunction with Roadpeace and Fieldfisher.