Almost every day there seems to be another report of cyclists being injured by vans and lorries here in Cycling City. Yesterday a Bristol Traffic reporter witnessed the aftermath of such an incident in Ashley Road where a cyclist in her 20s was run over by a left turning lorry.
The day before a 52 year old cyclist was hit by a van on Winterstoke Road and is now reported to have died from his head injuries (yes, he was wearing a helmet). Later on the same day a cyclist in his 20s was run over by a left turning lorry at Old Market. Last Thursday a cyclist in his 30s was run over by a left turning lorry at the bottom of St Michael's Hill. Finally (sadly only for the purposes of this piece) just four weeks ago a cyclist was knocked down by an ambulance at the bottom of Tower Hill.
View Cycle and ped injury incidents in a larger map
We cannot comment on the individual circumstances of these collisions beyond what basic information is given in reports (and even then we must be wary of accepting such reports as accurate). But we can make a few observations about the circumstances that seem to be common (though not necessarily contributory factors) to several of these incidents. Firstly all involved commercial vehicles presumably driven by "professional" drivers. Secondly three involved lorries turning left. Thirdly in most cases there were cycle lanes which it seems the cyclists involved were using.
If my experience is typical then cyclists need to be more wary of "professional" drivers than the average motorist. This applies to many bus and taxi drivers as well as those of vans and lorries. There are many reasons for this - they tend to be driving bigger, wider vehicles, they are under pressure to meet schedules and they tend to be over-confident and blasé, even arrogant. But should we not expect higher standards from "professional" drivers?
Left turning lorries are well documented as a problem for cyclists, especially the younger and inexperienced ones and it seems particularly women (as in yesterday's Cheltenham Road - Ashley Road incident and a string of recent deaths in London). This may be because lorry drivers are negligent about checking their left side for clearance before turning and because inexperienced cyclists have not yet learned to be wary of lorries. But should cyclists have to compensate for what is arguably negligence by the drivers involved?
In many cases cyclists are encouraged to overtake on the inside of potentially left turning traffic by the arrangement of cycle lanes. The Cheltenham Road - Ashley road junction is a classic where cyclists mostly going straight on are funnelled into a cycle lane on the left side of the left turning lane. This so obviously sets cyclists up to be in conflict with motor traffic that one wonders at the sanity of the world, or at least of the so-called 'cycling' officers responsible for it.
Final point - what support are these cyclists getting from Cycling City? If I was running the show the first thing I would do is set up a Cyclists' Support Centre, somewhere where cyclists could drop in and get a sympathetic hearing and practical support in their struggle to assert their right to use the public highway. But as we know almost the first act of Cycling City was to vilify cyclists who rode through red lights and so to fuel the antipathy to cyclists expressed in many of the online comments to the Evening Post reports.
Thanks to Bristol Traffic for the pictures.