Injuries surge at cycle lane hailed by Jeremy Vine for road safety
Injuries suffered by cyclists in a cycle lane hailed by Jeremy Vine for improving road safety have surged since its opening, analysis of Transport for London (TFL) data reveals.
Three cyclists were seriously hurt on the Safer Cycle Pathway in King Street, Hammersmith, west London, last year - equivalent to the total number of cyclist injuries in the three years before the bike lane opened.
The one-mile route also recorded an increase in slight injuries after 10 cyclists had minor collisions - more than double the number in 2019, before the lane was created.
The full extent of casualties is likely to be higher, because TfL’s collision data for 2022 is currently only available for just eight months to August.
Now road safety campaigners say they fear bi-directional bike routes - where cyclists travel both ways on a single route - can pose crash risks at junctions.
A serious injury is classified as requiring lengthy hospitalisation from broken or crushed bones, internal injuries, severe cuts or concussion. A slight injury includes whiplash and cuts.
Two of last year’s serious injuries involved bikes and cars colliding at junctions. The third cyclist suffered major injuries in a three-bike pile-up.
John Franklin, a consultant in cycling safety, said the junctions where the crashes occurred appeared to have “bad sightlines”.
He added that some “less experienced” cyclists could feel a “false sense of safety” when in a cycle lane.
The King Street cycle path - from the Goldhawk Road junction to the Hammersmith Broadway gyratory - now allows cyclists to travel in both directions, despite much of the road being one-way for cars.
This has led to fears some motorists may fail to look both ways at junctions, because it is one-way for cars.
The council has placed road signs at junctions warning of the bi-directional bike lane.
The King Street route, part of the £12 million Cycleway 9, was praised by Mr Vine, a BBC broadcaster and keen cyclist, because cyclists now use it “confidently” after a roundabout used to be like “a scene from Ben Hur”.
Simon Munk, of the London Cycling Campaign, urged London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham to “urgently look at what’s going on at the junctions where collisions are happening and fix the issues”.
Last year the Hammersmith Society, which campaigns to improve the borough’s environment, gave the cycleway its “Wooden Spoon” award, because it had been introduced in a “costly and inefficient way” without public consultation and caused “pollution and delays”.
A TfL spokesman said the numbers of people using the cycle lane had doubled compared with 2017, but that further safety improvements are “ongoing”. There is also “not yet enough data to draw reliable conclusions”, said the spokesman.
A spokesman for the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, which worked with TfL on the cycle lane, said safety remained a “huge priority” and the route would be continually monitored.
“The Safer Cycle Pathway provides shorter waiting times and greater space at junctions for cyclists,” he said.
“For junctions on King Street without traffic signals, the design aims to slow traffic and maximise visibility.”
A 2020 council focus group survey, released following a Freedom of Information request, shows residents had a “generally negative reaction” to the planned cycle lane - which cuts the two-lane, one-way road to just one lane - because it would lead to “cars trapped in traffic [so] will emit pollution for longer”.
Others made “various complaints about the behaviour of cyclists, both around cars - and to a much greater extent - pedestrians”. Some called for “anti-social cycling” to be tackled with “greater enforcement”.
The document, which began by noting how the council boasts of being “committed to ‘doing things with residents, not to them’”, said “no one in the groups indicated that [a cycle lane] would encourage them to change [to cycling]”.