Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Mind that cyclist

CatrionaI have been in two minds about whether to blog this on here since Monday because its something that happenned in a different part of London, but its affected me having been on the fringes of it and hey this is my blog after all.

Its increasingly relevant to Shepherd's Bush anyway - the safety of the ever growing number of cyclists on our roads.

On monday morning I came out of Stockwell tube as normal on my way to work. I actually stopped to marvel at the crowd of cyclists at the junction - for some reason, probably the fact that south London doesnt have a very good tube network, they have absolutely loads of morning cyclists down there. Much more than north of the river.

One of those cyclists never made it to the office that day though. no more than about 5 minutes later at 0835 she was dragged under the wheels of a lorry turning left and tragically died outside Oval tube.  I had heard many more police sirens than normal and so logged into a local blog down there I use sometimes, only to find this. Her name was Catriona and tributes have been paid to her on a London cyclists discussion site here.

I ride around W12 quite a lot doing local errands and just getting around and although we have plenty of crap drivers it usually seems fairly safe. But every morning leaving the gym and crossing the road to get to Bush tube I wonder at those cyclists actually using the Shepherd's Bush roundabout - its got 4 lanes for crying out loud!

If people are going to be that foolhardy then I guess there's not much you can do but should we not have some kind of green lane for cyclists at least on both sides of the Green?

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Several of you have been in touch to point me to this cyclist incident map for H&F - it is truly unbelievable. "Incidents" involving cyclists are represented by blue dots across the borough. Yuo can barely see a single road that doesnt have blue dots.

THURSDAY UPDATE: The partner of the lorry driver involved in the fatal accident has posted a very personal and moving statement on a cyclist blog. It reads as follows: "My partner was the driver of the lorry which was in the accident on monday where sadly a woman cyclist died. I have read all the posts about this and some have been quite upsetting as a lot of comments have been way off the mark. My partner had not been drinking all night, he was safely tucked up in bed at 9pm watching TV with a cup of tea. He is an experienced HGV driver of 20 years and has never had an accident. The cyclist came up on his left side and has said he simply did not see her, he did check his mirror but she was in his blind spot. I have researched this and a lot of accidents have happenned this way. He was arrested, this would be normal practice after an accident of this nature, the police are now conducting an investigation. He is traumatised and our lives will never be the same again. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this terrible time." Full post here.

FRIDAY UPDATE - Tonight's Standard carries a moving tribute to his wife from Catriona's husband here. This has dominated my thoughts for the week, hence lack of postings on other subjects. Hope you understand.

12 JULY UPDATE - Catriona's family have set up this charity fundraising site in her memory www.justgiving.com/anish-patel/


  1. Locally there is a feeling about the area you are talking about.

    there has been a lack of design thought it seems.

  2. chrisunderwood30 June 2009 at 23:47

    Thanks Viv fior the link. I'm going to lay some flowers outside Oval tomorrow. Surely if Catriona's death inspires some measures that prevent other incidents thats the best way to respond. And how much do bike lanes cost anyway?

  3. Bike lanes often seem only to cost the price of a can of paint but there is often no real provision, and the lane is narrow and ends abruplty because there is not a proper plan of route.

    Have you had a look at the zone G proposals? Exhibition at W12 shopping centre Saturday 4th 10 - 4pm with the project team. Not cycling related I know, but you seem to care about the area so I would be intersted in your comments.

  4. This was a terrible, tragic event but in a way mundane as it could happen practically anywhere in London - there is just not enough provision for cyclists and they are not prioritised. The junction at the Oval was redesigned only a few years ago and is very confusing. Just like the Stockwell Memorial Gardens roundabout, it seems to have made things worse for everyone.

    Shepherds Bush, where I lived many years ago, no doubt has some of the same problems.

  5. I wouldn't describe a cyclist commuting in London as "foolhardy". I am unaware of the circumstances of her death (was she at fault? Entirely the driver's fault?), but automatically blaming the victim does not help. Cycle lanes can be even deadlier if planned stupidly, as they often are.Some routes are more dangerous than others, some roundabouts more suicidal than others. We all take our chances and wish for the best when we leave home every morning, but that does not make us "foolhardy".

  6. chrisunderwood27 July 2009 at 16:10

    Mariano - read what I wrote again - my comment about being foolhardy was in reference to the cyclists I see dicing with death every morning on Shepherd's Bush roundabout (also known as Holland Park roundabout - the big one with four lanes that leads to a 50MPH road on the first turning)
    Anyone using that roundabout on two wheels in my view is foolhardy - fine to disagree but I wasnt saying all cyclists were daft, in fact I was calling for more protection for them.

  7. [...] 26, 2009 by chrisunderwood Following this post, I wanted to help in some way with the appeal for information that Catriona’s husband has [...]

  8. New legislation means newly manafactued HGVs are fitted with more mirrors to counter blind spots and hopefully reduce incidents. It does not prevent all blind spots though. I too am unaware of the full details of this tragedy. As a cyclist you do need eyes everywhere. It is dangerous on the roads. Education is also key to reducing accidents.

  9. [...] of you expressed your concern about the dangers posed to cyclists in and around Westfield after this tragedy, I asked John Griffiths from H&F Cyclists for his views, almost as a ‘right to [...]