Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

Southwark News Column: London's roads must be made safer for cyc

Tragically yet another cyclist has been killed this time in Camberwell after being hit by a lorry at a busy junction between Albany and Camberwell Road. Richard Muzira was the sixth cyclist to die on London’s roads within a fortnight. First and foremost his death is a tragedy for his family and friends but six deaths in the same month is a warning sign that we must do something.

I want to see London being a safe place for cyclists. Safe cycling is good healthy exercise, is cheaper than public transport and cuts congestion and pollution. Goods need to be delivered in London, and that means lorries, but we can’t let this tragic death toll of cyclists go on.

To sort this out we need all the authorities to work together much better than we are at the moment. The Mayor of London, London Councils, MP’s and London Assembly Members - we all need to come together to make cycling safer. I’ve called on the Mayor of London and London Councils to jointly convene a summit to decide on the action to keep London’s cyclists safe.

Cyclists will sometimes make decisions on the road that are risky for themselves and also for pedestrians – jumping red lights, not signalling, or moving across fast-moving traffic in an unexpected way. But we can’t solve the problem of cycling safety by blaming cyclists. Nor should we stigmatise all lorry drivers. What we need is sensible, evidence based solutions.

I strongly back Southwark Council’s call for a ban on HGV’s for one hour during the morning and evening rush hours – a ‘safe cycling hour’ without lorries on the roads. One in five cyclist deaths involve lorries even though lorries are only 6% of traffic on the roads. Fourteen cyclists have died this year; nine involved with HGV’s. We’re already seeing evidence that some people are stopping cycling to work because of fear for their safety. A rush hour lorry ban would give confidence to people who are not cycling now because of their safety.

Labour wants to make cycling safer in the capital and throughout the country. We have put forward a 10 point plan that includes tough new safety rules for HGVs and if Labour wins the 2015 election we will legislate to make these safety features compulsory.

Cycling is a good thing – it keeps people healthy, cuts down on traffic jams and pollution, and it’s a cheap way to travel. We should be encouraging and helping cyclists; not making them pay with their lives.


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