Cycle safety: Andrew Gilligan in tough questions at London Assembly

Cycle highway along A11 in east London towards Aldgate

Cycle highway along A11 in east London towards Aldgate - Credit: Archant

The controversial cycle super highway network was being debated at the London Assembly today over whether it is more dangerous to riders than safe.

Boris Johnson’s Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan faced the Assembly’s Transport committee over the Mayor’s proposals to extend the new east-west and north-south cycle routes.

The committee wanted to know how they will affect pedestrians, motorists and businesses—and whether the proposals go “too far”. This follows an investigation into cycle safety launched by the Assembly in 2012, after the number of deaths rose to 16 in just 12 months in London, compared to 10 in the previous 12 months.

The worst blackspot was east London’s busy Bow roundabout where the A11 Bow Road crosses the A12 Blackwall Tunnel approach road, where two cyclists died. Three more cyclists were killed last year on the A11 between Whitechapel and Mile End.

A Poplar coroner’s report following the death of French student Philippine de Gerin-Ricard at Aldgate said cyclists wrongly assume they have priority and are lulled into “a false sense of security” on blue-painted routes along busy main roads. Drivers are also often confused over who has ‘right of way’.

London Assembly’s John Biggs, whose east London constituency includes the A11 and A12, called for the Mayor a year ago to undertake to segregate the ‘Cycle Superhighway’ along the A11.

He said at the time: “The Mayor’s unwillingness to segregate the entire route from Aldgate to Bow Roundabout is misguided in the face of the tragedies we have witnessed.

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“The coroner was damning in condemning the cycle highway and the mixed messages it gives cyclists and motorists.”

Councillors at Tower Hamlets last month also criticised cyclists on the blue route along Cable Street, between Tower Hill and Limehouse, who they claimed were causing danger to children coming out of school.