Railings contribute to Brockley cyclist's death

The South London Press reports that the tragic death of a Brockley woman has prompted Southwark Council to consider the removal of 'safety' railings in Rotherhithe.

It says Nga Diep was killed "when a skip lorry pushed her into railings at the junction of Ilderton Road and Rotherhithe New Road, Rotherhithe. After hitting the railings, the 33-year-old fell under the lorry’s back wheels and suffered massive head and chest injuries."

Local MP Simon Hughes is also quoted as saying:

“I hope the council is positive and speedy in doing something at this junction to remove this danger to cyclists. The railings should be moved to make sure cyclists can leave the road in emergencies.”

Brockley Central has argued for years that similar railings on Brockley Road should be removed after studies have shown that these safety measures can actually make our roads less safe, trapping cyclists and pedestrians, encouraging people to vault them and drivers to speed up because they send the signal 'this road belongs to you.' Across London, Councils are ripping out safety railings in response to the mounting evidence against their use in many situations.

When Council officers and the Deputy Mayor recced the area with us in 2008, they acknowledged that the railings wouldn't be installed today if they didn't already exist. On a recent follow-up visit with the Brockley Cross Action Group, the Deputy Mayor reiterated her view that the question of their removal should be a priority.

Our sincere condolences go to the family of Nga Diep. We hope that Lewisham Council takes action to improve the safety of the roads around Brockley Cross as soon as possible.

40 comments:

Headhunter said...

Ooh, I used to cycle along there to work! A lot of councils have begun removing railings at junctions for this very reason. At the north end of London Bridge all the railings have been removed as they have slong the entire length of London bridge itself.

This of course introduces its own problems in that now more pedestrians can walk out in front of traffic than before, personally I have always found clueless pedestrians walking into the road (whilst texting/on the mobile/searching for something in their handbag/waving at someone on the other side of the road etc etc) a bigger problem than railings, but there we go.

Anonymous said...

Much easier for cyclists to get on the pavement with railings out of the way.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, in the event of a lorry or bus threatening to push them off the road, it could be the difference between life or death.

Deptford Dame said...

@brockley nick: quite right, I recently had to do just that when a lorry turned left in front of me, without indicating. Only my experience warned me that the back end of the truck would likely drag me under as it continued turning; I was lucky that this junction had no railing and I was able to pull the bike up on the pavement to get out of the way. I guess anon is not a cyclist.

Anonymous said...

No, but Im a predestrian who has to get out of the way of cyclists riding on the pavement.

Brockley Nick said...

That really is a churlish and insensitive point to make, given that a woman has died because of the issue raised.

It's also beside the point.

No one is arguing that cyclists should be able to go on the pavement and to suggest that removing railings will lead to a rise in people cycling on the pavements is highly dubious.

Headhunter said...

I have to say though, as both a cyclist and a pedestrian in London, I find myself more frequently almost clipping pedestrians in the road, not looking where they're going, than I do dodging errant cyclists on the pavement when I am walking.

In fact I can't even remember the last time I saw a cyclist on a pavement anywhere, so it doesn't seem a huge threat to civilisation as we know it.

Anonymous said...

They could be replaced by bollards.
The railings on the other side of Brockley are a nuisance too especially with the building work blocking the pathway to the train station.

Lollipop Man said...

Clipping predestrians In the road HH,your supposed to stop with the cars at red lights.

Sue said...

This is something the London Cycling Campaign have long been highlighting.

Some of the excess railings on Ladywell Road/Algernon Road were removed before Christmas, though not quite as many as I'd hoped. We now need a cycle rack or two outside the pub, but I'm working on that.

My understanding was that some of the ones at the junction of Brockley Rd and Wickham Rd were also due to go (the safety audit was done at the same time as the Ladywell Rd one) - did that happen?

Headhunter said...

I do Lollipop Man, I do. I'm talking about the peds who literally wander out into traffic without looking. To be fair on them, I assume they're crossing the road using their ears only, listening for cars and because most bikes (well maintained bikes anyway) are nearly silent, they get clipped when they walk out without using their eyes.

Try cycling in London, you'll see what I mean - suicidal pedestrians - they're everywhere

Hugh said...

Headhunter is right. If I had a quid (or another bullet) for every brainless pedestrian who's stepped into my path as I move with awesome pace across the city's map, silent, effortless, supreme...

M said...

Sue,
I thought it odd that the railings on only one side of Algernon Rd were removed - did they give a reason?
Ladywell definitely looks better now - shame they all couldn't go.

Brockley Nick said...

@Hugh, HH - please let's not turn this into another cars v bikes v pedestrians discussion, particularly in the circumstances.

@Sue - the plan was always to remove the Ladywell ones first, then Brockley Road was supposed to be next on the list. The Brockley Cross tour was an opportunity to remind officers that Brockley Road is in urgent need of attention.

I may follow-up and ask when that is timetabled for.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Headhunter said...

OK Nick. On the subject of cycling though, I went out with Dulwich Paragon last weekend for the 1st time since my crash in Nov. Was good to be back for a decent run. Sorry, couldn't resist mentioning. Back to railings...

ppp said...

What a beautiful woman Nga Diep was, may she rest in peace.

I'll need to get some up to date statistics, but the amount news reports from the past year suggest that female cyclists seem to bare the brunt of fatalities.

ppp said...

*bear

Anonymous said...

On the cycle rack outside the pub Sue,you can get done for cycling under the Influence too.

drakefell debaser said...

I may be wrong but I think the statistic is to do with left turning lorries rather than fatalities as a whole.

If it is fatalities as a whole then that is quite perplexing because, on my route at least, female cyclists are far more safety conscious than some of the vigilante types (always blokes) who jump lights, ignore pedestrian crossings and so on.

Anonymous said...

YOU MAKE IT SOUND AS IF THIS HAPPENED LAST WEEK... IT'S ALMOSTt TWO YEARS OLD. "A coroner’s inquest in October 2008 returned a verdict of accidental death."

Sue said...

@M: the reason the safety audit recommended keeping the railings on the other corner of Algernon was due to the steep kerb. At some point (we were promised it months ago, but last year and this year's bad weather has delayed a lot of scheduled highways works) they are supposed to be sorting out the drainage problem by Village News, which is causing the big puddle there. Not sure whether that might address the issue of the height of the kerb drop or not too.

@anon: indeed you can, in fact my grandad got done for that family legend has it. You can cycle to the pub and wheel it home though. They can be quite handy to lean on when walking home if you've had one too many . . . (definitely not official party policy!)

Tamsin said...

@ Anon. Please don't shout. We're still talking about what is a personal tragedy for her friends and family, albeit one that is two years old as you say. The scandal is that only now are the changes being made to ensure that something similar does not happen again, and the relevance is that similar steps could and should be taken at danger points in Ladywell and Brockley.

M said...

I see. Thanks Sue.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Sue, but who's going to walk when they can ride,and I know loads of people who do It unfortunately.

Headhunter said...

DD - I read somewhere, will try to dig out an article, that female cyclists are more likely to be involved in accidents precisely because they obey the rules of the road.

Apparently male cyclists are more likely to take a more dominant position on the road, further away from the curb in the traffic and ride more assertively whereas female riders are more likely to adopt a "don't mind me, I'm not really here" attitude, fitting themselves snugly against the curb which means they have no escape in emergencies.

At red lights, apparently women are more likely to stop as the law dictates, even if this means they are right up next to an HGV and essentially invisible, whereas male riders will jump the red or position themselves over the white stop line ahead of the HGV or other motor traffic and are therefore impossible to ignore. Some believe this red light jumping actually saves their lives. I have to say this is correct in my experience and I will always jump through reds if nothing is coming and no peds are crossing rather than get mixed up in traffic leaving a junction which is often very dangerous.

In terms of preventing cycling acidents I really believe that instead of councils investing in pointless little strips of green tarmac on the roads ("cycle lanes") which stop and start at random and usually have cars parkes on them, that local authorities (or whoever is responsible) should take this money and invest in filter lights which give cyclists a green light before motor traffic. Pedestrians have the "green man" but somehow cyclists are thrown in with motor traffic and one of the most dangerous points is when traffic is grouped closely together waiting for a green light.

Most motorists appear to be more interested in what the car in front is doing, or whether the bus ahead is stopping etc rather than what the cyclist sitting alongside them is up to. Filter lights for cyclists would alow cyclists to get away from junctions ahead of all motor traffic and would surely save lives.

We are already seeing recognition that traffic lights at junctions are essentially designed for motor traffic and not cyclists in that a law is soon to be passed allowing cyclists to turn left on red lights (if the way is clear).

IMO we need to have some recognition that cyclists have more in common with pedestrians in that they are relatively slow moving and vulnerable than they have in common with 2 tonnes + of steel and glass travelling at 30mph+.

Our current road system is set up for lorries, cars and vans and NOT cyclists (roads which are paid for by all council taxpayers not through "road tax", before we get the "you don't pay road tax" rubbish), I'm not necessarily saying that we need to rip the whole thing up and start again, but with a few tweaks things cuold be a lot better.

Headhunter said...

As for cycling whilst drunk, you can't get done under the same legislation that motorists can, the Police can stop you for "cycling furiously" or something, if they feel you are a danger to yourself and others.

Tamsin said...

Those do sound relatively simple tweaks. Too simple to appeal to the designers, planners and contractors who have a vested interest in the complex that they can put their mark upon.

Although, having said that, simple tweaks that have already happened are the incresing number of junctions where the motor traffic is supposed to stop about three yards short of the line with space in front of them designated for cyclists. Of course more honoured in the breach than the observance.

Matt-Z said...

Plenty of people go to pubs and drink little or no alcohol these days. For good or for bad most pubs have changed, and that includes many of our locals (Ladywell Tavern, Honor Oak, Brockley Jack, Jam Circus etc). The client base is no longer solely heavey drinkers, especially during the day. you're more likely to find people having a one pint/glass of wine, or even a coffee. Thus a bike rack is a fine idea.

Also, even if I wasn't going into a pub I'd be more likely to chain my bike up outside it than on a dark railing or signpost on a side street.

Matt-Z said...

@ Headhunter - good post.

@ Tamsin - on my commute I find that the worst culprits for stoping in the advance stop lines are motorbikes.

Headhunter said...

ASL boxes (the green boxes at the head of junctions) are completely pointless as most cabbies and white van men completely ignore them and as Matt points out, if it's not them, it's a crowd of mopeds and motorcyclists.

I've taken to jumping the entire ASL and positioning myself on the other side of the pedestrian crossing so I'm well ahead of the melee of traffic. However a policeman pulled me over in the City for doing this. When I pointed out that it had been impossible for me to get into the ASL box he said that I had to wait there anyway (yes, err, how?!). I asked if he was going to do something about the motorists and moped riders in the ASL he mumbled something about having taken their numbers which was complete cr@p because as I crossed the junction on green he was specifically watching me and absolutely no one else. Cyclist = soft target.

Anyway he didn't fine me or anything but I wrote to the City Police asking why they prefer to stop cyclists outside the ASL box, simply trying to position themselves safely, rather than motorists in the ASL box and the reply, in so many words, said that the City Police will never stop motorists or moped riders in ASL boxes as they do not believe the fines and points on license is a fair punishment when cyclists "only" get a £30 fine. I can post the text of the letter.

So there we have it. The City police (and I believe the Met as well, judging from experience) will never enforce ASLs as they do not believe the punishment fits the crime, essentially rendering the investment councils have made in ASL boxes an utter waste which is why something firmer and more easily enforced like filter lights will be much, much more effective.

Pete said...

Well that's an outrage right there HeadHunter.

I'm feeling a petition on the No.10 site coming on.

Put up the text of the letter please.

Anonymous said...

HH - that's extraordinary! Sounds like excellent ammunition for a campaign.

Anonymous said...

And cyclists would rather hit a pedestrian than a lorry any day.

Anonymous said...

If railings are removed there needs to be at the very least 4 cylce racks introduced. I often find that railings are the only place to lock a bike.

Headhunter said...

It's a long letter so I don't think all of it will fit in a comment on Blogger but here is a telling paragraph:

"I have regularly met with representatives from Transport for London, and there is a growing view that the penalty for a driver, for entering an ASL, of 3 points on the driving licence and a £60 fine is disproportionate to the actual offence, and the penalty for such is being reconsidered and may be brought in line with those of a cyclist, namely just a fine. I believe that this will result in greater enforcement activity as it may allow TfL to remotely enforce these junctions (with cameras), which will subsequently lead to greater compliance from drivers."

The sentence "I believe this will result in greater enforcement" is very telling. So, unless penalties for a motorist entering an ASL box is "brought in line", then what, no enforcement will take place? It seems so.

The letter goes on to state some irrelevant rubbish about fining motorists who do not wear their seatbelts etc etc, blah, blah, blah...

Marmoset said...

@HH,

Was this the link you were referring to (9 Feb, 10:05)- it cites the TfL study's conclusion that women suffer disproportionately from such accidents because they are more law-abiding?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8296971.stm

Headhunter said...

Yeah that's the article I remember

Sue said...

@Headhunter: Please can you e-mail me a scan of that letter and I will forward it on to Jenny Jones AM who sits on the MPA at well as the London Assembly's transport committee? She's good at flagging up cyclists' concerns with the police and would love to get her teeth into that, I suspect.

Headhunter said...

Sue - I've emailed it to your Lewisham.gov.uk address. Is that OK?

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