diamond geezer

 Saturday, November 19, 2011

Last night, mid rush hour, hundreds of cyclists converged on the Bow roundabout for a candlelight vigil. They'd turned up because, one week earlier, Svitlana Tereschenko had died in a bike accident on the eastern side of the roundabout. And they'd turned up because, three weeks earlier, Brian Dorling had died in a bike accident on the western side of the roundabout. Both were entering the roundabout, both were hit by a left-turning tipper lorry. One roundabout, two distressingly similar deaths - not really what was intended when Cycle Superhighway 2 reached Bow in the summer.

The vigil had been organised by the Tower Hamlets Wheelers, an august body of local biking enthusiasts, here to pay their respects. They'll have been very pleased with the turnout, if not for the reason it was necessary. So many turned up that the only safe place to congregate was the centre of the roundabout - the bleak central circle where normally nobody goes. They surrounded themselves with candles, laid out in a flickering arc on the concrete. They draped a banner across a pile of Skanska barriers ("Safer Junctions For All"). And they stuck posters on the traffic lights where passing drivers could clearly see them ("Two deaths too many"). Too late for Brian and Svitlana, but maybe timely enough to prevent a third E3 casualty.

All ages of cyclist turned up for the vigil, some on their first ride along the Superhighway. A lot were in bright yellow fluorescent jackets - taking no chances on this dark East End night. Brian Paddick was here - the Lib Dem Mayoral candidate - as well as Rushanara Ali - the local MP. So too was Debbie Dorling, widow of the first CS2 victim. It must have been tough returning to the site of her husband's death, again, but immensely reassuring to see how many people cared.

On Brian's side of the roundabout, outside McDonalds, a ghost bike has appeared. A pure white chassis, plus a "Remember Me" tag on the lamppost - a stark reminder of mortality beneath the sodium glare. The flowers here have been refreshed, now pert bright blooms, with the toppermost roses dedicated "in memory of my dear husband". There's a larger collection of flowers on Svitlana's side, plus a haunting full-colour portrait, laid out along the wall to mark the more recent death. Here too a line of candles, the largest burning brightly in an empty jar of crunchy peanut butter. Even an hour after the vigil had packed up and ridden off, cyclists were still turning up to read the cards on the tributes and to pay their respects.

And we have a result, of sorts, as TfL have pledged to reassess the Bow Roundabout and report back to the mayor on "as a matter of urgency." He'll listen this time, unlike the team who installed CS2 in the first place. The pre-construction report from the Jacobs consultancy warned of dangerous traffic flow and proposed that toucan crossings be built to ease westward and eastward travel. As it turns out those two toucan crossings might have saved one life each, had they been built, which other priorities determined they were not. It is of course over-simplistic to cherrypick consultants' reports after a series of tragic events, and to claim that they could obviously have been prevented. But either lack of money or the smoothing of traffic flow took precedence, and cyclists received merely lip service rather than protection.

TfL have also promised to review all the junctions on the existing cycle superhighways, which would be a massive undertaking if done properly, and one fears that any review will be either glacially slow or superficially cursory. There's also no commitment to investigate the sections of superhighway between junctions, which means those pathetic half-blue shared lanes will continue, and continue to be rolled out elsewhere. It's not best practice, but in these times of austerity apparently it'll do. Only at Bow do I think we can guarantee action, because a road junction which kills your electorate isn't a vote winner. Something'll happen here, before the Olympics, because the force of public opinion has made its voice heard. But whether it'll be cosmetic tweaks or life-saving transformation, that's yet to be seen.

» London Cycling Campaign report on the vigil (with photos)
» Just Giving collection in memory of Brian Dorling

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream