London Cycling Too Dangerous for Me, Police Chief SaysThomas Penny
London’s top policeman, Bernard Hogan-Howe, said he wouldn’t cycle in the U.K. capital because it’s too dangerous.
The Metropolitan Police commissioner, who was speaking after six bike riders died on London’s streets in less than two weeks, said there’s too much traffic for him to feel safe.
“I’ve never been a big bike rider anyway but it seems to me that if you get it wrong, or if the driver gets it wrong, the person that’s going to pay is the cyclist,” Hogan-Howe told the BBC late yesterday. “It seems to me there’s a lot of traffic, and personally I wouldn’t.”
The death of a cyclist in a collision with a truck in Walworth, southeast London, this week brought the number of bike-riders who’ve lost their lives on the capital’s roads this year to 14, the same as in the whole of 2012. The five previous deaths in recent weeks also involved trucks and buses.
“I wouldn’t, but that’s my choice and I can afford not to,” Hogan-Howe said. “But of course some people don’t have the choice; economically it’s not easy.”
Hogan-Howe later issued a statement saying he was not outlining police policy and is committed to the safe expansion of cycling in the U.K. capital.
“I was expressing a personal view as a non-cyclist and I would like to clarify my position,” he said in an e-mail. “There is no doubt that despite the growth of cycling in London, it has got safer and its cost effectiveness and health benefits make it an attractive option for many people.”
London Assembly members attacked Mayor Boris Johnson on Nov. 20 over his policies to encourage cycling, accusing him of not doing enough to speed up measures to introduce segregated cycle lanes. Green Assembly member Jenny Jones said Johnson was “blaming the victims” by saying some cyclists were riding dangerously, such as by wearing headphones.
Hogan-Howe said the work of Johnson and Transport for London, the capital’s roads and transportation agency, to get people cycling safely is “commendable” and that he would like to see the continued growth of bike-riding.
“I will take any opportunity to remind all road users of their responsibilities to use the roads as safely as possible,” he said. “Part of this is acknowledging that there can be dangers.”