Two junctions on Tower Bridge Road

This hit and run incident at the junction of Tower Bridge Road and Abbey Street has been featuring in the new recently.

Andrea McVeigh posted on the SE1 forum last week to describe what happened when she and her husband crossed Tower Bridge Road near the Abbey Street junction at about 6pm on Tuesday 14 April.

As they stepped onto the pavement on the western side of the road, a cyclist who was on the pavement collided with Ms McVeigh causing her to fall.

This is an ongoing case; the person cycling still doesn’t appear to have presented themselves to the police so it can be resolved.

But from the version of events we have, it’s plainly not a great idea to have people cycling whizzing about on pavements, especially when it’s not obvious to pedestrians that they might encounter someone cycling on a footway. (In this case – because cycling on this particular stretch of footway is not legal.)

How this incident unfolded; pedestrian crossing the road (red arrow) meets someone cycling (green arrow)

How this incident unfolded; pedestrian crossing the road (red arrow) meets someone cycling on the footway (green arrow)

However, just 200 metres from this junction, a little further south down Tower Bridge Road, Transport for London have designed a junction on a new Quietway between Greenwich and Waterloo that involves… people cycling on the footway.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 00.20.53

People crossing the eastern side of junction on foot, in a north-south direction, will encounter people cycling along the footway, in an east-west direction – a perpendicular conflict on a footway, very similar to the kind of conflict in this hit-and-run incident.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 10.57.19

Yet at this junction with Rothsay Street/Webb Street, just down the road from where the collision involving Andrea McVeigh and the unknown man took place, cycling here will be entirely legal, planned for by this new design.

Quietways like this will (or should) be attracting lots of potential users on bikes. But there’s going to be very little to indicate to anyone crossing the road on foot that the footway on the other side is, effectively, a busy cycle route. It will look like a large area of pavement.

Hit and run collisions involving people cycling on pavements are shocking, but isn’t it just as shocking that we’re designing precisely that kind of conflict into new junctions just yards away?

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13 Responses to Two junctions on Tower Bridge Road

  1. T.Foxglove says:

    The media reports seem to be entirely absent of comments on whether she was wearing hi-vis or a helmet, or if she even performed a ‘lifesaver’ before making her manoeuvre?

    I’m a keen pedestrian and the behaviour of some pedestrians shocks me. They wear dark clothes, cross the road on a red man, weave without indication between stationary vehicles all the time staring at their phones while wearing headphones.

    • pm says:

      I’m guessing your comment is not meant to be taken at face value!

      It’s impossible to say much about the event in the news without know what really happened – but if it did happen on a pavement, then in fairness its not really analogous to car/cyclist conflicts, except for those (not unknown) cases when drivers drive or park on dedicated/mandatory cycle lanes or, indeed, on pavements.

      A pedestrian can’t be expected to prepare for encountering cyclists in places where cycling is actually illegal.

  2. This is a serious incident. People who cycle should be well-placed to understand what it is to be vulnerable. Thoughtless or reckless behaviour that endangers vulnerable pedestrians is as wrong as thoughtless or reckless behaviour that endangers cyclists. Failing to stop after hitting and injuring someone is just as bad from a cyclist as a motorist.
    Whatever the precise details of what happened here (I have only seen press reports), Andrea McVeigh deserves support and I wish her a full and speedy recovery.
    We need to design our roads to reduce the risk of serious injury from clearly foreseeable incidents of bad behaviour and mistakes. Shared-use pavements are generally not good.

  3. TomSustrans says:

    For reasons I have yet to figure out there is enormous resistance to designing separate cycle tracks running behind Pelican / Toucan Crossings. Authorising the “cycle zebra” in new TSRGD may help, but even then will take years to filter through (even though we have one advance design on the ground in Bristol. Until then we’ll continue to see a lot of schemes drawn up with big shared “land areas” even though neither cyclists nor pedestrians want this.

  4. TomSustrans says:

    sorry meant “landing areas” which tends to be the term used to describe these shared areas designed to serve crossing points.

  5. Many pedestrians pay little attention to off road cycle infrastructure. This section near Woking station is a prime example https://twitter.com/A_Marchment/status/540547034596790272

    Everyday I’ll be weaving between pedestrians in the cycle lane, and I have one on occasion had a lady step sideways into my path, pitching me over the bars and landing in the road (thankfully no cars passing) I would suggest that mixing pedestrians and cyclists is more of an issue that mixing cars and cycles as pedestrians feel safe on pavements (even if shared use or split) and do not look out for cycles

    • Pedestrians are generally far less at risk from cycles than cycles are from cars -so it is not unreasonable that cycles should be allowed to mix with pedestrians. But when you cycle amongst pedestrians, whether on a special ‘facility’ or not, you need to take responsibility for going slowly and carefully enough not to hit the pedestrians. They include those who cannot be expected to look out for you: little children, adults with sight loss, hearing loss, poor reaction times, poor balance, dementia, learning difficulties. It is also nice as a pedestrian to be able to relax without constantly worrying whether someone coming up behind you at 20mph will hit you if you don’t behave like a vehicle (looking behind and signalling) before changing direction. This is a significant reason why forcing cycles to share with meandering pedestrians is a bad idea -it makes cycling (for anything more than covering the last few metres to the shops) very slow and inefficient.

  6. rdrf says:

    Another take, if I may.

    This incident involved someone behaving very badly (particularly pretending to be concerned afterwards) and he should be condemned for it.

    I do, however, think that it needs to be mentioned that there are about 2 pedestrian serious injuries in London every day (773 in 2013). You can suggest that at least one of those involves another road user doing something wrong, and in most cases that will be a motorist. Indeed, cyclist involvement will be in the 2 – 5% area.

    So – and I repeat my condemnation of the cyclist and give best wishes to the lady hurt by him – why is it that this story was the second headline in the Evening Standard. They could run stories about bad driver behaviour leading to similar or worse pedestrian casualties (including on crossings and pavements) a few times every week. But don’t.

    Isn’t that worthy of comment, irrespective of engineering issues?

    • AndyC says:

      Motorist hits pedestrian = Dog bites man which is commonplace. Cyclist hits pedestrian = Man bites dog which is rare = News.

      Unfortunately (and this is where the analogy breaks down) this is the story everybody remembers, not the, far more common, motorist/pedestrian casualties.

      But, as most adult pedestrians are also motorists (but few are also cyclists) this could be a ‘Cyclist hits motorist’ story = Man bites dog, only in a Dog newspaper.

      (The London Evening Lamp Standard?….. the Barking Times?….sorry, couldn’t resist it)

    • Colin Tweed says:

      I think the “Hit and Run” nature of this incident has given the media all the excuse they need. Similar hit-and-runs on pedestrians often make the Standard even if carried out by motorists😉 although probably not as prominently.

      I’d be interested to know the legality of what charges would be brought on the cyclist if and when he’s found. My understanding is that the “failure to stop” offence only applies to drivers of motor vehicles not bikes, so would they only be able to charge him with “Dangerous cycling” or similar?

      PS> I’m a firm believer that pedestrians should be at the top of the road safety hierarchy, so this cyclists actions are appalling and my sympathies go to Ms McVeigh, I hope she gets the result she seeks.

      • pm says:

        Cyclists have been charged with things like assault, have they not? My memory is extremely vague, but there was a case not long ago where a cyclist came down a hill too fast and crashed into a child crossing the road, resulting in serious head injuries for the unfortunate child. If I remember correctly the cyclist responsible was charged, not with any specific cycling or road offence but with a non-road-related criminal charge,

        So possibly the outcome would have little to do with the mode of transport, and be no different from if a large powerful bloke had run along the pavement and shoulder-charged a smaller person violently out of the way?
        Just speculation, mind.

  7. rdrf says:

    Colin Tweed. I think “dangerous cycling” would be the most appropriate charge. My concern is that even with hit-and-run the ES does not give such events an equivalent prominence.

    pm In the case you mention the cyclist was given a significant (several months) custodial sentence – which is a lot more than he would have got for an incident of careless (or even dangerous) driving. The mode of transport, in other words, WAS relevant – with the careless/dangerous cycling being viewed more seriously. My concern is not to defend such behaviours, but to point out how the more frequent and likely cause of damage to pedestrians (namely inappropriate driving) is not being treated seriously enough. The biggest losers from this kind of approach will actually be pedestrians.

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