Reporter's lorry collision prompts Times cycle campaign

Three months after a Times reporter was hit by a lorry while cycling the paper today launched a campaign for safer cycling across the UK's cities.

Mary Bowers, 27, joined The Times as a graduate trainee in September 2009. She was involved in a collision with a lorry at a junction on Wapping Highway close to The Times offices on 4 November. After suffering multiple injuries, she remains unconcious but is said to be making "slow progress".

The Times campaign, launched with a front page story today, asks readers to support an eight-point manifesto to make cycling in the UK safer. And is also urging people to sign an online petition and write to their MP.

In a piece launching the campaign, Times journalist Kaya Burgess wrote: "Mary, a news reporter, would be first to ask why it is not mandatory for lorries driving on city streets to be fitted with sensors and mirrors to pick up cyclists in their blind spots. Or why training for cyclists and drivers on how to share the road responsibly is so poor.

"Or why some junctions are so dangerous that jumping a red light can actually be a safer option than lining up alongside HGVs at the lights like a racetrack starting grid.

"Or why London trails so far behind cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen in terms of the infrastructure and legislation to protect vulnerable cyclists and to help the drivers who are trying to avoid them."

The Times notes that since 2001, 576 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq and that 1,275 cyclists have died in that time on British streets.

It reports on data which shows there were 1,850 cycle deaths or serious injuries in the first half of 2011, a 12 per cent rise on the year before.

Here is The Times' "Cities fit for cycling" eight-point manifesto:

  • Trucks entering a city centre should be required by law to fit sensors, audible truck-turning alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars to stop cyclists being thrown under the wheels.
  • The 500 most dangerous road junctions must be identified, redesigned or fitted with priority traffic lights for cyclists and Trixi mirrors that allow lorry drivers to see cyclists on their near-side.
  • A national audit of cycling to find out how many people cycle in Britain and how cyclists are killed or injured should be held to underpin effective cycle safety.
  • Two per cent of the Highways Agency budget should be earmarked for next generation cycle routes, providing £100 million a year towards world-class cycling infrastructure. Each year cities should be graded on the quality of cycling provision.
  • The training of cyclists and drivers must improve and cycle safety should become a core part of the driving test.
  • 20mph should become the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes.
  • Businesses should be invited to sponsor cycleways and cycling super-highways, mirroring the Barclays-backed bicycle hire scheme in London.
  • Every city, even those without an elected mayor, should appoint a cycling commissioner to push home reforms.
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