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'Cycling in Croydon must be made safer'


ROGER de Klerk died when his bike went under the wheels of a 410 bus near the junction of Addiscombe Road and Cherry Orchard Road last Tuesday.

The 43-year-old is one of six people to have died on their bikes in London within the last fortnight.

In Croydon, there have been two deaths since 2003 – one last year and one last week.

However, the number of serious injuries has shot up from eight in 2005 to 20 in 2012.

In the past 12 months, more than 100 cycling-related accidents causing serious or slight injuries have been reported.

Austen Cooper, who runs the Croydon Cycling Campaign, told the Advertiser: "The accident levels for drivers and pedestrians have come down in the last few years but for cyclists and people on motorbikes, they have risen sharply.

"The level of cycling in Croydon is low compared to other London boroughs and this increase doesn't necessarily reflect whether more people are using bikes to get around,

"One of the big safety issues is motorists' speeding. Between 2008 and 2010, there was a 90 per cent drop in the number of speeding fines issued.

"Speeding tickets went from more than 500 to 50 which does not mean far fewer people are speeding, it just means there fewer people are getting caught."

Mr Cooper is campaigning for 20mph zones in danger hotspots as well as 'mini-Hollands' which would see town roads laid out like the cycle-friendly cities of Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

In April, Croydon Council submitted its bid for a share of a £100 million pot provided by the London Assembly to improve cycle safety in the borough.

"We lost that bid which is a tragedy," said Mr Cooper.

"I spoke to the people responsible for deciding whether Croydon would be successful and they said the council had a poor record of delivering projects like this successfully. It's a real wasted opportunity."

The cycling campaigner said Croydon needed to leave behind the 1960s road philosophy that created the flyover and Wellesley Road where the "car is king".

"We have a problem with health in Croydon, and appalling congestion," he said.

"Getting more people on bikes and making the roads cater for cycling as a main form of transport would solve these problems."

Ashley Brown, who has lived in Croydon for five years, started cycling with a camera on his bike in January. He regularly uses the junction at Cherry Orchard Road, where Mr de Klerk died last week.

"The whole junction was dug up and had roadworks for about two years to put the tram lines in," he said.

"It was meant to be specifically safe for cyclists but as that accident shows, it isn't.

"If you are coming south on Cherry Orchard Road, you have a choice of getting onto a lane on the pavement and getting off your bike at the pedestrian crossings or pulling up in front of the traffic.

"If you are using your bike to commute, you are not going to get off and walk round with pedestrians."

Mr Brown also explained that tram tracks provide an extra hazard to Croydon cyclists.

"Crossing tram tracks at anything but at right angles can make you crash and turning right at the junction means you have to cut in front of traffic," he added.

A large proportion of bike accidents happen because a cyclist has pulled out in front of a vehicle and been hit, when lorries and buses are undertaken and when drivers open their doors into oncoming cyclists.

Mitcham Road and Brighton Road are notorious hotspots for this, as cars are often parked on cycle lanes.

Other danger zones are Purley Way, Lombard Roundabout, the junction surrounding the IYLO tower and the roundabout near Fairfield Halls.

However, some non-cyclists believe those in the saddle need to take more responsibility for their own safety.

Kevin Nelson, who lives in Upper Norwood, commutes to Croydon town centre every day down Selhurst Road and says cyclists are putting themselves in danger by not wearing the right clothing.

He said: "It's getting darker now and sometimes you can't see people on their bikes. They are not using lights, or reflective jackets.

"It's not the bus drivers' fault most of the time; they are scared witless about having a cyclist under their wheels.

"Cyclists need to make sure they are doing the right thing too."

'Cycling in Croydon must be made safer'

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