British architects demand construction industry take responsibility for cyclists' deaths

ghost bike
via Elliott Cowand Jr /

Four of the five deaths of London cyclists were caused by tipper trucks, or what we call in North America, dump trucks. One of them was Moira Gemmill, described as "a major figure in the London architecture and design scene." Now a prominent architect in London is speaking out, complaining about the construction industry. Peter Murray, chairman of New London Architecture and a cycling activist, tells the Architects Journal (behind pay wall):

It is very shocking that construction is responsible for so many deaths. It behoves all those involved in the industry to make greater efforts to reduce this slaughter. Architects should make sure that clients and contractors are fully aware of the issues and that only lorries with properly trained drivers and the necessary safety equipment should be employed on their sites.

An earlier Guardian article noted that "Lorries carrying materials to and from building sites are disproportionately responsible for cyclist deaths, something the construction industry is failing to take sufficiently seriously."

I have seen this many times; these are big trucks and they are always in a hurry. I lost a rowing buddy to a construction dump truck. The Guardian explains why:

If the driver is the person who owns the lorry, or his brother owns the lorry, and they've mortgaged the house to buy the lorry, they're under huge pressure to take an extra load that day, or two extra loads. It's a problem the police are aware of but they can realistically only look at it after there's been a crash.

In the Architects Journal, architects discuss the issue and Joe Morris of Duggan Morris notes:

Worst of all, are the construction vehicles. They are quite rightly targeted as the worst offenders of this situation. I do believe they are doing everything they can to address these issues (signs at the back of the vehicle to prevent cyclists overtaking on the inside left, signs to stay back, signs to communicate that the vehicle makes regular stops and so on), however nothing of this sort can remove fully the self-evident danger having such vehicles on the road presents.

bike lane davenportLloyd Alter/ Davenport and Belmont/CC BY 2.0

Where I live in Toronto, the disregard for cyclists during construction is appalling. Bike lanes are construction storage yards, cyclists are pushed into high speed traffic lanes, roads are closed. In one case, temporary utility poles were stuck in the middle of a major bike lane.

When there is a death on a construction site, the blue-hatted safety people will shut it down for weeks for the investigation. But when a dump truck squishes a cyclist, it's just an unavoidable accident. If every incident with a construction vehicle was treated as a construction accident, I bet things would change real fast.

British architects demand construction industry take responsibility for cyclists' deaths
Of the five deaths this year, construction vehicles were overwhelmingly represented.

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