Karl Roche

family, cycling and communications



Join the next Stop Killing Cyclist die-in, Nov 27 #NoMoreCoffins

The third annual die-in and vigil for people killed while riding bikes in London will be held later this month outside the TfL HQ on Blackfriars Road.
Continue reading “Join the next Stop Killing Cyclist die-in, Nov 27 #NoMoreCoffins”

The best cycling flash mob ever?

Cycle commuters in London got some welcome support on the streets recently.

This is good..

But it’s not this good…

Would be nice to ride like this everyday

This was us riding back from the #Space4Cycling event a couple of weeks ago, along The Embankment. The little one’s face says it all really.

Yet another cyclist killed in London

How can this be right and allowed to continue?

A 52 year old cyclist was killed at the Vauxhall Cross gyratory by a tipper truck. This is a shocking similarity to the other 5 deaths in London this year.

The Evening Standard carries the full story.

Cyclist killed at Vauxhall Cross
Cyclist killed at Vauxhall Cross (photo by Paulius Štutas – Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License)

I was here back in December with many other supporters of “Stop Killing Cyclists” who held a die-in to highlight the dangers of the junction.

Die in at Vauxhall, December 2013
Die in at Vauxhall, December 2013

Stop Killing Cyclists have issued a press release:

As yet another truck kills yet another cyclist on London’s roads Stop Killing Cyclists calls on the London Mayor to take immediate action to stop the carnage.

The London Mayor must urgently focus resources on tackling London’s horrifying dangerous truck epidemic.

In just one pilot project by the Metropolitan Police last winter they found 70% of targeted trucks stopped were driven illegally.

It is estimated that up to 30% of all trucks being driven in London were in an illegally dangerous state or being driven illegally.

When Stop Killing Cyclists met with the Metropolitan Police in February we were told a recruitment moratorium was in place in the truck enforcement team and in the Roadsafe dangerous driving reporting scheme.

Donnachadh McCarthy, Stop Killing Cyclists Co-founder, said,

“Our hearts go out to the family of yet another cyclist killed on London’s roads.

Stop Killing Cyclists held a demonstration at Vauxhall Cross in December 2013, following the 6 awful November tragedies, calling for greater enforcement of truck safety regulations and emergency segregated cycle lanes to be installed at left-hand turn junctions like Vauxhall Cross and Elephant & Castle.”

He added:

“The Mayor must immediately tackle the illegal dangerous truck epidemic on London’s roads and set a 2 year target to reduce illegality to a maximum of 1%, from its current estimated level of 30%.

It is time to call an end to this complacency and false priorities. The Mayor must target the killers not the victims.”

“Serious talks on London’s segregated cycle lanes”

Listening is the first of many steps, but the protests by Stop Killing Cyclists are working.

TfL spokesperson confirmed that TfL are in direct talks with Stop Killing Cyclists (SKC). If you don’t know, SKC is a grassroots, non-funded group of cyclists keen to see change, who put their point across with direct action across London, highlighting the lack of funding and inaction from government at all levels.

More on this on the Stop Killing Cyclists Facebook community.

(Image from the South London Press.)

South London Press

Cyclists protest at Elephant & Castle after another death

A very moving scene at this infamous junction in south London, well worth hearing the speeches, one of which was written by a recent victim from his hospital bed – you’ll be surprised at the content. Continue reading “Cyclists protest at Elephant & Castle after another death”

The #BigRide London

This was the scene on Saturday during the LCC #BigRide as it passed through Whitehall. Wonderful weather and a wonderful day.

This is how cyclists get hit by HGVs

All week we have been hearing about how cyclists should wear a helmet, hi-viz, lights, not go through red lights. Then, today I see this video on Twitter.

Quite amazing that the lorry driver passes too close to one cyclist at a pinch point and then turns left across another, only to come to a complete stop yet yards later. This is how people get killed. A second or two is all that saved this guy from getting squashed. Doesn’t matter how fast a truck this size is moving, once it gets hold of something it doesn’t let go and the driver won’t know.

This is what James Watthey, Commercial Barrister thought of it:

There was no need for  the driver to do what he did. No cars behind, no traffic lights. The driver had to overtake the cyclist so he knew the rider was there. Just pure stupidity.

Over 1,000 London Cyclists Stage Die-in To Protest Over 13 Deaths in November

Over 1,000 cyclists lay on the ground outside the office of TfL
Over 1,000 cyclists lay on the ground outside the office of TfL

This was the scene outside Transport for London, HQ in south London on Friday, November 29th and I have to say it was pretty cold on the floor.

The 15-minute “die in” was part of the Stop Killing Cyclists protest which comes after six cyclists and seven pedestrians were killed in the London this month. However, this was only one part of the evening which started with a 30 minute vigil for those that had died accompanied by a cellist as people lit candles.

Later, the names of the dead were read out and we heard from a mother, Nazan Fennell, who had lost her 13 year old daughter after a truck crushed her at a pedestrian crossing. The driver had been using his mobile phone and tried to cover this up by deleting texts. He was jailed for only 6 months. Take a few minutes to listen to her story in the video below.

We also heard from Tom Kearney who somehow survived being hit and crushed under bus on Oxford Street, which left him with punctured lungs and in a near death coma for a month. He is one of over 2000 people that have been killed or seriously injured by buses alone in London since 2008.

At the end of the evening, a list of requirements were handed over to TfL Surface Transport’s managing director Leon Daniels.

Yet, while all this was going on the Metropolitan Police continue to harass cyclists in Operation Safeway. This operation seeks to blame the victims, rather than address the cause which is that buses and lorries are over represented in the number of deaths they cause on our roads. In November alone the cycling and pedestrian fatalities involved six lorries, four buses, a coach and two cars.  Independent statistics show that motor vehicles are responsible for 68% of accidents involving a bike. Cyclists are responsible only 20% of the time – the remaining 12% being shared or no blame. Caroline Russell sums the issue up very well in The Huffington Post, there is an asymmetry between power and risk when it comes to motor vehicles and cyclists or pedestrians.

The thing is that the discussions about red light jumping, no lights, hi-viz and helmets are not the issue. Those killed in the last month were not jumping lights and a helmet is not going to stop 20 tonnes of truck from crushing you. The issue is  that all people are at risk from the dangers of the vehicles we see on the roads and the way people drive. Speed limits are routinely broken by everyone. Many cars and lorries are unroadworthy.

The culture in this country is that the car is the right and only way to travel but it is destroying our cities, making them less enjoyable to live in and wrecking thousands of lives every year. We all have a responsibility to be safe on the roads (yes, cyclists and pedestrians too) but if you are sat in a huge mechanical box that weighs anything over a tonne, you have much more responsibility, as your actions will impact those around you more than yourself.

Watch the rest of the speeches from #TfLDieIn here.

Donnachadh McCarthy speaks at #TfLDieIn
Donnachadh McCarthy speaks at #TfLDieIn

Help to #StopTheKilling this Friday at #TfLDieIn

This Friday join over 2,000 cyclists and pedestrians in a peaceful protest to mark the recent death cyclists in London and for over 2030 people killed by London buses since 2008.

The event will run from 5-6:30pm on Friday, Nov 29 out the TfL HQ in Blackfriars.

Find out more on  #TfLDieIn and the Facebook event page.

Can we have safer roads for people?

Cyclists are organising a die-in at TfL HQ later this month in protest over a month of tragedies. 

It must be hard for you to have missed that in the last two weeks, 6 cyclists have been killed in London. Even friends and family that don’t often talk about cycling as much as I do have been talking about it. Even they have said  that HGV’s seem to be a problem.

All this came after Boris opened a short stretch of segregated cycle lane in Stratford. After the first death the day before, in quick succession we saw innocent people being crushed under the wheels of lorries and buses across the capital.

London Cycling Campaign held a vigil after one of the deaths at Bow.

Apparently the Mayor of London thinks that headphones are more of a problem and has recently said he would support a ban on cycling with headphones but not one which would remove HGV’s from central London during rush hour. Now, I think riding with headphones is stupid too but they haven’t been the cause of the deaths and many reported (and unreported) injuries each day. It’s deflected the attention from the real issue and blaming the victim at the same time. Olympic champion, Chris Boardman, has called for Boris to stand by verbal commitments he gave Chris earlier in the year.

It’s not just central London though. Croydon is much further south and experienced it’s own tragedy when a cyclist was killed by a bus.

Many people are now calling into question  what credibility Boris has left.

Considering so little of what was promised has actually come to fruition in London, a grassroots organisation has sprung up on Facebook to bring together cyclists from across London for a peaceful protest outside the TfL HQ in south London. Full details here. Their page says:

“After 15 deaths and innumerable injuries on London’s roads over the last year, (6 deaths just in the space of two weeks this month), London’s cyclists have had enough.”

If you would like to join the protest or just like to find out more visit the Facebook page.

Join the #TfLDieIn on 29th November at TfL HQ

Olympic cycling death: This has to stop

Only hours after Bradley Wiggins won an Olympic gold in the cycling time trial and 28 year old man was hit by an Olympic media bus and killed (BBC).

The fact that this is about the 61st death on our roads of a cyclist this year is almost secondary. Indeed another cyclist killed in another town would not have made news so fast but the situation of this death makes it clear that we are failing to protect cyclists effectively even when you would think there would be a good chance that drivers at the Olympics may have had some cycle awareness training. The driver of the bus has been held on “suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.”

The day of the opening ceremony for the Olympics the monthly Critical Mass Ride was taking place in London, which is an informally organised protest ride about the situation and provision for cyclists which also happens in a number of other countries around the world. Except that ride didn’t just happen as it does every month, the police decided that it was a threat to the peace and harmony of the Olympic games and decided to use kettling tactics to detain the riders and arrest 182 of them, including a 13 year old. Apparently riding your bike near the Olympic park can get you in a police cell for 5 hours and a bail order to not enter the Borough of Newham during the Olympics.

So it seems we have a group of people that wants a city that is safe to cycle in, which preserves the environment and has overwhelming health and economic benefits but an Olympics which is only concerned with itself and a local government that is all to willing to support their every wish. LOCOG has made these games the worst in living memory, they have totally ripped out the heart of what I thought of the Olympics when I was growing up as a kid and watched every second of every sport that was on TV. The way the population of London has been railroaded, from missiles deployed on blocks of flats, to the insensitive way the Olympic lanes were brought in, I have just lost any appetite for it.

Boris has done nothing to listen to the needs of the people. His promise to Go Dutch is yet to be seen but this death mustn’t be in vain. Of course, it is in vain, especially for him and his family. A senseless waste of a life because a driver couldn’t wait 2 seconds for a safe place to overtake or was driving too fast.

I’ve been hit twice this year, one by a car coming from the other direction which turned into a road across me. The another with a motor bike hitting me from behind. The close calls don’t even register anymore, it’s expected. But sometimes I do wonder if on the next ride it could be curtains for me or friends that ride.


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