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”


Cycling Debate: Just more talking and hand waving?

Yesterday was Cycling Debate. Three political parties had a chance to say how much they would do for our towns and cities, to help more people cycle.

Continue reading “Cycling Debate: Just more talking and hand waving?”

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

How Brussels started to see past the car

I’ve not seen a better portrayal of how the car has come to dominate the way we live and tie us to a failing way of transport that costs millions.

I’ve always associated Belgium with bikes, so I was surprised to watch this film that blew that out of the water.

‘Brussels Express’ is a film about bicycle messengers in Europe’s most congested European city. Before you rush off, muttering something about bicycle messengers, blah, blah, I was almost the same.

It’s a very well made film and I love the characters. Karl-Heinz, the bike messenger, talks about the time he started his business 10 years ago and how the city has changed. He is pretty incredulous at how people just sit in their cars and accept it as if it is normal.

Other interesting insights comes from the mayor of Stockholm. His visits to Brussels just leave him gobsmacked at how impossible it is to move around the city. It’s not just rush hour, it’s grid locked at every hour. He then talks about the way Stockholm transformed by introducing congestion charging* even when around 60% of people were against it. Then when they saw the benefits, that was reversed.
Anyway, a lovely video, well worth the 20 mins.


*IBM helped implement the congestion charging system into Stockholm – this was a bizarre coincidence (read more)

Your city, your future

Last night at the BFI in London, IBM launched 6 videos that address the issues we face living in cities and how the decisions we make now will influence how we live and work in the future.

You can read more of my point of view on the smarterplanet blog, watch the videos on YouTube or visit for more information.

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Smarter Transport

I is famous(ish) again

Croydon Advertiser

It’s Bike Week in the UK and locally we had a little Bike Fest, well the local council did.  We ended up in the paper talking about how we use our bikes.

You can read the whole article in this pdf.

Also got another call from a different part of Transport for London – this time the people doing the imove campaign and have ended up in their business partner magazine – oh and they gave me a free A-Z.

At work I also started off the IBM team for the London Cycle to Work Challenge that is going on all this month.  So far we have about 21 people signed up and Bedfont have been offering free breakfast to anyone that cycles in.  So far we have done 928 miles.

Every penny counts

This week in London we will see fuel protests over the current price, with protesters asking the government not to go ahead with a 2p tax increase on petrol later this year, which all seems a drop in the ocean when prices seem to go up by 2p every day.

Sooner or later we will all have to face up to higher fuel prices, even if we find more gas and oil under the arctic we can’t go on burning fossil fuels the way we are if we are going to survive as a species on this planet. Don’t worry about the planet – that will go on fine once we annihilate ourselves in this crazy race of life.

I would think all the protesters would be better off looking at ways they can be smarter about the fuel they use and look for alternatives to transport goods or retraining than wasting time trying to save 2p a litre.

Fuel prices will of course increase the price of everything we buy which seems the obvious incentive to everyone to reduce consumption and become a bit greener, then the Conservatives come out with a crazy idea for individual carbon allowances – a process in itself will create a huge increase in the use of valuable resources.

We either decide to save the environment so we can live on this planet or we keep economic activity growing the way it is and face, if not extinction in the not too distant future, then a serious change to the current situation.

We also have fishermen on strike over the cost of diesel today all over Europe. Governments that at one time talked about green issues are looking at ways to keep this old economy going.

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