Lifestyle & Belief

London's cycling 'superhighways' prove to be super dangerous

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Credit: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A Commuter cycles in central London. The deaths of six cyclists on the roads this month in London have prompted calls for the city's mayor Boris Johnson to speed up road safety measures in the capital.

Like many cities, Lonson is encouraging people to use bicycles more. Mayor Boris Johnson has even introduced special bike lanes, known locally as cycling "superhighways."

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In a city of 8 million, there are going to be accidents. And, sadly, some fatalities. Still, Londoners have been stunned by a rash of six cycling deaths in just two weeks.

Three of them were on the same cycling superhighway.

"[They are] meant to be a way of getting a lot of people on a safe cycle route from A to B and the cycle route is denoted in the street with blue paint," said Mark Ames, a cyclist and author of the blog, IBIKELONDON. "But not all cycle superhighways are born equal. Some of them are fully separated from traffic and some of them are, in fact, just blue paint and nothing more."

The most deadly of the new bike paths goes through his neighborhood.

"I don't mind using it myself, but I'm fully aware that there are a lot of people, for example, older people, or people who aren't able to keep up with the speed of traffic, who would not feel comfortable riding there," said Ames.

Statistics show that the behavior of London's cyclists is rarely to blame for serious accidents. Many say the real problem is the high number of construction vehicles and hauling trucks on London's roads.

"If you were to ask people 'what's killing people in London,' that would be the answer," said Ames. "What's going to make London safer is to restrict access of the very biggest vehicles, and that's a debate that's happening currently."

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