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HomeNewsCrimeBan on rush-hour lorries 'urgently' needed after another cyclist death

Ban on rush-hour lorries ‘urgently’ needed after another cyclist death

A total ban on lorries  during rush hour is ‘urgently’ needed after the death of another cyclist in Southwark last week – the fourth in the borough since 2013.

Esther Hartsilver, 32, was cycling by the junction of Denmark Hill and Orpheus Street when she was involved in a collision with a lorry and critically injured.

She was rushed to nearby King’s College Hospital, where she also worked as a physiotherapist, but died that evening.

Her tragic death has seen both politicians and road safety campaigners calling for change.

Southwark Council Leader Peter John said a total ban of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) during rush hour was needed to secure the safety of the capital’s cyclists.

Cllr John said: “Last year I proposed a London-wide ban on HGVs during rush hour to protect cyclists, and following the tragic death of Esther Hartsilver the case for such a ban remains strong. I will be writing to the Mayor of London this week asking him to look at this with us urgently.”

Harriet Harman, MP for Camberwell and Peckham, also voiced her support for the council’s proposed ‘safe cycling hour’ initiative.

Esther Hartsilver Camberwell Cyclist 3

However, the co-founder of pressure group, Stop Killing Cyclists, argued that it was the lack of action by the council that was contributing to these deaths.

Donnachadh McCarthy pointed out that a safe cycling route had been proposed at Camberwell Green two years ago but was rejected by the Camberwell Community Council after consultation with residents, and accused the council of not spending “a penny” on segregated cycle lanes.

He said: “This is a wake-up call. They must stop their lethal policies and make the roads safe for human beings. Let’s make sure Southwark Council is held accountable for their policies.”

The group have also organised a ‘die in’ protest and vigil for this coming Monday at 6pm. Cyclists will light candles, lay flowers around a ‘ghost bike’ and block traffic by lying on the road by Camberwell Green.

Cllr John responded by asserting the council’s commitment to making cycling “safer for everyone in Southwark” and pledged to invest “millions of pounds in cycling over the next five years.”

He said: “It is too early to speculate on the events surrounding the tragic death of Ms Hartsilver but the council is speaking with Transport for London about a number of changes to the Camberwell network and we will be working with TfL, who we need to agree any decisions.”

Ms Hartsilver’s death provoked an outpouring of grief from both colleagues in the Southwark medical community and friends. A spokesperson for King’s described her as a “dear and respected” member of staff, while Guy’s and St Thomas’, where she had also worked, said she “will be remembered with great fondness.”

Police at the scene of the accident.
Police at the scene of the accident.


  1. so in 2 years 4 people have died….tragic….yes.
    How many pedestrians died in this time……..
    How many motorists died in accidents……
    Has any investigation been done to see if these cyclists obeyed the highway code (many don’t) to see if the drivers were actually at fault.
    Spending MILLIONS of local tax payers money on road improvements for the smallest minority of road users is a waste in times of financial hard ship for local councils!
    By the way I am a cyclist!

  2. 4 people have died in Southwark alone – many more across the capital. In around 70% of cases of cycling accidents, it has been proved that motorists are to blame, generally through inattention or trying to squeeze past cyclists, and a disproportionate number of those killed have been killed by HGVs, so yes, action is definitely needed.

    You say you’re a cyclist, but your comments are a pretty clear indication that you probably aren’t, or at least not a regular commuting cyclist. The majority of cyclists do actually follow the highway code, whereas we have become so blind to motorists breaking it (by jumping reds, using their phones, failing to give enough space to other road users etc. etc.) that we don’t even realise it’s happening.

    I’m sick of this victim blaming culture that takes hold whenever someone is killed by a motorist. Given they’re in control of machines which can easily kill, there should be a presumed liability law for drivers, and the onus should be on them to prove they were not in the wrong.

  3. Hmm, “the smallest minority of road users”?
    Around 25% of vehicles in central London during rush hours are bicycles, and that is despite the dangers and lack of infrastructure. Imagine the potential if more was spent on making cycling a safer and more attractive transport option. How many older people and children do you see cycling on the streets of London? The low numbers are not because cycling is a marginal interest just for ‘lycra louts’ but because so many people feel too unsafe to venture out onto the major roads.
    As CumbrianDynamo comments, increasing cycling will provide advantages to all. Reduction in congestion, improvement in air quality, improvement in people’s health and fitness…

  4. I cycle (but I work locally) so I don’t do a huge commute. Yes drivers do break the law as well….I am not saying that. But there is a culture that if a driver has an accident with a cyclist it is a automatically their fault….this is not always the case. I was a witness in a case where a fellow cyclist jumped a red light and was knocked over by a car…..the police were called and jumped on the driver who had not done nothing wrong. Thank god the guy on the bike was not badly injured but it was clearly his fault. How many cyclist cycle on the pavement to cut traffic……cyclists are not above the law……they should have insurance and an mot on their bikes. The law needs to be enforced as much for cyclist as any opther road user, we are not above the law. I cycle with hi-Vis, Lights etc……how many don’t.
    The enforcement needs to be tougher across the board on EVRY road user….if a cyclist breaks the law by being on a pavement, jumping a red light, not having lights on at night…..then something needs to be done. It is easy for us to blame drivers…..but we need to take stock of our own actions.
    In terms of the smallest minority of road users…….the new cycling figures that TFL was announced is 610,000 journeys a day……if that is to and from…..thats 305,000 users. thats works out to 3.6% of people in london cycling.
    Personally I have never had an accident on my bike, and have cycled for about 30 years (since I was a teenager) on busy london roads. in that time nothing has really changed. if I see a lorry (HGV) I give them a wide bearth, I dont cycle up the inside because I know he cant see me…..I have 2 young children and I want to get home to them everyday… i don’t take risks with my well being….if that adds 10 minutes to my journey then its more than worth it.

  5. there are 610,000 journeys in london by bike….thats TFL figures released today. So if that is a too and from thats only 305,000 people (3.6% by population)
    TFL also state that on average there are 23.8 million journeys on londons roads daily… with 610,000 people on a bike….thats 2.5%….not 25

  6. Are you for real? Sounds to me like you suffer from Aspergers or some lack of humanity problem…
    You say many cyclists don’t obey the Highway Code but ignore the important fact that cyclists do not KILL or indeed rarely injure anyone else.
    It ought to cross your mind that if a cyclist (an otherwise law abiding and intelligent member of society) say goes thru a red light it is to ensure they are not hit from the rear and crushed by car and lorry drivers who claim ‘I didn’t see the cyclist’…
    As to claiming you are a cyclist, your clear lack of any London or indeed countrywide cycling experience, makes me think you sound more like you are simply trolling and so are a troll. After all, what person in their right mind would say they want to be killed on the roads by someone in the most appalling way…?

  7. I personally think cyclist need to to have more legistlation on us….insurance, and fines for breaking the rules.
    A driver has to have an MOT on their vehicle and insurance and a driving license to be able to use the road. If us cyclists want to be treated fairly then we need to have the same rules as they other road users!

  8. As Steve says, the 25% figure is “during rush hours”, not across the day, and it’s actually based on a few key central routes, but that’s not the point. Yes, at the moment it’s a relatively small number, but you need to look at the potential for a larger percentage – better infrastructure, presumed liability (as they have in Holland), better HGV design and restrictions on HGV operating hours will all help to bring the numbers up while simultaneously creating a fall in the number of motor vehicles on our streets. That’s good for everyone.

  9. So you effectively want to ban poor people from getting onto their bikes? Many cyclists don’t choose to ride for fun or fitness, they ride bikes because economically it’s their only choice. By forcing them to obtain a licence and pay for insurance (both of which are unnecessary as accidents caused by cyclists which harm anyone apart from theselves are negligible), you’d also be stopping them from getting from home to a low paid job and marginalising them even further.


    This article is from the Evening Standard in 2013, which historically has not been renowned for being fully supportive of cycling. The number of cyclists hasn’t reduced in the past two years.
    If you take all of Greater London, the figure drops dramatically, but I was talking about central London in rush hours, which is where the greatest congestion, air quality issues and dangers exist.
    But as CumbrianDynamo has just posted, the actual number is a red herring. The benefits of encouraging more people to get out and on their bikes are clear.

  11. It may be easy to blame drivers, but when you look at the punishments dished out to motorists who have killed cyclists and pedestrians through dangerous driving you’ll see that blame does not equal an appropriate and proportionate response. It’s usually just a slap on the wrist and a few points on the licence and nothing more.

    As for high vis clothing – again you’re shifting blame onto victims, and there is actually zero proof that it reduces accidents or makes cyclists more visible in daylight hours, which is when the overwhelming majority of cyclists are killed.

  12. so it is ok for a cyclist to run a red light……there is never a reason to break the law. The highway does not say only cars, lorry, or motorbikes have to stop but a cyclist is do what they like.
    The highway code is for everyone……if the light is red you stop.
    I cycle in London everyday (local journeys) for over 30 years since being a teenager….I have never runa red light, cycled on the pavement or broken a traffic law. I cycle with hi-vis and light…..we are not above the law.
    Why do other cyclist seem to think we have MORE rights that a car or a lorry….we don’t we all the same rights to use the road.
    And as for name calling……not really on is it.
    And would you like to tell the parent of the little girl who was run over by a cyclist on the pavement….was that on the news or made the papers…..NO

  13. There is no culture or legal structure in the UK that the driver is always at fault, although that legal structure does exist in some other European countries. The best example of this is the man who was driven into from behind in Regent Street in 2014 and killed. He was fully compliant with the law, with working lights. The evidence suggests they were both travelling in a forward direction with no evidence of changes of direction. The driver just said she didn’t see him. No CCTV so the police decided to take no further action.
    I do my best to always respect traffic signs – I’m not 100% successful but neither are people in cars. But there is a TfL study that suggests that cyclists are more vulnerable, particularly to HGVs, when they obey the rules and remain at red lights until they change. The answer in my opinion is not to exempt cyclists from the Highway Code, but to address the infrastructure issues, the visibility problems in HGV driving cabs, and also the number of HGVs in central London during the day.
    I also wear hi-viz and a helmet – it’s habit from doing it for the last 45 years. I can’t say I’ve never had an accident, but so far I’ve had very few and none serious. But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that such ‘protective’ clothing creates marginal (if any) improvement in safety. Anyone who saw the BBC emergency medical documentary earlier this week with the incredibly traumatic coverage of the cyclist who died at Ludgate Hill last year, will understand that wearing a helmet would not have made any difference to the outcome.

  14. Its about reducing risk for everyone…..hence why you have to wear hi-viz on a building site… make you more highly vizable.
    If a cyclist is wearing hi-viz and has lights on (at night) and an accident happens with a vehicle then the diver has no recourse when they say ‘I did not see them’.
    If is about protecting eveyone who uses the road……there is no blaming the victim here.
    It is an offense to drive/ride any vehicle on the public highway at night without lights…..why…..because you cant be seen till its too late.
    So whose fault is it i went out at night, wearing all black, with no lights on my bike and while cycling past a junction a car pulls out that cant see me till its too late…..
    If i was in a car with no lights on then its mine….if I am on a bike its the car driver… rule for one……
    The rules of the road are for everyone equally, just because I am on a bike does not change that fact.

  15. I think you misunderstand my points about presumed liability. You should read up more about how it works in Holland, but if, in the situation you describe, a car hits a bike at night, and there are no lights on the bike, then clearly it would not be hard to rule in favour of the motorist. The cyclist is breaking the law, wasn’t properly lit, and it’s easy to argue that the driver did not see them. You might find this article interesting:

    However, hi-viz is not mandatory, and while I accept it may be a good idea in some cases to ride with it at night, it is not effective during the day. In fact, wearing bright yellow on a light grey road on a sunny day potentially makes you less visible than if you were wearing dark clothing. Personally, I don’t wear it at any time of day, as I ride in London and our streets are lit up well enough for me to cycle with lights and some light coloured clothing and still be visible to traffic – no motorist could argue that they couldn’t see me.

  16. again back to my point….where is the money to pay for the segrigated lanes coming from. We are in times of hardship across the country.
    This is obviously coming out of the tax payers pocket…..and for those who are not cyclists are going to be annoyed their money is not being spent on education or the NHS etc.
    Its like waving a red flag at a bull!
    Banning industry from the roads is not a good idea either…..if shops can’t get deliveries at certain times during the day will put finacial burdens on them, and could cause even more problems….more lorries and heavy vehicle crammed into fewer hours….will lead to traffic chaos.
    it is hard to champion a cause when you are painting a target on every cyclist saying this traffic chaos is down to you guys! all this money for cycle lanes thats not being used, roads being torn up all over for the cycle lanes……
    If there was legistlation to help reduce the accidents by correctly identifing the problems it would go along way to help.
    You cannot blame every lorry driver for a few accidents, how many buses were involved in cyclist RTA….would we want buses banned too
    Where does it end just because I want to cycle on a road that everyone has the same entitlement to use.

  17. like I said I cycle, I cannot deny the health benifits.
    We cannot (and will never) be compared to the netherlands… the 70’s when they started they had fewer cars (per head than we did at the same time) and its taken over 30 years to get the cycling mecca it is today.
    We cannot just jump and build an infrastructure like this is a couple of years, the money for all this has to come from somewhere….as a nation we love our cars…thats never going to change. personally I cannot see people dumping their cars for a bike.
    I don’t take my bike shopping or on a long journey so I still have a car… saying that all this talk is going to make people cycle is very unlikely

  18. The infrastructure can be paid for using some of the money that non-motorists are currently shelling out to pay for motorists. It can also come from the NHS savings as obesity levels and pollution levels fall. It can also partially be financed by a drop in spending on traffic policing. Some more money could come from the increase in GDP which results from having a more free-flowing traffic network, which allows essential goods to reach their intended destinations faster. Don’t kid yourself that motorists are paying anything like the amount needed to cover the costs of maintaining our current road network for their benefit.

  19. but thats all reliant on people cycling…eg health benifits fewer cars…etc
    This is not going to happen in the scales needed to fund…..look at the mini-holland projects….30million does not even touch the sides for the schemes.
    The UK sold more cars han ever last year…..same was said for the year before…and the year before than…nearly 20% increase last year if I rememeber.
    That tells me few people are going to give up this luxury for a bike.
    I don’t understand the bit about non motorists paying out for motorists?

  20. £30 million will buy you just one mile of motorway. Non-motorists pay out all kinds of taxes which help fund motorists and roads, and the cost of maintaining the road network, along with the associated things such as policing, signage, cost to NHS of accidents, is significantly higher than the amount paid out by drivers. Council tax covers roads, and is payable by everyone regardless of whether they use the roads or not.

  21. Council tax covers the ‘highway’ which also covers footways, roads, cycle paths, alleyways… everyone uses them as some point. Everyone is entitled to use the NHS regardless of why they attend….more people attend hospitals for DIY related injures than anyother….do we ban that too.
    Everyone pays for policing nothing to do with roads.
    Signage is taken care of in your council tax, exept motorways which I think comes out of road tax.
    You are right £30 million is nothing and will cover very minimal cycle lanes etc. This is the figure given to 4 or 5 london boroughs to ‘help’ cycling. The road infrastrucure in a lot of places will not allow the introduction of a segregated cycle lane….pavements have to be a legal width…so does the road… does the cycle lane…..there is just not enough space…..
    Boris’s super cycle highways are costing over £1 million a mile!

  22. What absolutely typically silly lefty green metropolitan elite thinking. Failing to see the elephant in the room. We need motor transport but we don’t actually need cyclists and I am one too.

    For a start the very concept of road cycling is: Exposed humans, high up on two flimsy wheels doing unnatural speed, and mixing, mingling, competing with large pieces of heavy moving, and essential infrastructure, operated by very average people of varying skill and mental capacity. Is that a correct definition or not? Would rational human beings normally want to put themselves in that position? And would politicians normally allow it for anything but road cycling? Instead, for ideological motives, politicians are encouraging this fool hardy activity.

    So the best common sense answer would be to discourage it instead.

    Society wasn’t built and expanded on manpower since man took to the horse and certainly doesn’t need cyclists at all to subsist. All it must have is walkers and drivers and the rest are unnecessary hazards. Thus people are dying and being maimed from it.

    How about waking up and smelling the coffee?

  23. This is something I have been calling for for years. They should then remove some of the night-time restrictions for lorries (which are intended to make the roads quieter).

    Yes, of course lorries need to deliver but rush hour they are not going to get very far anyway, and they also add extra congestion to the roads, delaying everybody (not just private cars) and making the roads a lot more dangerous.

    Most of the lorries I see in the morning rush hour are not delivering goods to shops but seem to be building or road maintenance based.

  24. This is a very tragic situation. But i also send out my deepest thoughts to the family of the lorry driver. If he stopped at the scene he would have no doubt been breathalysed immediately, his Taccho would have been checked. He was not arrested. I think it is unfair for most people to straight away blame the lorry driver, this poor driver has to live with the fact that he has killed someone for the rest of his life and we should consider what him and his family are going through at this time.

  25. OK, I think you might be starting to ramble a bit now, so I’m just going to leave it here. If you really did ride a bike, and if you actually did some research into the arguments for de-prioritising cars, you’d understand how removing vehicles from our roads would create a better system and save money in the long run.

  26. So all humans should prostrate themselves before the great god of motorised transport? Drivers are king, all others should get out of their way, is that it? Well, you’re welcome to your traffic-choked dystopian society. Some of us actually want to live in cities where getting around on foot or by bike doesn’t mean constantly watching our backs in case we get mown down by drivers who think they rule the world.

    As for you being a cyclist, let’s meet up for a bike ride through Central London sometime.

  27. We don’t need a ton of dangerous machinery to move one person a few miles.
    We do need to be safe in public places.
    Time to ditch the car.

  28. Motor vehicles are regulated because they are dangerous. The purpose of the laws is to reduce the danger.

  29. There is no “road tax” in the UK, it was abolished in 1937 by Churchill, even us Yanks know that. Try another one (BTW there is an “excise tax” on cars but it is based on pollution emitted, bikes would be exempt just like electric cars).

  30. First, the Dutch have been just as car-crazy as any other country and they were as auto-centric in their planning prior to the mid-’70s as every other country. Second, it didn’t take 30 years to build out the system but more like 10, and then spend the rest of their time refining and improving. Third if we stop building “roads to nowhere” just so real estate brokers and developers can turn more farmland into housing estates we will have plenty of money to build bicycle infrastructure, and even more later as bicycles do only a tiny fraction of the damage to the road surface as compared to motor vehicles. One of the reasons the Dutch spend so much on improving their bike infrastructure is they don’t have to spend as much putting their motor vehicle infrastructure back together because it gets so little use. It is what we engineers call a “virtuous circle” as opposed to the more usual “vicious circle” where you fix something that breaks something else so you fix that and break something else, on and on until your back fixing the first thing again because the last thing you fixed broke that again.

    And “induced demand” works just as well for bicycles as it does for cars, but at a tiny fraction of the cost.

  31. Something left out of the article is that 6 cyclists have been killed in London as a whole since Jan. 1, all run down by HGV, most at intersections. Number of people driving HGV killed by cyclists since the dawn of time: 0.

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