The most dangerous London borough for cycling revealed as collisions in the capital surge

A cycle lane in Westminster, London (PA Wire)
A cycle lane in Westminster, London (PA Wire)

London cyclists are most likely to be involved in a collision or injure themselves in Westminster, the Standard can reveal, prompting renewed calls for protective cycle lanes to be installed in the borough.

The number of collisions involving bicycles in the capital has risen from 150 in 2017 to 437 last year - the most recorded in five years - Metropolitan Police data reveals.

Meanwhile 307 have already been recorded between January and August 2022.

These incidents have occured most frequently in Westminster compared with any other London borough in the past six years, with the exception of 2018 when the most were recorded in Southwark.

Forty have been recorded in Westminster so far this year, up from 30 in 2020 and 38 in 2021.

Westminster Cycling Campaign said it has been a trend for 10 years.

“Westminster is coming up constantly as top for walking and cycling collisions,” Healthy Streets Campaigner Clare Rogers said.

“You can say that it’s partly because so many people walk and cycle in central London but it’s not an excuse for Westminster City Council, who have been notoriously backward for putting in cycling infrastructure.

“Because ultimately this is about cycling infrastructure.”

Ms Rogers said there needs to be more Low Traffic Neighbourhoods across London and safer junctions, to create a safer environment for cyclists and encourage more residents to pick up a bike for the first time.

“Women are much more reluctant to take risks [but] we are seeing much more diverse people cycling when it’s safe to do so, and that’s what Westminster needs to do,” she told the Standard.

One of two new segregated cycling lanes on Westminster bridge funded by TfL (Ross Lydall)
One of two new segregated cycling lanes on Westminster bridge funded by TfL (Ross Lydall)

Ms Rogers told the Standard protective lanes give cyclists up to 40 per cent less risk of collision, providing a solution to the perception of danger that particularly affects women and children.

Protective cycle lanes are allocated sections of a road for cycle use only. Some physical separation is used to stop cars from entering the space, for example, bollards. There are usually two lanes within the protective cycle lane for each direction of cycle traffic.

Ms Rogers claimed that Westminster have resisted these.

“There isn’t any really protective bike lanes on Westminster roads. That is a big reason why there are so many collisions, why cyclists are so unsafe.

“The good news is that Westminster [City Council] has a new [Labour] administration and before they got elected they pledged to us they would put in a network of protective cycleways.”

Ms Rogers said injuries from collisions - such as losing a leg or chronic pain - can be “life changing” for cyclists and even led one to take their own life.

According to the Westminster Cycling Campaign, between 2017 and 2021 Westminster had the highest number of cyclist injuries of any London borough, with 344 people seriously injured.

Westminster Cycling Campaign co ordinator Georgia Williams started cycling to and from work during the pandemic.

“The pop-up cycle lane on Park Lane was ideal for my commutes during lockdown when I didn’t feel comfortable on public transport,” she told the Standard.

“Cycling has now become the number one way I get around London and dedicated, protected space for cycling away from busy motor traffic is crucial to making our roads safer and getting more people cycling.

“Someone I know has been in hospital for over two months since he was hit by a car on a busy road so this is personal for me.”

Paul Dimoldenberg, Cabinet Member for City Management and Air Quality, said Westminster City Council has been discussing plans to introduce “more segregated cycle lanes” since May.

He pointed to the introduction of 20mph speed limits, new crossings and more cycle lanes across the borough.

“Every cycle collision on our streets is a serious concern and we are constantly looking at measures to make getting around the city safer,” he said.

“Westminster is the busiest borough in the country with millions of journeys through the city each week. We’re pleased that more and more people are choosing to cycle – the council is committed to making it safer and easier to choose cycling year on year.

“Improving safety for cyclists is a key priority for the new administration and since May we have been discussing, with cycling groups, our plans to introduce more segregated cycle lanes, more safe crossings and more cycle hangars.

“We are also working closely with TfL to provide an improved network of safe routes for cyclists.”

Southwark and Lambeth also had consistently among the highest rates of collisions involving cyclists across London.

Meanwhile in September campaigners protested at Old Street to highlight the dangers of the Old Street to Holborn “Clerkenwell boulevard” route.

Camden Cycling Campaign and Cycle Islington said there has been “eight years of inaction”, despite promises from Camden and Islington councils and Transport for London in the wake of hundreds of injuries and a spate of fatalities around the Holborn gyratory.

London boroughs with the most cyclist collisions between Jan-Aug 2022:

Westminster 40

Camden 27

Southwark 18

Tower Hamlets 18

Hackney 15

Lambeth 15