Women cyclists beware! And: Lorry drivers beware!

Apparently Transport for London have a report showing that ‘Women cyclists are far more likely to be killed by a lorry because, unlike men, they tend to obey red lights and wait at junctions in the driver’s blind spot’. In not jumping red lights, cyclists are therefore in the blindspot of drivers and liable to be crushed when the lights change.

This report has not been released: I guess reports that suggest you’re safer when disobeying laws don’t go down well -though TfL insist that, rather than being disinterested in the safety of women cyclists, the report is for policy purposes only. They have indeed brought in an awareness campaign… which has itself been criticised.

More here.

Here’s the poster as the London Cycling Campaign would like to see it:

And some useful safety advice for the cyclists among us:

  • If a lorry is in front of you, wait where you can see the mirrors until it is possible to pass it
  • You should pass a lorry only on the right and only when you are sure you have enough time and space to get far enough ahead for the driver to see you clearly before they start moving
  • If a lorry is behind you, ride where the driver has to consider your presence
  • Ride where lorries cannot pass you, or cannot pass you without changing their position on the road
  • HGVs are so dangerous to cyclists that they should be treated with extreme caution

[from London School of Cycling)

14 thoughts on “Women cyclists beware! And: Lorry drivers beware!

  1. Actually: what does the study show? I’m not sure, on the basis of what has been reported:

    ‘The study claims that 86 per cent of the women cyclists killed in London between 1999 and 2004 collided with a lorry. By contrast, lorries were involved in 47 per cent of deaths of male cyclists.’

    This doesn’t show that women cyclists are more likely to be killed by lorries, but that of the causes of cyclists’ deaths on the road, lorries accounted for a larger proportion of women’s deaths. It is consistent with this than men are more likely to be killed, and more likely to be killed by lorries, if, say, the number of male cyclists who have fatal accidents is significantly higher than that for women. Right?

    So another reason for wanting the report – so we can see the raw data.

    Still, worth posting, I thought, for the useful cycle safety info!

  2. A woman was killed by a truck at an intersection in Toronto just a couple weeks ago. I wonder if wheel guards on the trucks would make a difference?

  3. In addition to stoat’s comment, I’d like the authors of the report to tell us more about what evidence they have for their claim that ‘Women cyclists are far more likely to be killed by a lorry because, unlike men, they tend to obey red lights and wait at junctions in the driver’s blind spot’. Do they have stats to back that up or is it just good ol’ gender stereotypes?

  4. Michel X.

    I know that intersection well (I live not too far away from there). It’s a very dangerous intersection for a number of reasons but, as far as I know, no red light was involved.

  5. What would make a difference is investing in a proper network of cycling routes like they have in Denmark and the Netherlands. Safer for cyclists, safer for motorists, safer for pedestrians. Saving petrol, keeping the air cleaner, and saving a big health bill not paying for all those diseases that can be prevented with a bit of daily exercise. Just saying.

  6. I think we’ve known this for awhile. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23393622-male-cyclists-who-jump-red-lights-are-safer.do

    Is this the same story in 2007 and 2011?

    “Women cyclists are more likely to be killed by lorries than men because they obey red lights and then wait in drivers’ blind spots.

    Research by Transport for London, which has been kept secret since last July, suggests that cyclists who jump red lights may be safer than those who stick to the law. “

  7. RETFrog – old news, it seems! Thanks!

    I agree about bike boxes. In the UK, though, it is common for vehicles to sit in them (it is only illegal for vehicles to move into one after the lights have changed). And often I find I can’t get past rows of traffic to occupy the box.

  8. I now realize my earlier comment wasn’t very clear. My question was whether the claim by the authors of the report that ‘[…] unlike men, [women cyclists] tend to obey red lights and wait at junctions in the driver’s blind spot’ was based on empirical evidence or just on gender stereotypes (e.g. women are less risk-prone or more law-abiding than men) because I find it hard to believe that they have good empirical data in support of that claim.

  9. @Gabriele, while I have no idea if that claim is based on empirical data, it doesn’t seem the sort of subject matter that would be inherently difficult to make empirical assessments about. Traffic accidents are a phenomenon that’s documented, investigated and statistically evaluated pretty attentively, not just because it’s of interest to governments but because it implicates the insurance industry (which tends to be very good at analyzing the factors of its own exposure).

    This 2004 metastudy (relating to motor vehicles rather than bicycles) concluded that “The overwhelming evidence … from both experimental and observational studies indicates that differences between the sexes in levels of aggressive driver behaviour are consistent with the [significant] differences in accident rates”:

    Click to access driving.pdf

  10. Thanks for linking the study, Nemo. I would like to look at the specific studies they looked at in the metastudy though (honking as an indicator of aggression?).

    Moreover, I have to say, I doubt they have the same data on cyclists and more in particular data specific about the behaviour they are singling out as the one responsible for the accidents.

    My main worry though is this. If they have good data that shows that, say, cyclists who stop at red lights are more likely than other cyclists to get killed by a truck (sorry but, having not lived in the UK since 2006, ‘lorry’ sounds like such a strange word to use), why don’t they just say that? Why do they have to get gender involved whenever they can?

  11. Gabriele
    “Why do they have to get gender involved whenever they can?”
    Because it is the biggest statistical differentiator. Accident investigators/statisticians probably collect a load of data about cycle deaths – time of day, age gender social class of rider, class of road etc. They probably dont collect data on type of bicycle, attitudes of cyclist (some scope for study here surely) hair colour, tight lycra or baggie shorts BUT regardless of what is collected, if all the factors have no statistical effect, and one markedly does, and if that factor happens to be gender of the cyclist then why is it so taboo to mention it? Are you in denial that it is a statistical fact that more female cyclists get turned into jam on Londons’ roads than male cyclists? Are you saying “Lets have an open, honest discussion about the causes of cyclist road death – but dont mention gender, oh no” ?
    What *if* there was also a strong correlation between ‘traffic rule obeyers’ and deaths? If it was stronger than the females/deaths correlation then go ahead and use it as the headline factor. But then you would ask, how do we easily target and educate these rule obeyers, and you find that most of them are females, then you would target a safety campaign towards females no?
    Like it or not, for both data collectors and educator/marketers, the male/female distinction is far easier to record than the risk/no risk taking behaviour one.
    Is that what you dont like, people jumping to easy gender assumptions? Well, I’m sorry but if the stats say that 90% of females are rule obeyers, then that is good enough for me.

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