London Mayor urged to act after spate of cyclist deaths

LONDON (Reuters) - The deaths of five cyclists in just nine days 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.

The fatalities have been caused through collisions with buses, lorries and a coach. Three more cyclists remain in hospital.

So far this year, 13 cyclists have been killed on London's roads.

Mr Darren Johnson, a Green Party London Assembly member and a member of the assembly Transport Committee, said the Mayor needed to act.

"Unfortunately, while the Mayor has been a keen advocate of cycling and a keen champion of cycling, he's failed to put the necessary infrastructure in place to make cycling as safe as possible in London," he told Reuters.

"I think the mayor has really got to use these tragic deaths as a wake-up call, and really get to grips with making our streets safer for cyclists."

Safety campaigners have criticised initiatives such as blue-painted cycle "superhighways" and separate traffic lights, for not providing adequate protection.

"It's absolutely right that we get the infrastructure in place, but sadly all too often it has just been about putting blue paint on the road, not actually preventing traffic using the cycle superhighways," Mr Darren Johnson said.

Since 2000, the number of cyclists in London has risen by almost 200 per cent, according data from Transport for London (TfL), the body responsible for most public transport in the capital.

The Mayor is often photographed cycling around the city, and introduced a bike hire system in 2010.

The first two London cycle superhighways were launched in July 2010, with 12 initially planned to be created by 2015.

Last month, a coroner ordered a safety review of the blue lane system after conducting inquests into the deaths of two cyclists killed while using it.

Mayor Johnson said one death was too many, but insisted cycling in London was actually getting safer, with the number of fatalities per million journeys falling.

"I just want to stress to all Londoners and people thinking of cycling in our city, we are putting hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment into the road network. We are doing our level best to make it as safe as we possibly can," he told Sky television.