These Moving Photos Show The Moments Before Cyclists Were Killed By Cars

Drivers make biking an inherently risky form of commuting. These photos show just how risky–and how deadly cars can be.

At 8 a.m. on a Tuesday, riding her bike to work in London, on a route she took every day, 29-year-old Stephanie Turner was hit by a truck. She was the first of eight cyclists to be killed in the city in 2015.


A series of photos–called Mostly Left Turns because seven out of eight of the accidents happened when a truck was turning left–shows the intersection where each person died. A light tracks the path they rode, and stops at the point where they were hit.

“I thought long and hard about how to represent the fact a cyclist had been killed in these otherwise quite unremarkable London streets,” says London-based photographer Graeme Weston. He decided to take each photo at dawn, and asked a friend to ride a bike toward him. A long exposure captured the trail of the headlight.

Claire Hitier-Abadie, a 36-year-old French national and mother of two, was killed by a lorry as it turned left from Bressenden Place into Victoria Street SW1. She was the first victim this year killed while riding a hire bike. The accident happened at eight o’clock in the morning of Thursday, February 19, 2015. The lorry driver was not arrested.

The street is empty in each photo. “My first thought was that there should be no cars,” Weston says. “The idea was that the unusualness of seeing these normally busy streets without traffic would help suggest that something of importance had occurred.”

As more people bike in London than ever before–610,000 a day as of the most recent statistics–the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on city streets has started to slightly decrease. In 2011, 16 people were killed; in 2012 and 2013, 12 people died, though many more people were on the road.

But the number of crashes is still staggeringly high. 3,400 people were seriously injured in 2014. In comparison, in Copenhagen, where around half of commuters bike to work, there were 90 injuries and one death. Other cities with low but growing cycling rates look much more like London–like New York, where 20 cyclists died in 2014, despite the mayor’s efforts to begin to completely eliminate traffic deaths. Across the U.S., the rate of cyclist deaths dropped steadily since the 1970s, but improvement slowed more recently. In 2013, the most recent year that statistics are available, 743 cyclists were killed on the road.

Federica Baldassa, 26, an Italian national working as a fashion buyer in London, was killed by a left-turning lorry at the junction of Bloomsbury Square and Vernon Place WC1 at twenty past nine in the evening of Friday, February 6, 2015, as she cycled home. The driver was not held to be responsible for the accident.

“Definitely things need to change,” says Weston, who has been cycling in London for 30 years. Despite the city’s new network of bike lanes, and new solutions like a law that requires trucks to add safety equipment, riding a bike isn’t safe yet.


“Cycle lanes are still mostly tokenistic (often just a narrow painted strip), badly designed and piecemeal, and often missing altogether on many of the really dangerous roads,” he says. “The prevalent attitude that the car is king endures. That way of thinking needs to be challenged, and motor traffic dramatically reduced. Only then will cycling in London be really safe and enjoyable.”


About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.