Cyclists form ‘human barrier’ in Old Street safety protest

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Cyclists have formed a “human barrier” to protect other riders from vehicles in protest against the lack of action to improve safety on one of London’s most dangerous routes.

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Campaigners protested on Old Street on Thursday to highlight the dangers of the Old Street to Holborn “Clerkenwell Boulevard” route on World Car-Free Day.

Camden Cycling Campaign and Cycle Islington say it has been “eight years of inaction” despite Camden and Islington councils and promises of transport to London and fatalities around Holborn Gyratory in the wake of hundreds of injuries.


Since 2016, there have been 201 cyclist casualties, including 30 seriously injured, on the Old Street to Holborn corridor, according to Cyclestreets’ bikedata.

Recent bicycle deaths in Holborn include Dr Marta Kravic, a 41-year-old pediatrician who died in August last year, and Shata Ali, a former city lawyer who was murdered in March. Huh. Both died after being hit by the lorry.

Under the terms of its £1.2bn government bailout last month, TfL is required to spend £80m a year on “active travel” – that is, walking and cycling. Campaigners want some of these funds to be directed to Old Street.

The “make the lane” protest – which involved activists stepping onto the street to create a corridor for cyclists to ride with – is a repeat of action from three years ago.

Protesters on Thursday included Victoria LeBreck, who lost a leg in a horrific skip lorry accident in 2014, as well as London Assembly Green Party members Sean Berry and Caroline Russell.

6,000 cyclists are believed to use the route daily, despite there being no protected cycle lanes.

Steve Prause from Camden Cycling Campaign: “We held a protest here in 2019 and we were promised action. More people have been injured since then.

“We are fed up with waiting for action on this corridor – one of the busiest for cycling in London, despite the dangers here and the lack of any safe cycling infrastructure. We are promised action by Camden and Islington councils How many more people will be injured or killed before it arrives?”

Prior to the previous protest, an Islington cabinet member stated that the council was “developing a plan to close Old Street and Clerkenwell Road to through-traffic”. nothing has happened.

Elidh Murray of Bicycle Islington said: “There is an urgent need for a safe place to cycle if the climate crisis and ‘Vision Zero’ means no more road deaths from the mayor and our councils.”

An Islington Council spokesman said: “The council is currently working, with TfL and Camden Council, on proposals to introduce separate cycle lanes on the corridor, to make cycling easier and safer while protecting bus travel time. working together.

“Given the corridor’s status as one of London’s most used bicycle and bus corridors, formulating these ambitious proposals involving the redesign of several major junctions is challenging, complex and time-consuming. likely to happen.”

Camden Cabinet member Adam Harrison said the Vision Zero goal was to ensure no one was killed or seriously injured on borough streets by 2041.

He added: “However, we know that there is still much to be done: we want to build a comprehensive network of safe cycle routes, which should be linked to similar changes in neighboring cities.

“One of our planned routes is Theobald Road – Clerkenwell Road. We intend to build the Theobalds Road section as part of the Holborn Liveable Neighborhood Project, which is in its early stages and will largely depend on securing funding. Is.

“For the Clerkenwell Road section, in 2023 we intend to upgrade the existing, intermittent ‘consultant’ cycle lanes to separate lanes, as well as for pedestrians and cyclists, where The road meets Gray Inn Road and Roseberry Avenue.”

TfL’s £45m transformation of the Old Street roundabout, which includes cycle lanes, has been behind schedule and cost overruns, with work not due to be finished until spring next year.

Helen Kansik, TfL’s Head of Healthy Roads Investments, said: “We are determined to reduce the risk to cycling across London and the new cycling infrastructure will play a key role in this.

“Our recent funding deal with the government makes it clear that investment in walking and cycling will continue to be significant. While this deal gives us less money to spend on active travel compared to pre-pandemic levels, we are working closely with cities to see where it is best targeted at making roads safer. can go.

“Roads along this corridor are controlled by Islington and Camden, who will be responsible for working with their residents to develop the changes needed to make them safer.

“We know that making this corridor safe is extremely important to all who cycle here and we will continue to work with both councils to support the development of these proposals.”

*Other events to mark World Car-Free Day include the conversion of a former petrol station in Borough Road into a “shelter for cycling” by bike firm Brompton.

A survey of 1,000 Londoners released today found that 61 percent supported the idea of ​​a once-a-week car-free day in the capital. Eighteen percent of the respondents were against the idea.

Oliver Lord, UK head of the Clean Cities campaign, said: “It’s clear Londoners want more car-free days and more often. I don’t understand why this happens regularly in places like Paris and New York, but If we’re lucky we’ll have to beg to bring them to London once a year.”


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