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Cyclists call for tree-lined boulevard to make route through Holborn safe

Four deaths in five years at accident blackspot

30 August, 2018 — By William McLennan

Protesters in Holborn last week, close to the scenes of four cyclist deaths in five years

CYCLING campaigners have urged the Mayor of London to adopt plans for a “tree-lined boulevard” that will run through Clerkenwell, Bloomsbury and Holborn.

Support for the so-called London Boulevard, which would connect Old Street roundabout with Tottenham Court Road, was reiterated this week after the fourth cycling fatality at an accident blackspot in Holborn within five years.

The plans, developed by London Cycling Campaign (LCC), are intended to provide cyclists and pedestrians with a safer route along Clerkenwell Road, Theobalds Road, Bloomsbury Way and New Oxford Street.

Dr Peter Fisher, a global leader in homeopathy and doctor to the Queen, was killed in a collision with a lorry in High Holborn on August 15, sparking a mass protest over the lack of action to improve road safety.

John Chamberlain, of Camden Cycling Campaign, said yesterday (Wednesday) that the boulevard would be “part of the answer” to tackling the notorious Holborn gyratory, providing safe passage for cyclists and pedestrians heading east-to-west and vice versa.

He urged Sadiq Khan to back the proposals, adding: “It would send a message that the Mayor is actually going to do something. A lot of the stuff that’s been going on is legacy from the previous mayor. There’s lots of positive noises, but we’re not seeing anything on the ground.”

The London Boulevard proposals are intended to improve air quality and help business with “increased footfall from customers who want to linger,” according to LCC Camden Council is understood to be broadly supportive of the proposals, but is first focusing on plans to tackle the Holborn gyratory – a circuit of congested one-way roads, including Southampton Row, High Holborn, Vernon Place and Bloomsbury Way.

The New Journal revealed last week that the council had developed proposals to remove the gyratory in 2015, but they were blocked by Transport for London, then answering to Boris Johnson, because of the impact on traffic.

Fran Graham, of the LCC, said that the London Boulevard would not entirely end the dangers of the Holborn gyratory, which would still require “significant improvement” for people travelling north-south. She said the boulevard would involve a combination of “segregated cycle tracks or traffic reduction”, where “narrow sections may be bus and cycle only”. “We are not imagining it will be one-size fits all, but we do think there is a solution to make this run of roads safer,” she said.

Transport for London’s director of strategy and network development Ben Plowden said: “We welcome any ideas that could reduce road danger, clean up London’s air and make our streets healthier. “We’re committed to a Vision Zero approach to eliminate deaths and serious injuries from London roads and are working with the boroughs on proposals to reduce danger on the Holborn gyratory and the wider network in the area.”

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