Deadly Holborn roads claim life of yet another cyclist

Thursday, 3rd March — By Tom Foot

Holborn cycle death SIMON LAMROCK

The scene in Holborn on Tuesday [Simon Lamrock]

CAMPAIGNERS will – once again – stage a vigil tomorrow (Friday) as they demand radical changes to a network of dangerous roads after another young woman died while riding a bike in Camden.

The cyclist, in her late 30s, was killed in a collision with a heavy goods vehicle close to the tube station in High Holborn at around 10am on Tuesday.

Unnamed and with police yet to make contact with her next of kin as of yesterday (Wednesday), she is the eighth cyclist to die a violent death in a chaotic circuit of roads also known as the Holborn “gyratory”.

The London Cycling Campaign is demanding “rapid and bold” changes that go further than the tweaks to signage, bus stops and lanes layout that followed the death of cyclist Marta Krawiec, also in Holborn, in August last year.

Having faced criticism over “endless delays and excuses” following Ms Krawiec’s death, council and transport chiefs are admitting that “money is playing a role” and that they “may not be able to fix what we need to”.

Simon Munk, from the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), said: “Yet again, the Holborn system of one-ways and junctions has resulted in a fatal collision – the eighth since 2008. Rapid and bold change at this and all junctions at Holborn must happen now.

“More, we challenge all London boroughs and the mayor to not just wait for the next fatality at a junction known to be lethally dangerous for decades. Change must not come at this continuing cost.”

In October, Mr Munk had said the changes being introduced around Holborn “go nowhere near fixing the junction completely”.

The harrowing sight of a cordon and a police forensics tent was once again in place on Tuesday just a few metres from the spot where cyclist Alan

Neve died in a lorry collision in 2013.

Police said the HGV driver stopped at the scene and there were no arrests.

But yesterday (Wednesday) they were making fresh appeals for witnesses to come forward, in particular a woman who picked up the cyclist’s mobile phone and handed it to an officer.

Detective Rebecca Collens, from the serious collision investigations unit, said: “We are especially keen to speak to a woman who handed in the victim’s mobile phone after it fell to the floor during the collision. We also think she may have witnessed the collision itself.

“Likewise, if you were driving in the area, please check your dashcam for any recordings that may have captured this
collision.”

Camden Council in January launched work to make its road layout changes at the junction of Southampton Row and Theobalds Road permanent.

It had in the past suggested it would rip up the entire gyratory system around Holborn.

But it is now saying a cash crisis at TfL, exacerbated by a revenue collapse during Covid, was making long-term planning impossible.

Cllr Adam Harrison, the council’s transport chief, warned that “money played a role” in delays to works to make Holborn junction safe and that a new “rapid pace approach” was required.

“Uncertainty over what TfL can fund next means we may not be able to fix what we need to, and in discussions about other parts of the borough of Camden where I have concerns it is clear that the current situation means we are unable to plan properly for other, much-needed safety changes,” he added.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s cycling champion, Will Norman, said: “We’re working closely with Camden to make safety improvements to the junction further north on Holborn gyratory, where Dr Krawiec was killed. We’ve got a permanent plan for improvements to the whole area, but uncertainty around TfL’s funding due to Covid forced us to pause.”

The London Ambulance Service said: “We sent a paramedic in a fast-response car and an incident response officer to the scene. We also dispatched London’s Air Ambulance. The first of our medics arrived in under five minutes.

“Sadly, a person died at the scene.”

The LCC vigil is tomorrow (Friday) from 6pm.


Eight victims at blackspot

EIGHT cyclists have now died on a small network of roads around Holborn, despite calls to make the key route safe for people using bikes. Nearly every time, their deaths have led to calls for safety improvements, but the tragedy has kept on repeating like a terrible nightmare.

Wan-Cheng Chang, 31, a dancer, was killed in Southampton Row in 2008. Fashion student Dorothy Elder, 22, died the following year at a spot close by, being hit at almost the same spot as Dr Marta Krawiec.

Architecture expert Francis Golding was killed after a collision with a coach in 2013 on the other side of the junction, near Vernon Place.

Federica Baldassa, 26, also a fashion student, died in a very similar spot in 2015. Alan Neve, 54, died after a collision closer to Holborn station in 2013, as did Dr Peter Fisher in 2018.

Campaigners staged a die-in last summer when Dr Krawiec was killed after being knocked off her bike, again at the junction at Southampton Row.

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