Seven cyclist deaths are emphatically seven too many

Friday, 13th August 2021

Dr Marta Krawiec

Dr Marta Krawiec was killed while cycling to one of her patients

THE failure to introduce full road safety changes in Holborn must rank as one of the biggest shambles in Camden’s recent history.

For over a decade, cyclists and grieving relatives have been calling on politicians in the Town Hall and City Hall to get their act together.

Seven cyclists have now lost their lives at an infamous patch of the road network.

Theobalds Road is one of the busiest corridors for cyclists in London, linking the West End with Islington and Hackney.

Ideological cuts to funding could be blamed for Boris Johnson’s inertia at City Hall. But Sadiq Khan’s City Hall seems just as hamstrung.

Both mayors proved popular at the polls while presiding over an obdurate, clunking transport authority.

Khan’s administration seems particularly incapable of getting things done. From Oxford Street pedestrianisation to CS11, major projects have fallen by the wayside.

Transport for London blames Covid for delaying the planned overhaul of Holborn. And yet it seems as if every single street in Camden has some sort of utility or broadband improvement works going on.

Construction work has carried on regardless of the pandemic. As thousands of Camden residents begin cycling back to work they have found temporary traffic lights blocking tried and tested routes.

Many will find themselves pushed back onto main roads, like the hectic and frenzied junction in Holborn.

Every hour, hundreds of cyclists could be seen whizzing past the flowers for Dr Marta Krawiec this week, (Paediatrician cyclist was killed ‘on way to one of her patients’ following lorry collision, August 5).

The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) makes the point in its petition that, welcome as segregated cycle lanes, advanced stop lines and lower traffic neighbourhood schemes are, it is main road junctions that are most in need of change.

Too many of the temporary schemes introduced in Camden simply ignore the junctions – where nearly every serious collision occurs.

After the terrible tragedy last week, the council and Transport for London put out press statements that were remarkably similar.

Announcements made in the wake of previous Holborn cyclist deaths, in 2013 and again in 2018, were bold. There were clear messages that the gyratory would be “ripped up” to meet the needs of the “cycling revolution”.

But this time there appears to be no real commitment to when this work will be done. Both begin with the same line that every death is “one too many”.

In a truly progressive society, one death alone would be enough to bring about immediate change. But seven people have died while this sorry saga has dragged on and nothing has been done.

As the LCC says, no more delays, no more excuses. Inaction costs lives.

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