Cyclists stage a ‘die-in’ outside the Town Hall on Wednesday
A YOUNG woman who had her leg amputated after being crushed by a lorry has branded delays to cycling improvements in the area “insulting”.
Victoria Lebrec was lucky to survive the horror crash at the junction of Clerkenwell Road and St John Street three years ago. Aged 24 at the time, she was only saved because a London Air Ambulance doctor successfully performed an emergency procedure at the roadside to stop her bleeding to death.
She later met senior figures from Islington Council, Transport for London (TfL) and the London Mayor’s office to work on improvements to the road that runs from Old Street to Clerkenwell.
But three years on, Ms Lebrec said not enough has been done as she spoke out at a cyclists “die-in” outside the Town Hall on Wednesday evening. She said nothing had changed since the death of Harriet Tory at the same spot nine years previously.
“Nothing changed after Harriet’s death and if Islington Council had taken action then a lot of suffering on my behalf and my family’s behalf would have been stopped,” said Ms Lebrec.
Speaking about the meeting, she said: “All of the plans were drawn up and more or less ready to go and I felt encouraged that, despite what had happened to me, at least the powers that be had taken notice and seemed committed to preventing collisions like mine happening again.”
“Works haven’t begun and public consultation will be well into next year,” she added. “That’s three years since the plans were originally drawn up. Three years is a really unacceptable length of time and there is no way that traffic modelling takes that long to do.
“I think Islington Council should know that it is insulting to me and the victims of these collisions to delay any further. The longer these plans take to be put into effect, the more people are going to die. Truthfully one of my biggest fears is that somebody else dies or has a life-changing accident at the junction I had mine.”
Ms Lebrec, who now has an artificial leg, made national headlines when she hugged and forgave the driver of the lorry, saying he had “just made a mistake”.
Wednesday’s protest, where cycling campaigners stopped traffic in Upper Street, was called in memory of Jerome Roussel, who died in June, seven weeks after hitting a stationary lorry in Pentonville Road – a road which is controlled by TfL, not the council. Organiser Donnachadh McCarthy led the crowd with chants of “shame on Islington Council” after citing the fact that the borough has not built any segregated cycleways in 20 years.
Opposition councillor Caroline Russell said after the protest: “In a borough where a majority have no access to a car – and many of those that do have cars use them infrequently – it’s shameful so little is being done to fix the traffic-dominated hostile roads and make them good places to walk and to ride a bike.”
A similar protest was held in Camden Road in September, at the spot where Albanian national Ardian Zagani was killed after being struck by a van. That too is a TfL road.
It came just days after campaign group Cycle Islington wrote an open letter to Islington’s transport chief Claudia Webbe after their own members accused them of being too “restrained” in their criticism of the council.