20 August, 2018 — By William McLennan
Hundreds of cyclists brought traffic to a standstill in Holborn this evening in protest at the “lack of action” taken to improve road safety, following the fourth fatal collision in the area since 2013.
Dr Peter Fisher, a homeopathy expert and one of the Queen’s doctors, died in High Holborn on Wednesday morning in a collision with a lorry.
One of the capital’s most notorious black spots, known as the Holborn gyratory, was shutdown tonight during rush hour, while campaigners made rallying speeches demanding swift progress to make the streets safer.
Addressing the crowd, Terry Patterson, the chair of organisers the London Cycling Campaign, said: “For the sake of our great world capital of London we need people to switch from motor vehicles to active travel. Dr Fisher knew that and he paid the highest price.
“Dr Fisher’s legacy must be change. Enough is enough. No more delays. No more inaction. No more cyclists killed or seriously injured on London’s streets. This must end now.”
Terry Patterson lay a floral tribute to Dr Fisher at the junction
Moments later, Dr Fisher’s family laid flowers at the scene of his death, close to the junction with Newton Street.
They said in a statement: “We are all devastated by his sudden loss, as he had touched deeply so many of our lives.”
Among those to leave tributes at the scene were former patients of the doctor, who worked at the Royal Hospital of Integrated Medicine in Great Ormond Street. “You are irreplaceable and I thank God for you being in our lives on our journey of sickness,” it read.
Radio presenter Jeremy Vine said: “Cyclists are dying and somebody needs to get across it.”
Many of the cyclists present this evening recounted a grim sense of deja vu, having also joined the protests following previous tragedies.
Alan Neve, 54, died in a collision less than 200 metres away in 2013, sparking a similar protest, organised by the London Cycling Campaign, that once again saw hundreds take to the streets.
Federica Baldassa, a 26-year-old who had just landed her dream job in the fashion industry, was killed by a delivery lorry as she cycled along nearby Vernon Place in 2015.
Francis Golding, 69, a leading architectural consultants, was died after being hit by coach in Southampton Road in 2013.
Alex Raha, who commutes to work in Great Ormond Street, said it was “ridiculous” that no action had been taken since Mr Neve’s death five years ago.
“How many more people are going to be killed before something is done,” he asked.
BBC radio presenter Jeremy Vine joined the tail-end of the protest.
He told the New Journal: “I was just very upset to see the guy had died here. There are certain junctions, that all cyclists know are too dangerous. I’m just trying to stay alive because I have two young daughters.
“There are certain councils that don’t really prioritise cycling, but they are going to have to because shoppers don’t want to be doing their shopping next to four lanes of filthy traffic with kids. Cyclists are dying and somebody needs to get across it.”
Following Dr Fisher’s death, Alex Williams, Director of City Planning at TfL, said: “Our thoughts are with the friends and family of the cyclist who sadly died after a collision with a HGV this morning. We will assist the police as they investigate the circumstances. Any death on London’s roads is one too many. That’s why we are committed to a Vision Zero approach to eliminate deaths and serious injuries from London’s roads.”