21 Aug 2018
Photo: Daniel Glasser
Last night, around 500 cyclists gathered, rode and blocked Holborn junction to protest the lack of progress on making London “a byword for cycling”.
The protest ride, organised by LCC, stopped at the infamous junction of High Holborn, Southampton Row and Kingsway for speeches and to lay flowers in memory of the latest fatality in the area. Dr Peter Fisher, 67, was killed just metres from the junction by a lorry on Wednesday 15 August. He is the eighth cyclist to die on London streets this year, and the fourth to die in the immediate vicinity of this junction, and on the one-way tangle of streets around it, in the last five years.
Photo: Daniel Glasser
People gathered on Russell Square from 17:30 on Monday evening, the road gradually filling with cyclists. At 18:00, it set off down Southampton Row, before swinging around the Holborn Gyratory, spreading out to cover all four lanes of traffic.
Photo: Daniel Glasser
The ride paused at the junction of High Holborn, Southampton Row and Kingsway, bringing the area to a standstill as bicycle bells rang out.
“The impression of a sea of cyclists keeping a silence loud enough to deafen the traffic noise, near the spot where Peter Fisher lost his life, will remain with me for a long time. I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the London Cycle Campaign for marking the loss of one of UK homeopathy’s great champions, and for demanding action to prevent further futile deaths. It was a privilege to be part of this dignified and heartfelt effort. Thank you.” Suse Moebius, Director, Society of Homeopaths
After speeches and a moment of silence while flowers were laid for Dr Fisher, the ride continued around to Bloomsbury Square Gardens.
Dr Fisher’s death follows a pattern of recent fatalities and serious collisions at junctions long-known to be too dangerous, and where action has long been promised, but never delivered. As well as Holborn, other collisions including an earlier fatality this year at Woolwich roundabout have highlighted the need for far more urgent action on these notorious spots.
The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, not only promised prior to election to make London “a byword for cycling”, he pledged, during LCC’s Sign for Cycling campaign, to triple the mileage of protected cycle tracks on main roads and complete the Better Junctions programme. Since his election, his Transport Strategy has promised a “Vision Zero” for London, with no more collisions that cause fatal or serious injuries by 2041. However, progress on these promises has been far too slow – the few kilometres of track Khan has completed are legacy schemes from Boris Johnson’s mayoralty. And despite putting several junctions through consultation, construction is conspicuously absent – to date, Khan has yet to tame a single junction, while TfL is advancing schemes at places like Camberwell Green, Vauxhall Nine Elms and Croydon Fiveways which clearly fail on safety.
In the case of the Holborn junction, Camden have long called for changes to these streets, but a recent scheme nearby offered little safety improvements for cycling. Even progressive boroughs like Camden are failing to move fast enough and get the funding they need. But many other boroughs are getting away with far worse. Westminster Councillors opposed changes to the notorious Lambeth Bridge north roundabout on the basis (partly) of removal of a palm tree, and are attempting to permanently block Cycle Superhighway 11 from construction, including opposing changes to the notorious Swiss Cottage gyratory. The result of their opposition is that these schemes have stalled. The Mayor does not appear able or willing to deal with boroughs that won’t deliver on cycling and walking safety.
The result is that from Johnson’s 33 “Better Junctions” list, seven remain without plans (including the Woolwich Road/A1020 roundabout, where there has been a fatality this year), 12 have been consulted on and not constructed, and 11 of the 14 that have been finished still feature significant safety issues. Khan has since added a further 77 to the “Safer Junctions” list for improvement, but is yet to complete construction on a junction on that list that was not part of a legacy project.
Prior to a two minutes silence and laying of the flowers, speakers from Camden Cycling Campaign and London Cycling Campaign spoke at the protest:
“I speak for everyone at London Cycling Campaign and the wider cycling community to offer our deepest sympathy at this time. Everyone who cycles and everyone who wants to cycle but sees the danger, cannot help but be affected by this tragedy,” said Terry Patterson, Chair of Trustees, London Cycling Campaign. “We are here to mourn, but we are also here to protest. Dr Fisher died on a route which is known to be dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists. This must end now. Too many times we have been asked to speak at similar vigils across London over the years, when warning signs have been obvious and councils alerted to the danger- but no action has been taken. Delays, inaction and lack of political will are leading directly to deaths and serious injuries on the streets of London. This must end now.”
Photo: Chun Chiu
“Sadiq has one and a half years to go. Demand for cycling was growing even as he began his tenure. The evidence for providing space for cycling has never been more overwhelming,” said Steven Edwards, Camden Cycling Campaign. “Sadiq said he likes the idea of a car free day. How about the 15th August? Each year. In commemoration of Dr Peter Fisher? Make ‘Cycle To Work Day’, a car-free day!”
Fran Graham, Campaigns Coordinator, London Cycling Campaign said “The delays, the excuses and the obstruction of projects that will make things safer for cyclists and pedestrians must end now. Road deaths must end now. Political inaction must end now.”