LCC member Jonathan Kelly is a co-founder of the new Better Streets for Kensington & Chelsea group, and Divisional Manager of Barts Heart Centre at St Bartholomew Hospital. He’s helped and encouraged his staff to cycle to work during the coronavirus crisis and he’s also been instrumental in Brompton’s scheme to loan bikes to NHS staff across London for free.
Jonathan was already in talks with Brompton on behalf of the hospital before the coronavirus crisis hit and they were keen to help. He put them in touch with NHS London, and Brompton are now loaning their bikes for 30 days to NHS staff for free – and will extend the scheme as long as the crisis lasts. Two hundred NHS workers in London have taken up the offer so far, with over 500 registered for the scheme.
“The pandemic has really made our staff think about how to get to work,” says Jonathan. “We have to avoid the risk of infection on crowded tube trains and buses. Those who own cars and live ten or more miles away have started driving because there’s no congestion charge, but for those who live nearer and don’t own cars, a bike is the only real option. Especially with such quiet roads right now.”
Jonathan cycles to work daily along the notoriously dangerous Holland Park Avenue, where Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea council are debating a road safety scheme, Cycleway 10. Normally it’s hellish, but now, “I could do the entire journey with my eyes shut. It’s empty.”
Of the 20 or so staff at Bart’s Heart Centre who have just started cycling to work, about half are women. Zoe Carter, a cardiac physiologist at St Bart’s, hadn’t cycled since living in London but took up the free Brompton offer to avoid the tube. Another is Sandra Mulrennan, a clinical nurse specialist, who hadn’t cycled since she moved to London from Cambridgeshire.