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Another death: so where is the action that was promised?

16 August, 2018

Cyclist Alan Neve was killed in a collision with a tipper truck in 2013

THE long list of cyclist deaths in Camden, particularly in Holborn, makes long and depressing reading. As does the reaction from the council and Transport for London. Promises have been made, promises have been broken.

With each death comes an pledge, no doubt made earnest­ly, to meet the demands of the cycling revolution. Reviews. Improved junctions. Designs are sometimes unveiled. Consultations may be launched. Little is done when radical measures are needed.

In 2013, hundreds of cyclists descended on Holborn after the death of Alan Neve. The 54-year-old who worked at a Fitzrovia music agency was killed by a tipper truck at the junction of High Holborn and Kingsway. Months later Francis Golding – a 69-year-old architecture expert from Islington – died after a collision with a left-turning coach in nearby Vernon Place. In the surrounding streets more deaths, and countless serious injures, followed.

The scale of the task of changing the road layout in around Holborn is undoubt­edly a tall one. Funding will be hard to come by.

But it appears, in this case, that inertia has allowed this lethal pattern to continue.

Cycling campaigners last night reiterated warnings that progress on delivering safe space for cyclists, across London, had been “unaccept­ably slow”. They rightfully ask when will Mayor Sadiq Khan – who as the head of TfL has made significant promises about changes in London since taking office – get his act together? The process of changing lanes around Bloomsbury and King’s Cross has been painfully slow.

As have the changes at Swiss Cottage. The CS11 “cycle superhighway”, announced several ago, has been delayed and delayed again. Just last month, the changes to the outdated gyra­tory around the Odeon cinema were set back after a legal challenge in the High Court.

It is on these days – when someone dies – that the howls of discontent from drivers and residents worrying about displaced traffic is put into sharp perspective.

Missed buses

ALAN Rusbridger’s plea to save the C2 bus is wistful, almost nostalgic.

The Guardian editor warns of a “disservice” to residents in the north of the borough. On the face of it, proposals will see much of it maintained, through the extended 88, albeit with a new Routemaster.

But this is a serious matter. The loss of a bus service can have huge implications. It can cut people off from jobs and education, damage local shops and businesses. It can affect physical and mental health – and increase congestion and pollution as more cars jam the roads.

Transport for London is making several changes to bus routes through Camden: the 274 is going double decker; the fleet of 31s severely cut. The 268 and C11 buses – taking residents to the Whittington and the Royal Free – are arriving every 20 minutes. Where there’s a consultation, you can bet your life that cuts are on the cards.

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