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Cyclists slam council chiefs over palm tree death junction

Councillors oppose TfL safety scheme where Moira Gemmill was killed by a lorry

22 September, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

The Lambeth Bridge junction at Milbank

FURIOUS cycling campaigners have accused Westminster of putting cyclists’ lives in danger after councillors lobbied against a scheme designed to improve safety.

Transport for London want to make walking and cycling safer on Lambeth Bridge arguing the “hated and feared” roundabouts on either side of the river are among the most dangerous in the capital.

But Westminster Conservatives say the proposal will increase congestion and lead to the loss of a “much loved” palm tree which sits in the middle of the roundabout on the north side.

In 2015, celebrated designer Moira Gemmill was crushed to death by a lorry driver at Millbank. West- minster faced tough questions about why it had rejected proposals put forward by TfL to install safety features at the junction in 2013.

In the 10 years to 2015 some 40 “cycle crash events” were recorded close to the spot where Ms Gemmill was killed.
 Now campaigners are once again asking why the council appears to be “kicking the scheme into the long grass”.

Peter Hartley, of Westminster Living Streets, said: “I am outraged to see that once again Westminster is not dealing with the issues of cycling and pedestrian safety, only two years after a tragic death at the junction. “Every time Westminster prevaricates, lives are put in danger.”

TfL propose to convert both the northern and the southern roundabouts of Lambeth Bridge into crossroad junctions, with traffic signals and signalised pedestrian crossings. At each junction, dedicated space would be given for cyclists and new pedestrian areas would be created.

Traffic will be banned from turning right off Lambeth Bridge and diverted onto Horse-ferry Road. Traffic lights will also be installed at the junction of Millbank and Great Peter Street.
The consultation officially closed last month, but Vincent Square councillors pushed to have the deadline extended to Wednesday this week.

Councillors Danny Chalkley, David Harvey and Steve Summers said in a newsletter to residents: “This will result in a huge increase in traffic in Vincent Square with Horseferry Road becoming clogged and rat-running through the area as drivers try to avoid the resulting congestion increasing journey times and air pollution for all road users including cyclists.”

They also note the loss of the palm tree. St James’s ward councillors Louise Hyams, Tim Mitchell and Cameron Thomson also oppose the scheme.

In a tweet, council leader Nickie Aiken said the proposal “needs more thought”. Cycling campaigners blasted Westminster online for appearing to value the palm tree more than people’s safety.

Simon Munk, infrastructure campaigner at London Cycling Campaign, said: “We are deeply disappointed that a significant number of councillors oppose a scheme that will save lives.

Westminster have opposed this before, they have opposed [Cycle Superhighway] CS11, other cycling schemes in the borough. If they are going to oppose this then it is incumbent on them to bring forward another scheme which is safe and viable – not in five years but now. Anything else is just hollow words.”

A city council spokesman said: “The council is committed to making our streets safe and we appreciate the need to improve the road layout around Lambeth Bridge roundabout.

“Interim safety measures are now in place and we are working with TfL to find a permanent solution which protects all road users. The council has formally responded to the consultation setting out its views.”

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