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Cycle death: Why was road safety plan delayed?

INVESTIGATION: Move to make road where cyclist was killed safer was 'kicked into long grass'

31 August, 2017 — By Tom Foot, William McLennan

A police forensic tent at the scene of Tuesday’s collision

TRANSPORT chiefs had drawn up plans for major safety changes to a notorious stretch of road where a cyclist was killed this week – but the project got kicked into the long grass.

The New Journal can reveal that Transport for London (TfL) met with cycling lobby groups three years ago to discuss a range of designs it had produced for Camden Road, near the junction with Brecknock Road. Its proposals included introducing a segre­gated cycle lane, but this week TfL said a scheme to improve safety was still “in the works”.

A man in his 30s was killed while cycling along the same stretch of road on Tuesday morning following a collision with a lorry.

A “die-in” protest at the spot has been organised for next week with hundreds of cyclists promising to block the road and call for urgent changes.

John Chamberlain, co-ordinator at the Camden Cycling Campaign, said: “There was one scheme in 2014 that was supposed to be taken further – but didn’t go anywhere. There was another in 2004. To be honest, there have been quite a number of good schemes in the Camden area that simply haven’t happened.”

He added: “Of course, we cannot say whether these schemes would have protected against this tragic incident. My personal opinion is that what is happening is that there are people with good aspirations within TfL, but there are too many different interests. For example, there are big concerns about bus delays going up. It’s all to do with priorities. There are other roads in London like this one where changes have been made. How important is the bus lane? Cycling is on the up and up. You can’t keep kicking it into the long grass. You have to make compromises.”

Minor changes, including trixi-mirrors and stop boxes, were introduced at the junction of Camden Road with St Pancras Way following the death of Paula Jurek in 2011. The 20-year-old London Metropolitan University student died after being hit by a left-turning lorry.

Cyclist Paula Jurek died after a collision in Camden Road in 2011

The New Journal has reported on several accidents and serious crashes on the road over the past decade. A witness to Tuesday’s tragedy told the New Journal that the accident happened at a point where the road “pinches” from two lanes into one.

Frank Mingo, a quantity surveyor who lives nearby, said: “Two guys got out of the car and were crying and wailing. It was awful. There was a bus-load of people and a woman cycling past in the other direction who saw it happen.”

Mr Mingo added: “It’s the narrowing of the two lanes to one that causes all the problems.”

The New Journal reports on cycle safety in Camden Road six years ago

Organisers of Monday’s die-in – scheduled for 6pm – said the demo would draw large numbers. Caspar Hughes, from Stop Killing Cyclists, said this was also fuelled by a resentment towards how cyclists have been written about in the wake of the Charlie Alliston case – a courier convicted of causing bodily harm to a woman who died following a collision in Old Street.

Mr Hughes added: “Eleven pedestrians have been killed by drivers since [nationally] but there is nowhere near the same level of outrage. Because of this, because of the state of play – the resentment within the cycling community – it could be much more than normal. We’ve got speakers lined up and from 6pm there will be a die-in. We’ll shut the road on Monday.”

TfL said it could not comment on its plans for Camden Road as designs were not yet complete.

Leon Daniels, managing director of Surface Transport, said: “Our deepest sympathies go out to the friends and family of the man killed this morning while cycling along Camden Road. Every death on London’s road is one too many and we are committed to making all roads safer.”

Police said the woman driver of the Ford Transit stopped at the scene and was initially arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving but was “de-arrested at the scene and was interviewed under caution at a north London police station”.

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