Cycling carnage cannot be allowed to become normal
31 August, 2017
THE sight of a crumpled bike frame and forensic tent pitched upon a Camden road gets no less chilling.
There is a familiar sequence of outrage, blame – and, of late, subdued acceptance.
It is nothing short of a disgrace that this carnage has been allowed to continue unabated.
The thought of the young cyclist’s packed lunch, scattered across the road in the debris of his bike, should serve as a reminder of how cycling has become the preferred mode of transport to work, and to college, for thousands of people in Camden every day.
It is a basic, almost banal mechanism for the majority. It is not a hobby or whim of the sporty middle classes. Cyclists can no longer be perceived of as a group of boy racers or wobbly women, dangers to themselves.
When, in 2011, the young London Metropolitan student Paula Jurek died under the wheels of a lorry in Camden Road the shock was palpable.
Her death was among the first in a dark chapter for capital that year – that included another young college student, Deep Lee, in King’s Cross – and brought heavy pressure on the then mayor of
London, Boris Johnson. Mary Bowers, the Times journalist, was also in that year left with severe brain damage after being crushed on her bike by a lorry – leading to a major campaign being launched in that newspaper.
The deaths have continued. And all the while our unelected body, Transport for London, has been dragging its heels when it should have been introducing basic changes.
It is too early to tell whether road layout changes would have saved a life this week. But segregated lanes, junction improvements, lamppost mirrors, would certainly not have made matters worse.
The cycling lobby has had much success over the years through its peaceful, almost passive approach to negotiating with City Hall and central government. But with the death of another young cyclist, it seems that a more radical approach is needed to shake this city into action. We hope readers – cyclists or not – will join the protest on Monday at 6pm.
Will CIP stay?
WITH the elevation of Councillor Theo Blackwell, architect of the much-debated Community Investment Programme, to higher spheres the question is: Will his legacy survive?
In theory CIP is an attractive proposition. But selling the family silver, for that is what CIP boils down to – the transfer of council-owned land use in to private hands – could be argued is both short-sighted and bad planning.
Apart from the arguable misuse of land owned by the taxpayer, CIP, in effect, dabbles in the most uncertain of all worlds, the property market. At present, the London market is uncertain. This partly explains the failure to sell any of the CIP flats built in Vicars Road, Gospel Oak, though they have been on the market for nearly six months.
With next year’s council election beckoning, the Labour leadership may be under pressure to modify or abandon the CIP.