Local Death, Local Action
* For immediate release *
For the third time this year, Stop Killing Cyclists, the cycling activist group, will commemorate a person killed by a lorry while riding her bicycle, with a vigil and die-in for Federica Baldassa who died on the evening of Friday, 6 February.
Everyone who cycles or walks in London is invited to the site of this tragedy, Vernon Place, Bloomsbury Square, WC1A on Monday, 16 February, at 6pm, on a bike, or on foot.
These vigils are sadly becoming far too frequent in London, as the group seeks to draw attention to the terrible cost of traffic violence in our city. Last week, 300 people converged on Homerton High St to remember Akis Kollaros, bringing traffic to a halt as they lay on the road with their bikes observing a two minute silence.
The last few weeks have seen announcements of two major initiatives to make cycling safer for Londoners, the new protected routes on which work is already underway  and the Safer Lorry Scheme due to start in September . These are a start, but more must be done if Londoners are to be safe on their bicycles.
Stop Killing Cyclists calls on Camden Council and Transport for London to truly recognise that cycling must be a priority for road design and transport planning if London is to become a safe place for everyone to cycle, not just the fit and the brave, but the pensioner, the child, the parent taking children to school, the ordinary person going about their daily business.
Transport for London must appoint cycling representatives to its board, to balance the representatives of the HGV and taxi industries. It should allocate 10% of its budget to cycling provision, and ensure that every facet of road maintenance, building and planning considers the needs of cyclists.
Camden Council must take immediate action to improve provision for cyclists in this area. After the death of Francis Golding only a few meters away on the corner of Vernon Place and Southhampton Row, the Coroner called for an investigation. Camden Council investigated but did nothing, citing a lack of space and funding , and now another person has died. It is time for Camden Council, and TfL, to give priority to the needs of the growing number people who cycle, and for central Government to increase funding available to meet those needs.
Vigil Co-organiser Abby Taubin said:
We must put an end to these terrible tragedies and invest in making our roads safe for all who use them.
Release Dated: 12 February 2015
Facebook Event Listing: https://www.facebook.com/events/1549959765290811/
. Cycle superhighways scheme given green light. BBC News. [Online] February 4, 2015. [Cited: February 9, 2015.] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-31132101.
. Unsafe lorries ‘bannedā from London to protect cyclists. BBC News. [Online] February 6, 2015. [Cited: February 9, 2015.] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-31161801.
. Camden Council. Report on prevention on future deaths following the inquest touching the death of Francis Nelson Golding. Camden Council. [Online] May 2014. http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/cms-service/download/asset?asset_id=3222685.
Stop Killing Cyclists is the direct action protest group set up in November 2013 after the terribleĀ spate of cyclist killings in London. They arranged the first mass Die-In at TfL HQ where 1,500 cyclists laid down in the road in protest at lack of safety investment in London.
One thought on “Press Release - Local Death, Local Action at Vernon Place, Holborn”
Each tragedy like this should be providing clear learning points, in a publicly available form, as happens for air rail and marine transport modes. We also need to recognise that in almost every crash there is an element however small of what the victim might have done differently - that additional awareness which might have alerted them to the impending move by the driver of the truck, as much as the protocols and provisions which might eliminate the core hazard in the first place (this is very much the case for the site of 2 other identical deaths at the next junction on Vernon Place, where no large vehicle should be turning left with the current road geometry, but making 3 right turns instead.
For rail, air and marine incidents the full investigation can take many months, BUT within 2 weeks, often less, the investigation branches will publish a statement of the known facts, and their intention (or not) to carry out a full investigation, or a shorter report, if there is nothing to gain from a revisiting of an event which mirrors a previous one. We need this urgently - it is over a month since a driver lost control of a bin lorry and killed 6 pedestrians, with detail emerging in dribs and drabs, and speculation filling in the blanks. We have to stop this - after any fatal crash a clear objective statement of the sequence of events within a week - two weeks at most. No ‘blameā, no hypotheses, no reconstruction and quantitative analysis - just a bare statement of facts and the detail of the investigation taking place.
The left turn here, with a recently relocated bus stop practically at the corner (so many drivers are turning left from the right hand lane with a bus filling the space on the left), provides an enhanced quota of potential hazards, and I suspect some interesting learning points about how this needs to be managed, to avoid any future serious collisions, at this point.