Remember those who lost lives on dangerous roads

Simon Izod, Low Traffic Islington, writes:

In light of the recent tragic death of paediatrician Dr Marta Krawiec who was killed in a horrific collision with a left turning lorry at the deadly Holborn gyratory whilst cycling to work, it feels appropriate to reflect on road traffic danger in Islington.

In the current debate about People Friendly Streets we often seem to forget about those who have tragically lost their lives too early or have been on the receiving end of life changing injuries. According to Islington’s transport strategy, in 2019 there were 111 killed or seriously injured on our roads in Islington. That’s roughly over 100 families who will be severely impacted each year due to the design of our roads prioritising motor cars over people, not to mention the additional avoidable strain placed on our emergency services.

Dr Marta Krawiec is the seventh person to have been killed at the Holborn gyratory, which could have been avoided had plans promised by TfL and Camden Council in 2019 been carried out. This should serve as a warning to Islington Council and TfL that it’s imperative that they roll out protected cycle tracks and safe junctions across Islington. It’s particularly frustrating that the notorious Clerkenwell Road/Old Street route has not been made safe despite promises made by Islington council over many years. This is a route where in recent years three women, Victoria Lebrec, Julie Dinsdale and Sarah Doone have each lost a leg in lorry crashes. There are also several junctions included in TfL’s Safer Junctions programme that are still waiting to be completed.

On a positive note, a new study has found that road injuries have halved in in low-traffic neighbourhoods installed during the coronavirus pandemic when compared against areas without the schemes. With Islington council leading the country in rolling out their People Friendly Streets, and assuming the programme is rolled out successfully across the borough, the misery caused by road danger will significantly reduce. This would be a huge step forward. In addition, we will need TfL and Islington Council to work together to ensure all junctions are safe for pedestrians and cyclists and that protected bike lanes are rolled out on all main roads. If that happens then we will be a long way towards the council’s transport strategy goal to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries on Islington streets. That really would be a truly fitting way to honour those lives who have been wrecked by our dangerous roads.

No end to misery at roundabout

Islington Gazette: What Old Street roundabout will look like after the work is completedWhat Old Street roundabout will look like after the work is completed (Image: TfL, Islington Council and Hackney Council)

Sebastian Sandys, City Road, Islington, writes:

The misery, threats to life and limb, and daily inconveniences to those of us who live on about the Old Street roundabout continue.

Only this week, yet another slick, well written and expensively produced letter from TfL dropped through our letterboxes detailing the latest upset we may expect to our lives.

I am sure it’s all for the best in the long run. After all, who would doubt former Cllr Webbe’s words when she told us in 2019 that the project will “improve air quality and help make the area greener, healthier and a more attractive place to live, work, play and do business.”

In the meantime though, whether it be the closure of pedestrian crossings, the suspension of cycle lanes and residents loading bays, or the recalibration of traffic light sequencing to favour the motorist, the assertion that “this project will improve safety particularly for pedestrians and cyclists” really does have an air of jam tomorrow about it.

There is precious little jam today as our daily lives continue to be made miserable by people who do not live here.

Take direct action – give up your car

Islington Gazette: The cycle lane in Liverpool Road, IslingtonThe cycle lane in Liverpool Road, Islington (Image: André Langlois)

Islington Clean Air, @London Parklets, Cycle,,, Islington Living, write:

The much awaited publication of the IPCC report on the impacts of Climate Change in early August contained, as we knew it would, dire warnings about the effects of humans on our climate. We’ve known for decades that we need to act but kicking the difficult stuff into the long grass was how “our leaders” mishandled the situation. Lots of talk, some commitments being made but oh so little visible action.

When faced with an unknown virus, emergency action was taken. We’ve all lived through it and whether you agree with exactly how it was dealt with or whether you think other political parties would have done a better job is now irrelevant. Climate change is with us and no-one can deny that it’s real and we have to act. It’s an emergency. We can’t wait for politicians to make their tortuous arguments and score political points – we’re way beyond that. We can’t wait for COP26 in November in Glasgow to toll the bells of climate doom. It’s easy to feel totally powerless, to wring our hands for our children's futures and to sit tight hoping for a miracle which won’t happen.

As individuals, we need to crack on and do what each of us can do at a micro level. The old saying of “many pebbles make a beach” sums up what we need to do so here are some ideas which were showcased at a recent community event here in Islington. Join local volunteer groups and campaign for more trees (which provide shade, clean the air and store carbon and water). The shade of a mature tree can help cool your home or office building by as much as 20 degrees in summer.

Leave the car at home (26 per cent of Islington residents own cars), get on a bike or walk for shorter journeys (less polluting and good for general health). Road traffic generates 75pc of PM10 emissions generated within Islington (including exhaust emissions and brake/tyre wear).

Support the rollout of People Friendly Streets throughout the borough to stop the endless ‘through’ traffic polluting our streets, doing nothing for Islington residents except leaving a trail of noxious air and frightening our vulnerable road users.

Don’t believe the “evs are the solution” as they aren’t; think about getting rid of your car altogether and free up a parking space for a beautiful green community parklet (being in a green space has proven health benefits; cements local communities, growing food and flowers locally).

Having somewhere to sit and rest makes it possible for people to walk double the distance they normally would, enabling those with mobility issues to retain more independence.

If you were in Canonbury on August 8, various groups were steadfastly handing out leaflets in the sometimes torrential rain (what climate change) and the vast majority of passers-by were very positive about the projects being talked about. People loved the low traffic neighbourhoods and the quieter, safer streets.

They were keen to find empty treepits which could be used for one of the 200 trees coming to Islington in the autumn. The pop-up parklet made them smile. They were interested in cycling - indeed many people said that they already owned or hired bikes, as they felt there was no need for a car here in Islington.

It was very encouraging to see that people are already - whether they recognise it or not - acting to support the climate by making changes in their own lifestyles, changes which when multiplied by millions of people WILL make a difference. But we need to do so much more.

Come and join one of the groups who were on the streets and help make those vital differences which will slow down our descent into floods, fires and poverty. And start now before we run out of time.