Boris drops plans to remove lights at Islington’s busiest cycle crossing

CYCLISTS are celebrating after London Mayor Boris Johnson dropped controversial plans to scrap traffic lights at one of the capital’s busiest bike crossings.

Transport for London (TfL) caused uproar when it announced that traffic lights in St John Street, Finsbury, might be removed to “smooth traffic flow”.

Up to 1,000 cyclists an hour rely on the signals to cross safely from Owen Street to Chadwell Street on a dedicated cycle path which bypasses the dangerous Angel junction 150metres to the north.

But TfL has caved in to pressure to drop the plans after Islington Council – which has jurisdiction over St John Street – said the plans would “put lives at risk”.

Councillor Catherine West, Labour leader of Islington Council, said: “We aggressively opposed this. We put in a really good defence of that and they have backed off now.”

The lights were among 145 sets of signals across the capital on Mr Johnson’s hit list to cut journey times for London’s long-suffering motorists. The Mayor, who lives in nearby Colebrooke Row, and his transport chief Kulveer Ranger, had questioned whether the lights in St John Street were still “doing a useful job”.

John Ackers, of Islington Cyclists Action Group, said: “We were totally opposed to these lights being taken out. This crossing is massively used.

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“There are 1,000 cyclists an hour using it at peak commuter hours between 8am and 9am. This section of cycle path from Goswell Road is the most used cycle route in Islington.”

Cycling enthusiast George Allen, Liberal Democrat councillor for Clerkenwell, added: “This removes a major threat to the safety of the thousands of pedestrians and cyclists who use the junction every day. The proposal was always completely half-baked and its withdrawal merely prompts the question why it was ever suggested in the first place.”

Proposals to remove lights at the junctions of Liverpool Road and Islington Park Street, in Islington, and Roman Way and Mackenzie Road, in Holloway, have also been dropped.

A spokeswoman for TfL said the plans were always subject to consultation with Islington Council, and that they had “bowed to local knowledge” on the matter.

The spokeswoman added: “Although Islington Council has said they don’t want to progress discussions on the three potential sites we proposed, we would be happy to discuss any alternative suggested locations they might like to put forward, should they wish to do so.”