Calls for borough to go car free after rise in number of crashes involving cyclists

Maps shows where cyclists were involved in collisions in Islington in 2018. Picture: Archant

Maps shows where cyclists were involved in collisions in Islington in 2018. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

There was an increase in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on Islington’s roads between 2014 and 2018, new data shows, prompting calls for cars to be banned in the borough.

Maria Bitner-Glindzicz. Picture: Norrie Disease Foundation

Maria Bitner-Glindzicz. Picture: Norrie Disease Foundation - Credit: Archant

The Department for Transport has published numbers on road traffic collisions for 2018, which shows two cyclists died and 47 were seriously injured in the borough last year.

There was a slight reduction in the total number of cyclists involved in collisions overall between 2014 and 2018, which fell from 267 to 260 incidents.

Islington's sole opposition councillor Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East) told the Gazette: "It is shocking to see the shameful lack of progress on tackling road danger in Islington.

"Most concerning is that 83 people were killed or seriously injured while walking or cycling in Islington in both 2017 and 2018.

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"Serious injuries are life changing. Not just one, but three women have each lost a leg in bike crashes along Clerkenwell Rd leading towards Old Street over the last five years. Seeing Victoria Lebrec brilliantly and bravely rebuild her life after her crash is inspiring, but it's not fair that she has to do it.

"The council's actions are not making a dent on these worrying figures, which are up from 62 people in 2014, 58 in 2015 and 49 in 2016.

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"I hope these terrible and rising figures will persuade my councillor colleagues that they do now need to keep track of the numbers of people being killed and seriously injured by motor traffic in our borough.

"If we don't even know what is happening, how will we ever take action to change this?"

Cllr Russell has been pushing for the council to report on figures for people killed and seriously injured in Islington's roads, so the environment and regeneration committee can properly scrutinise the town hall.

Donnachadh McCarthy, co-founder of campaign group Stop Killing Cyclists, told the Gazette: "If Islington Council is serious about the climate emergency, they need to make Islington a car-free borough.

"That in turn would do three things.

"It would mean Islington would have cleaner air; it would have safer streets for our kids; and it would help tackle the climate emergency.

"The time for action is now."

Genetics professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz died when she was "doored" by a van driver as she cycled in St John Street on September 19. It sent her into the path of an overtaking taxi. The van driver died before he could be prosecuted.

Soren Aarlev, an architect of Haggerston, died days after a driver hit him in Percival Street on July 6.

Islington Council's environment and transport chief Cllr Claudia Webbe said: "The council is committed to reducing all deaths and serious injuries on the borough's roads to zero.

"There are no circumstances where deaths or serious injury of vulnerable road users are acceptable. It's also the case that a disproportionate number of victims are people who are walking, cycling or riding motorbikes, which is an unacceptable pattern across London. [...]

"As set out in our draft Transport Strategy, the council is committed to changing our streets to encourage people to walk and cycle rather than drive. We will create low traffic neighbourhoods and healthy streets by closing roads and rebalancing our streets in favour of pedestrians and cyclists - and this includes taking enforcement action to prevent HGVs and lorries using residential streets, improving pedestrian crossing points and remove dangerous junctions replacing them instead with more public spaces and protected cycling.

"We will also continue to close roads outside schools at pick-up and drop-off times, to prevent road incidents, improving air quality and encouraging more active travel."

She said Islington has already met a target set by Sadiq Khan in 2017, as 80 per cent of people in the borough travel by foot, bicycle or on public transport.

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