Cyclists plan blockade of deadly junction

Protesters say Transport for London is doing nothing to tackle the rise in fatal accidents
  • @kevinJrawlinson

Protesters plan to block one of London's busiest junctions today to highlight their anger at a 60 per cent rise in cycling deaths in the capital in two years.

The direct action group Bikes Alive is asking cyclists and pedestrians to descend at 6pm on the junction outside King's Cross station – where the 24-year-old Korean fashion student Min Joo Lee was killed in October last year – in the hope of calming traffic there for an hour.

They have vowed to repeat their protest, with the aim of closing down King's Cross for at least an hour a week, until changes are made by the capital's transport authority, Transport for London (TfL).

Albert Beale, of Bikes Alive, said of today's protest: "The event is the first step in a campaign to stop – by whatever non-violent means needed – the completely unnecessary level of deaths, injuries and fear inflicted by motorists on the more vulnerable. I urge cyclists to join us. And if you don't have a bike, bring your dancing shoes."

In December, TfL said it would make changes to the road network at the station, where four cyclists, including Miss Lee, have died in the past five years. Wendy Gay, Emma Foa and Madeleine Rosie Wright were also killed by lorries in the area. However, TfL said no major changes would take place before the Olympics this summer.

The cyclists' action reflects a growing anger in the capital at the soaring death rate of cyclists, a s highlighted by The Independent. Metropolitan Police figures show there were 10 deaths in 2009 and 13 in 2010. Nine of the 16 deaths in 2011 involved collisions with HGVs. Police said most were hit by vehicles turning left.

By far the worst region of the UK for cyclist injuries and deaths in 2010 was London, with 468 reported. The chief executive of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), Ashok Sinha, said: "Every few days, another London family is torn apart by the violent death of a loved one, killed needlessly on the capital's streets."

Figures from the transport experts John Pucher and Ralph Buehler show that the number of cyclist deaths per 100 million miles cycled between 2005 and 2008 was 3.6 in the UK, compared with 1.7 in Germany, 1.5 in Denmark and 1.1 in the Netherlands.

Lenny Shallcross, 34, who has cycled in London for about 10 years, said: "There is a level of inactivity on behalf of TfL which is difficult to comprehend. There has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of people who cycle in London recently and they are talking about improvements which will take three years."

Mr Shallcross said the Amsterdam model, with segregated cycle lanes, was the safest one. He attacked the recent move towards dedicated cycle lanes in London, which he called "a metre-wide lick of paint which is supposed to protect cyclists from a lorry".