Londoners concerned about the safety of cyclists in the city are being invited to attend a second ‘die-in’ protest weeks after around 1,000 people attended a similar event outside the Southwark headquarters of Transport for London (TfL).
Dubbed a ‘Requiem Die-In,’ the scene for Thursday morning’s protest will be Vauxhall Cross and it starts at 7.30am, coinciding with rush hour. People attending are asked to bring white sheets with them to cover their bodies as they lie on the ground.
Like last month's event (pictured above), It is being organised by the group Stop Killing Cyclists, who describes themselves as a “a radical peaceful cycling protest movement in London.”
They say the protest aims to:
• remember all victims of this treacherous intersection
• highlight the plight of cyclists who are forced from a segregated lane into potentially lethal traffic on the Southern approach to Vauxhal Bridge and
• call for an extension of the existing cycle-specific infrastructure.
So far, more than 200 people have confirmed on the event’s Facebook page that they will be attending, with over 100 others saying they may go.
Last month’s protest came after six cyclists died on London’s streets in a two-week period in the first half of November, all of them in collisions with large vehicles.
Ahead of the November die-in, organiser Donnachadh McCarthy McCarthy said the group was inspired by the example of Dutch protesters in the early 1970s who campaigned under the banner Stop de Kindermoord (Stop the Murder of Children), a reference to the hundreds of children killed there each year after being hit by vehicles.
He said: “We Londoners are going to join the Dutch, and follow them until we get our roads safe.
“So I respectfully ask you now, London cyclists and pedestrians and drivers who have come to join us today, to lie on the pavement with your bicycles, turn on your lights and let them flash in the memories of people killed and injured in the last eight years.”
He also pointed out that no cycling or pedestrian groups were represented on the board of TfL.
Leader of Southwark Council, Peter John, agreed that was something that needed addressing, and told BBC London News: “If we are going to follow a Dutch-style approach it will mean re-defining and re-planning how traffic moves around our capital, in a way that we haven’t really had before.
“That needs strategic overview, that needs the mayor to bring councils together... and he needs to do it soon.”
However, in response to last month’s vigil, London’s cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan, appointed by Boris Johnson earlier this year, suggested protesters were being deliberately provocative in making demands that they knew could not be met.
Writing on the Talk London website, he said: “One of the demo’s demands is for a ‘ban on any vehicles whose drivers cannot see adjacent road users’ – in other words, a ban on lorries.
“This would, of course, cripple London’s economy, empty the supermarkets and throw hundreds of thousands out of work overnight.
“Maybe the die-in people just haven’t thought about their demands. Worse, maybe they have – and are deliberately asking for things they know neither we, nor any administration, can give, so we can then be accused of selling out.
“The problem, I suppose, for the diers-in is that we have a highly ambitious cycling programme. What can they ask us to do that we’re not doing already? ... We promise to do a huge network of cycle routes by 2016 – so the demand becomes for an even bigger network, to be finished even sooner.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.