Westminster City Council has come under fire for "mindboggling" road casualty statistics and transport policy that prioritises motor traffic flow over safety following a die-in to commemorate the second cyclist killed on its streets this year.
At last night's vigil for cyclist Moira Gemmill, who was killed after a collision with a lorry on Millbank in London on April 9, campaigners were united in their criticism of the council and echoed earlier calls for the resignation of its transport director, Martin Low.
Gemmill, who was praised for her work with the V&A and recent appointment by the Queen to Windsor Castle's Royal Collection Trust, was the fifth cycling fatality in London this year, all of whom died following collisions with HGVs.
Peter Hartley, Chair of Westminster Living Streets, said: "The statistics are absolutely clear: last year on Westminster's roads seven people were killed, 169 were critically injured and a mindboggling 1700 people were casualties."
Hartley says he is "disgusted with the officials and the councillors at Westminster City Council" and called the council's Transport department "not fit for purpose". He reiterated Stop Killing Cyclists' Donnachadh McCarthy's recent calls for the resignation of Martin Low, Westminster's director of transport.
"The proposals for segregating this very junction, were brought to Westminster three years ago they rejected it on some fatuous grounds about protecting motorcycles," said Hartley.
He pointed out the City of Westminster "has no segregated streets whatsoever".
"We're going to have the nightmare scenario of cyclists coming off the new cycle superhighway [CS5] onto Westminster streets to be killed and critically injured. And a pedestrian strategy, which they are working on now, with no mention of 20mph, nothing about the terrible pollution in the city and no pedestrian friendly streets".
He added his group, along with local campaigners including Westminster Cyclists, RoadPeace, and the CTC are joining forces to "demand that Westminster Council acts".
Mustafa Arif, London Cycling Campaign's Chair of Campaigns and Active Membership, said: "Moira's killing, coming as it did whilst she was cycling to work, highlights the frailty all of us feel while cycling in this city of ours without any adequate infrastructure where the roads have been prioritised for the efficient movement of motor vehicles over the safety of people".
Arif called it "particularly galling and extremely frustrating" that in 2012 the London Cycling Campaign held a workshop with Transport for London, Westminster City Council, local walking and cycling campaigners and experts from the Netherlands, during which they redesigned the junction together.
"Those proposals were drawn up in early 2013 and since then there has been no action".
Following consultation on those proposals, Transport for London said: "Having considered responses to consultation, and following concerns voiced by Westminster City Council, we have decided not to proceed with these planned initial improvements at Lambeth Bridge northern roundabout."
Arif said: "For many of us this will not be the first time that we will have attended a vigil like this and I'm sorry to say that it probably won't be the last, but what we really need now is action from the authorities so that Moira and others who have been killed this year, that their deaths weren't in vain and the loss suffered by their friends and families is not in vain."
Jenny Jones, London Assembly Member for the Green Party, who attended the vigil, said: "They have to do something about it. One of the things they've got to do is take tipper trucks and big lorries off the road. That should have been done years ago."
She added more police officers are needed to tackle law-breaking behaviour on the capital's roads.
In February Claire Hitier-Abadie, a Westminster resident, was killed following a collision with a tipper truck while cycling on Westminster's streets next to Victoria Palace.
Westminster City Council was contacted for a response but has not yet replied. However in response to initial criticisms following Ms Gemmil's death a spokesman told The Standard their decision not to implement the suggested changes at Millbank roundabout was due to concerns that the re-design would make the junction unsafe for motorcyclists and did nothing to address the safety of pedestrians.
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