Campaigners will form a people protected bike lane on Old Street from 4pm today, protesting the fact that Islington Council has failed to improve the route. Since Islington was awarded £900,000 to deliver safety improvements in 2014, three women cycling on Old Street and Clerkenwell Road have lost a leg after being crushed by trucks. In response, the council has outlined its timetable for making safety improvements, but with construction not due to happen until 2021, campaigners have urged that there must be no further delay.
In 2015, Victoria Lebrec sustained life-threatening injuries when she was run over by a skip lorry at the junction of Clerkenwell Rd and St John Street. Her leg was amputated.
In 2016, Julie Dinsdale was run over by a Tesco truck at the junction of Old Street and Central Street and lost a leg.
In 2018, Sarah Doone was dragged under the front wheels of a cement mixer at Old Street Roundabout. She suffered multiple injuries, including such severe damage to her leg that it could not be saved.
“I was in a crash and lost my leg on Clerkenwell Road,” said Lebrec. “Since my collision in 2014, two women – Sarah and Julie – have lost their legs in collisions on this stretch of road.
“The suffering I went through was awful, and it pains me that nothing was done to make the road safer after my crash. The suffering that Sarah and Julie went through could well have been avoided if it had.
“I don't want to see any more delays to the improvement of Old Street and Clerkenwell Road. Delays translate to deaths and horrific injuries.”
Dinsdale said: "Before the collision, I was working as an NHS midwife and was competing in marathons and cyclo-cross events. What happened to me had a devastating impact on my life – being unable to return to work or continue the sports that I loved.
“It has now been three and a half years since I was run over on Old Street, and it really worries me that there have still been no safety improvements made to the road layout.
“With each delay, there's another opportunity for a cyclist to get injured or killed. Urgent action is needed on Old Street and Clerkenwell Road to protect people riding bikes."
A spokesperson for Active Travel Now said: “Since 2014, Islington Council have stated that they are working on plans to make Old Street and Clerkenwell Road safe for cycling. In 2017, they expected to consult on plans by the end of the year. We are now in 2019, and still no plans have been put forward.
“So we are here today calling on Islington to provide protected bike lanes and safe junctions on this popular route. In a city that needs many more people to use active travel to help clean our air and make our streets safe Islington must act and stop the endless delays. We call on Islington Council to provide a timetable for when Old Street will have safe junctions and protected bike lanes.”
Dr Tabitha Tanqueray, a spokesperson for Cycle Islington, added: “This route is crucial for people who travel into the city from east London by bike, yet we are seeing serious injuries and deaths at a terrifying rate.
“TfL are finally about to start work to reduce danger at Old Street roundabout, but most people will then continue their journey via Old Street and Clerkenwell road, which is under the control of Islington. Cyclists should not have to mix with trucks and buses here, especially at junctions.
“Islington Council have accepted the brief and the money from TfL to redesign the street to make it safe and attractive for cycling and walking. They began drawing up plans many years ago, yet they have still not got these into the public realm or revealed a timeline for delivery.
“We have told them again and again that we can’t afford these delays. Many of our members are standing in the road today alongside Active Travel Now to highlight Islington’s failure to deliver safe cycling provision here.”
Yesterday, Islington Council’s executive member for environment & transport, Councillor Claudia Webbe, published a statement of intent on transforming Old Street and Clerkenwell Road into a “Healthy Street,” where cycling, walking and public transport will be prioritised.
“A key objective will be to eliminate through traffic and make the route safer for pedestrians and cyclists so that it meets our commitment to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our roads to zero,” the council said.
“In the 60 months up to February 2018, there have been 193 collisions along the corridor, resulting in 210 casualties; of which 24 were classed as serious and 186 as slight,” it added.
A feasibility study was completed last month, with the design and testing phase now under way and due for completion in August, to be followed by a public consultation.
Construction will not start before January 2021 under the current timetable, however, and is not due to be completed until the end of that year.
In response, Cycle Islington said: “We are delighted that Islington Council have committed to a timetable of action to reduce traffic danger on this street.
“Since 2014, when around £1 million of TfL money was committed to this project, we have been waiting to see plans brought to consultation, but they have been stuck in the design phase for years, whilst further appalling collisions have taken place.
“Councillor Webbe has now revealed a bold vision, with high aspirations for a low-trafficked street. We hope that local councillors, residents and businesses will support her in achieving her aim of eliminating deaths and serious injuries on this road. There must be no further delays to the timetable for action.”