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'You must ensure that she is the last to die here' Colleagues of doctor killed while cycling to work demand 'immediate action' from London Mayor

“The time now is for action rather than words"...

The colleagues of a paediatrician killed by the driver of an HGV while cycling to work have demanded London Mayor Sadiq Khan introduces immediate road safety improvements.

Letters were sent to the Mayor from the chairman and chief executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust, and from paediatricians at Evelina London children’s hospital, where Dr Marta Krawiec worked as a food allergy expert.

The consultant died at the junction of Southampton Row and Theobalds Road on August 4 after being run over by a left-turning lorry.

> Hundreds to protest outside Camden Council’s offices to call for safer streets following latest cyclist death in Holborn

She had been cycling to work at St Thomas’s hospital at the time and had started commuting by bike at the start of the pandemic to ensure she could continue to see her patients and to keep space on the Tube and buses free for other NHS workers.

The letters, seen by the Evening Standard, note that Dr Krawiec, 41, was the eighth cyclist to be killed near Holborn station since 2008 – and the fourth at the same junction.

Her colleagues say the lack of action, despite the award of almost £9.5m for safety improvements two years ago, is 'unacceptable'.

They contrast the situation with the erection of safety barriers on Westminster bridge and London bridge “overnight” after terrorist attacks.

Had similar measures been introduced at Holborn, Dr Krawiec “may still be alive”, they said.

Noting the Mayor’s frequent tweets boasting about more cycle lanes elsewhere in London, they said: “The time now is for action rather than words. You must ensure that she is the last to die here.”

The letter said: “Her preventable death leaves a huge hole in the allergy team, the Evelina children’s hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and the wider allergy community both in the UK and Europe. Her death will have an incalculable impact on the patients that she looked after.”

A separate letter from trust chairman Sir Hugh Taylor and chief executive Ian Abbs said: “We are aware that there have been proposals in place for a number of years to make improvements to this area, none of which have yet transpired. We would ask that these plans are revisited and acted on as a matter of urgency.

“To avoid any further unnecessary deaths, we would also ask that immediate interim steps are taken to protect cyclists by putting in place temporary safety measures to separate cyclists from the traffic."

In response to the letters, Mr Khan said: "Through the Liveable Neighbourhoods programme TFL has been working alongside Camden Council, the highway authority in this area, to transform the local road network in Holborn. This includes the removal of the one-way system.."

He explained that sadly, due to the pandemic, the Liveable Neighbourhood scheme was paused in 2020 as funds were diverted to help introduce infrastructure to allow for social distancing. 

He continued: "Following Dr Krawiec's death TFL immediately met Camden Council officers to agree on what can be done quickly in the interim to improve safety at the junction ahead of delivering the full scheme."

The London Cycling Campaign announced on Friday that it will ride on the evening of Wednesday 8 September from Old Street (assembling 530pm, departing 6pm, Silk Street, Barbican entrance) to Holborn to highlight ongoing delays and failures to deal with London’s most dangerous junctions, following Dr Marta Krawiec's death.

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19 comments

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HarrogateSpa replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
7 likes

Using a doctor's death as an opportunity to score political points against Khan is pathetic and wrong.

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lesterama replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
2 likes

True, but ignore the troll

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open_roads replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
3 likes

It's not scoring political points to highlight when the money has been set aside years of inaction is simply not acceptable. 

On the cycling front, Khan has been completely useless.

Perhaps if he spent less time being ferried round in a fleet of range rovers and actually used a bike a bit more he might have the same zeal his predecessor had.

It's also worth pointing out that Khan claims he has to be ferried everywhere by his close protection team (including for dog walks) in the fleet of 4-5 of the most polluting cars money can buy yet the current PM can regularly be seen running in Green Park with very little visible security around him.

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Rendel Harris replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
6 likes

Nigel Garrage wrote:

If action would have been taken in 2018, like was promised, Marta would likely still be alive today. I deeply regret that you think that is "point scoring".

In 2013 Camden Council promised to rip out the Holborn Gyratory but the plan was kyboshed by Boris Johnson's administration as having too much impact on cars and buses. If action has been taken then, four other people and Ms.Krawiec would likely still be alive today. By choosing to focus on Khan's inaction and ignore that of the local council and Boris Johnson, what can one think but that you are point scoring?

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Rich_cb replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
4 likes

In this situation it is entirely right and proper to ask serious questions of Khan.

He appears to have done little or nothing in response to previous deaths at this junction and now we have another tragedy on our hands.

Road safety should not be a party political issue.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
4 likes

"It is right to blame Khan"
You sure? Especially as the previous mayor had five deaths in his two terms in the same area and made the similar promises of fixing it before quietly canning the changes as well.

Road safety should not be a party political issue
Although I do agree here. Too many people jump on things like LTN's, cycle lanes, traffic calming measures and other things done to improve safety of the more vulnerable road users and see it as "I must fight this as I'm in opposition to the people bringing it in but will pretend I'm for safey measures, just different ones".  
 

 

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brooksby replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
4 likes

AlsoSomniloquism wrote:

"It is right to blame Khan"
You sure? Especially as the previous mayor had five deaths in his two terms in the same area and made the similar promises of fixing it before quietly canning the changes as well.

Well, that person is now directly/indirectly responsible for policies leading to 130,000 deaths, just in less than one term.  Who says you can't improve on yourself?

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Rich_cb replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
1 like

If you're going to use quotation marks it's normally best practice to put an actual quote between them.

We can, of course, blame a former administration but currently Khan is in charge and he has previously pledged to act but failed to do so.

Therefore:
"It is entirely right and proper to ask serious questions of Khan".

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Rendel Harris replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
1 like

.

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TheBillder replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
1 like
Rich_cb wrote:

Road safety should not be a party political issue.

Genuine question: why not?

We could have safer roads. This would cost money upfront, though I'd argue it would save it over time. It would also annoy some road users if they felt that their access or usage was affected.

Isn't choosing what to spend public money on, and balancing the interests of different groups, the bread and butter of politics? And aren't there party differences on this?

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Rich_cb replied to TheBillder | 2 years ago
2 likes

I get your point but the problem with party political issues is people tend to get quite binary over them.

If the Conservatives support X it is a 'bad thing'. If Labour support Y it is a 'good thing'. And vice versa.

You only have to look at the comments on this piece to see the effect.

I'd like to see a body similar to the Air Accident Investigation Branch installed for road accidents/collisions.

It would be independent of any political party and charged with reducing road casualties. It would have legal powers to compel politicians to act.

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TheBillder replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
1 like

I'd agree with that. Quite why it takes so long for other fields to emulate the safety culture in aviation, I dunno. It's not perfect, but a lot, lot better than most other areas.

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hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
7 likes

I think it'd be appropriate to put an immediate ban on vehicle types immediately after a deadly collision until the cause is determined and action taken if relevant. If one death occurs at the junction then a temporary closure for a day or two would be appropriate, but if there's repeat deaths, then maybe a permenant ban on motor vehicles through that junction should be enacted until it could be made safe for mixed traffic to use.

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giff77 replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
9 likes

Watched a documentary some time ago where the authorities in Amsterdam were followed and they were covering how they responded to fatalities at junctions and roundabouts involving cyclists. Every example they used involved a total change in junction layout, light phasing. Everything to protect the cyclist. One example was to change the phasing of a right turn after observing behaviour and closing the junction to ensure that turning vehicles couldn't turn until the cycle lane was clear. Wish I could find it and post a link. 

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Philh68 replied to giff77 | 2 years ago
2 likes

They have a proactive attitude in Amsterdam, with a safe systems focus on designing out potential conflict even before injury or deaths can occur, not a reactive one like the UK, USA, Aus where it takes a death to see any interest in improvements.

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TheBillder replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
0 likes

Whilst I totally understand the sentiment, I don't think a total ban would work. If a pedestrian is killed by a motorcyclist, would you ban motorcycles but still allow cars?

A proper interim investigation might be a better idea, putting in a safety modification without waiting to go through the usual bureaucracy, as long as safety really did improve and there were no extra dangers added. This action should treat any impact in traffic flow as unimportant in the short term. Longer term, the impacts on the wider system could be explored (e.g. have we made things worse on neighbouring roads).

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hawkinspeter replied to TheBillder | 2 years ago
5 likes

If a pedestrian is hit by a motorcyclist (or indeed a driver), then it's a somewhat different circumstance as those modes of transport are already separated so it should be a much simpler job to identify any inherent dangers in the infrastructure (e.g. a large overhanging tree obscuring the pedestrians view of the road).

The problem with 'proper interim investigations' is that they rarely seem to happen or at least not within a sensible timescale. By implementing a traffic ban, it'd provide impetus for the investigation to happen quickly and fixes would need to be in place before allowing motor traffic to mix with other modes until it could be demonstrated to be safe.

The thing is that we're not going to achieve "Vision Zero" without taking road safety seriously and inconveniencing some to save others' lives.

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open_roads replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
0 likes

The problem with this is that it would just displace those vehicle movements (in this case lorries) to roads that are even less well suited to them - ergo accident rates would increase.

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hawkinspeter replied to open_roads | 2 years ago
1 like

open_roads wrote:

The problem with this is that it would just displace those vehicle movements (in this case lorries) to roads that are even less well suited to them - ergo accident rates would increase.

Would accident rates increase? I'd guess that average traffic speeds would decrease and there should be less collisions. It's certainly a better alternative than continuing to allow mixed traffic at junctions/roads where it is known that more people will die.

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