In this blog post first published on the Stop Killing Cyclists page on Facebook, Rollapaluza founder and owner Caspar Hughes reveals how a PA system that wasn’t working when it staged a vigil and die-in at Bank Junction in June 2016 after the death of cyclist Ying Tao led to him becoming more closely involved with the campaign group – and would see him and others work alongside the City of London to make the junction at the centre of the Square Mile safer for people on bikes and on foot.
My first ever impromptu action with Stop Killing Cyclists was to see why they couldn't get their PA working for their protest to mark Ying Tao's death under the wheels of a HGV driver’s truck.
There were more than 1,000 people filling up Bank Junction and the PA wasn't working, it turns out that they needed the right lead to connect the mic to the PA. So I gave Peter Sharp Gerou, who was stood right by the PA (I didn't know him then) £10 to go and buy one from Maplin round the corner.
He bought the right lead back, we plugged the mic in and the protest began.
A couple of days later the London Cycling Campaign also held an equally large protest at the junction. The people that run the City of London, the richest square mile in the world, watched and listened. They realised that the 470,000 people moving through Bank Junction every day were their assets and consequently changed their opinion about how safety in the square mile and particularly Bank Junction should be prioritised.
The City decided to shut the junction to traffic during working hours, which was a huge success and has since become permanent. The process of restricting the traffic also showed me how toxic the black cab industry has become with regard to road harm reduction. Of the 12 per cent of consultees that opposed making the junction traffic free 79 per cent of them were black cab drivers.
I have always had a good relationship with the City of London who have used my company Rollapaluza for numerous events. They approached me to work with their Road Danger Reduction Team on the Be Brake Ready campaign. Which focused on making the City of London a safer and cleaner place for people riding their bikes and walking.
The aim of the campaign was to reduce collisions between people cycling and driving and people walking. Some of the work I did was so successful that it led to the creation of the Square Mile Cycling who are now taking the approach that I designed (with the help of Simon Munk of the London Cycling Campaign) and apply it wholesale to surface transport consultations throughout the Square Mile.
They are one of the most progressive boroughs in London and the UK, in how they deal with Road Harm Reduction. The closing of these additional streets leading into Bank Junction is a continuation of their plans to make London's streets safer.
I never knew Ying Tao, but I will never forget her either.
RIP Ying Tao
Caspar Hughes is a member of the organising group of Stop Killing Cyclists.