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Cycling campaigners slammed for organising “deeply distasteful” protest demanding safer streets following two fatal collisions

“Trying to influence policy in the shadow of tragedy like this has resulted in poor policy and is putting people off cycling,” a former councillor said

A former councillor who worked on transport policy in London for over 20 years has branded a cycling campaign group’s plans to stage a protest calling for safer streets, in the wake of two fatal collisions in the area in the past six weeks, “deeply distasteful”. The retired politician also claimed that attempts to influence policy “in the shadow of tragedy” are “putting people off” riding their bikes.

On Wednesday evening, a protest ride will take place in the London borough of Hackney, organised by the Hackney Cycling Campaign, to “demand safer streets” and an end to serious collisions and fatalities involving cyclists, after two people were killed riding their bikes since September on roads where, the organisers claim, repeated calls for safety improvements over the years have been ignored.

We reported on Friday that residents first urged the local council seven years ago to make Whiston Road, where a 36-year-old mother-of-two was killed on 21 September, safer for vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. A 29-year-old man has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving and interfering with a vehicle and is due to appear in court later this month.

The fatal crash occurred less than a fortnight after another cyclist, a 27-year-old man, lost his life in the borough after he was struck by a driver on 10 September on Kenworthy Road in Homerton. The motorist has also been arrested, but has been bailed until December.

Whiston Road, Hackney

> Hackney cyclists to protest following two deaths in borough in recent weeks

Hackney Cycling Campaign is now urging the council to put a traffic filter or bus gate in place on Whiston Road, and for raised pedestrian crossings to be installed on Kenworthy Road to slow down drivers.

A protest ride, stopping at the site of the fatal collisions and featuring speeches at Hackney Town Hall, will take place on Wednesday evening at 5.30pm. The families of the two victims are set to join the protesters.

However, the protest has been slated by one former councillor, who criticised what he regards as the campaigners’ “distasteful” targeting of “the most successful cycling borough in the UK”.

Vincent Stops, a retired Hackney councillor and former lead member for transport who worked on streets policy for London TravelWatch, the capital’s statutory transport watchdog, for over 20 years, criticised the protest on X, formerly Twitter, when it was announced earlier this week.

“It is deeply distasteful to target the most successful cycling borough in the UK, that has done so much to promote and facilitate more and safer cycling, in the shadow of such tragedy,” the former Labour councillor tweeted.

“No death of any road user is acceptable. Over the years, a huge amount of energy and effort has gone into making cycling better in Hackney.”

Stops, who last year in a blog post labelled cycling in the capital a “ruthless and well-resourced minority interest” that has “been allowed to ruin London’s bus service” (despite claiming that he “cycles everywhere”), also argued that protests held in the wake of fatal collisions were “putting people off cycling”.

“Trying to influence policy in the shadow of tragedy like this has resulted in poor policy and is putting people off cycling, not getting more of them to try it,” he tweeted, a day after Critical Mass staged an “act of solidarity” for the cyclist killed on Whiston Road in September.

> Low traffic neighbourhoods encourage a quarter of Hackney’s residents to cycle more, poll finds

Jono Kenyon, a committee member of the Hackney Cycling Campaign, described Stops’ response to the protest as “quite extraordinary”.

“Hackney Cycling Campaign pushed for cycle tracks or a filter for Whiston Road in 2017 when Hackney spent £600k of cycling budget here. We were ignored and a young mum has been killed,” he said.

“The reason we are angry is not just because of this senseless loss, but because the same mistakes are being repeated. The council still doesn’t prioritise cycle tracks on main roads and is actively making roads less safe.”

Responding to the retired councillor’s latest criticisms, a spokesperson for the campaign group told the Hackney Citizen that it “strongly rejects Vincent Stops’ tasteless attack”.

“We are not ‘targeting’ a borough; as our name implies, we campaign on cycling issues in Hackney,” they said.

“It would be bizarre and neglectful for a cycling campaign not to address the issue of two preventable cyclists’ deaths in the borough. The families of the two victims will be attending the protest and have expressed support for our actions.”

“We acknowledge that Hackney Council has done more than most London boroughs to enable cycling over many years, including introducing traffic filters, leading to the highest cycling levels in London. Yet the recent deaths highlight that more action is required.

“We are calling on the council to implement the actions that we know will reduce road danger, so that we can move towards Vision Zero as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, Rickardo Hyatt, Hackney Council’s director for climate, homes, and the economy, has insisted that vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists remain a top priority when it comes to road policy.

“We are deeply saddened by news of the tragic deaths of cyclists on Whiston Road and Kenworthy Road, and our thoughts are with their friends and families. Casualties on our roads are neither acceptable nor inevitable,” he said.

“We are aware of the suggestions from Hackney Cycling Campaign but are unable to comment on any potential changes before the current police investigation is concluded.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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17 comments

Avatar
Bill H | 4 months ago
5 likes

I look forward to the day when Vincent stops claiming any responsibility for the one-time high cycling modal rate in Hackney. The number was high because cyclists could opt to ride on the many canals or take advantage of the proto-LTN's around de Beauvoir. Vincent never clocked that most cyclists were not on the main roads for the majority of their journeys.
Today Vincent and his coterie of yesterday's inadequates (aka Vehicular cyclists) love criticising those they describe as the Bloggers while insisting that riding with traffic is fine and pretending that the Netherlands does not exist.
 

Avatar
eburtthebike | 4 months ago
10 likes

There's certainly something extraordinarily distasteful around here, but it isn't cyclists protesting at more needless deaths, it's a staggeringly insensitive, callous and ridiculous ex-councillor.

"Vincent Stops, a retired Hackney councillor and former lead member for transport who worked on streets policy for London TravelWatch, the capital’s statutory transport watchdog, for over 20 years......."

That explains a lot.  A rabid anti-cyclist on a transport organisation.

Avatar
BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 4 months ago
8 likes

Cycling in London is - a “ruthless and well-resourced minority interest” that has “been allowed to ruin London’s bus service”.
How on earth has cycling ruined the bus service? 

 

Avatar
Steve K | 4 months ago
6 likes

Anti-cycling campaigner criticises cycle campaigners is hardly a news story.

Avatar
Boopop | 4 months ago
3 likes

Does this councillor know about Stop de Kindermoord? If not, I think it's wise they're only told when close to A&E.

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marmotte27 | 4 months ago
12 likes

Netherlands: people protest after a spate of children dying in the roads -> Netherlands implement transport policy accordingly.

UK:...

Avatar
Oldfatgit | 4 months ago
33 likes

Nobody likes to be reminded how ineffectual they've been ... especially over 20 years.

Dunno what puts me off cycling the most ... that some arsehole in a vehicle can leave my wife a widow and kids without a father coupled with a legal system that doesn't give a shit - or - that if I do get wiped out, someone *might* care enough to raise a protest to stop other families from being ripped apart.

I've seen the emotional damage done to my wife and kids as they watched me, laying in HDU, followed by months of hard and painful recovery.

No protest over the death of a vulnerable road user would ever stop me riding.
The current climate of anti-cycling rhetoric and poor drover sentencing, however, just might.

Avatar
the little onion | 4 months ago
23 likes

yeah, demanding action after a tragic and avoidable death! They should stick to sending thoughts and prayers 

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ktache replied to the little onion | 4 months ago
6 likes

Now is not the time...

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hawkinspeter replied to ktache | 4 months ago
9 likes
ktache wrote:

Now is not the time...

The best time to protest against dangerous streets is before anyone gets hurt. The next best time to protest is after someone gets hurt.

Avatar
Morgoth985 | 4 months ago
24 likes

Now I've heard it all.  People have been killed, so it's tasteless to object to people being killed???

Avatar
marmotte27 replied to Morgoth985 | 4 months ago
1 like

US-style "politics"

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Morgoth985 | 4 months ago
8 likes

Something out of (recently) Rishi's world (also Starmer's world):

Protesting about charging for the 1 in 10 of polluting cars when driving in outer London by smashing cameras?  We need to support drivers!

Protesting about "something something chips lockdowns 15 minute cities" by smashing signs and planters?  This is a legitimate concern!  Clearly some councils need reminding about not bringing forward measures that would be a draconian repression of people's freedoms.  (That's the government's job!)

Protests about councils not doing enough to protect those on the outside of cars?  Woke.

Fuel protests?  Depends.  If it's drivers driving slowly that's fair comment (although bringing speeds down in general would be trying to ruin Britain).
If it's about reducing fossil fuel use, woke.  No, wait, enemies of the people trying to bring the economy to its knees!  Bring in new laws!  (They were more effective at getting noticed - that's the difference.)

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
28 likes

People lying in the street having been killed unecessarily is what most of us would call distasteful, ex-councillor Stops. Stops is a well-known cockwomble on the London cycling scene (proud to say I'm blocked by him on Twitter) who campaigns tirelessly and tiresomely to have cycle lanes removed or not installed on the (generally entirely spurious) grounds of the terrible impact they have on the poor, elderly and disabled by delaying buses. He never seems to campaign to stop car access on the same grounds. Sample quote "The Mayor must stand up to the cycle lobby’s selfish and unachievable demands."

Avatar
M20MAMIL replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
4 likes

'Cockwomble' is a strong contender for insult of the day

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SimoninSpalding replied to M20MAMIL | 4 months ago
0 likes

I don't know. Having read some of the shite this bloke writes/ says I think it is quite unfair to liken him to homosexual men whose only "crime" is to enjoy a bit of no strings casual sex.

Avatar
brooksby replied to SimoninSpalding | 4 months ago
1 like
SimoninSpalding wrote:

I don't know. Having read some of the shite this bloke writes/ says I think it is quite unfair to liken him to homosexual men whose only "crime" is to enjoy a bit of no strings casual sex.

But presumably only a genuine "cockwomble" if said activities are carried out on Wimbledon Common?  3

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