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North London school head blocks new cycleway with cones, claiming cyclists endanger pupils

London Cycling Campaign points out that teacher's actions endanger cyclists – including parents and children who ride to the school...

The head teacher of a North London primary school is using traffic cones to block a cycleway that runs past it, claiming that cyclists are putting children’s lives in danger. However, London Cycling Campaign has pointed out that by blocking the route, the head is endangering cyclists – including parents and children who choose to ride to and from the school.

Completed in May this year, the northern section of Cycleway 38 runs from Finsbury Park to Highbury Fields.

A four-week consultation by Islington Council in autumn 2019 found that 83 per cent of local residents were in favour of the scheme.

A fully segregated section of the route passes Drayton Park Primary School, a couple of hundred metres from Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium.

However, the Islington Gazette reports that the school’s headmaster, Damien Parrott, has started blocking the route during school run times.

In a letter sent to parents of pupils at the school, he said: “A number of near misses between cyclists and children, have caused aggressive confrontations in front of our children.”

He said that he “came to the conclusion that the situation is a very dangerous one” after going to look at the cycle lane himself.

“I watched someone cycle down the lane sitting up, not holding onto their handlebars and thus with no quick access to their brakes,” he continued.

“As the cycle lane is curved before our gate, with cars parked on the road side, visibility for both pedestrians and cyclists is limited.

“The consequences of a single mistake, in which a cyclist hit one of our children, could be disastrous. Cycling accidents lead to serious injury and death.”

He added: “I want to stop putting the cones out as soon as possible, because a better solution has been put in place by the appropriate authorities.”

The head teacher will be meeting with council officials shortly to highlight his concerns and try and resolve the situation.

A spokesperson for Islington Council told the newspaper: “We’re determined to create a fairer, greener, healthier Islington for everyone, with more pleasant, safer spaces for people to walk and cycle.

“The safety of children is absolutely vital to this, and we’re meeting with the executive head of Drayton Park School this week to discuss the concerns that have been raised.

“The cycleway offers a route for people, including families with children, to travel more safely in our borough, and will help to improve air quality and reduce emissions.”

LCC Senior Infrastructure Campaigner Simon Munk welcomed the fact that the head teacher and council will be meeting to discuss the issue – but pointed out that blocking the lane would endanger cyclists, including parents and children travelling to and from the school.

He said: “It is obviously right that Islington Council and the school work to mitigate any specific issues around the design of the track and car parking next to it. But it is dangerous for this cycle track to be blockaded with cones – this poses serious risks for children and parents cycling to and from the school, as well as everyone else. 

“More, we need schools to work with councils to reduce the climate emissions and road danger of the school run – that primarily comes from cars and driving, not people cycling,” he added.

When the route, which was designed by the council and funded by Transport for London, was opened in May, Councillor Rowena Champion, Islington’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “We are determined to create a fairer, greener and healthier future for Islington, where everyone is able to travel easily around the borough and incorporate exercise into their daily routine.

“This new route will help make it safer to walk and cycle as we move out of lockdown, enabling local people to enjoy our borough in a way that cuts down on air pollution and congestion by reducing unnecessary car journeys.       

“Walking, cycling and wheeling are convenient, inexpensive and fun ways to travel around the borough, and we look forward to seeing local people enjoy the benefits of the new Cycleway.”    

Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, added: “Enabling people to walk and cycle around London is absolutely vital to ensuring a green recovery from the pandemic, and I’m thrilled to see this innovative new cycle route open in Islington.

"New infrastructure is being delivered at record pace across the capital and new routes such as Cycleway 38 mean more people are able to leave their cars at home and get on their bikes instead.

"We’ll continue to work closely with Islington Council to make the borough an even better place for walking and cycling for all.”   

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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