“Immediate” safety changes aimed at providing more space for people on bikes have been announced for a junction in London’s Holborn district where several cyclists have lost their lives in recent years in collisions involving large vehicles.
The most recent death, of children’s doctor Marta Krawiec last month, led to protests at the junction of Southampton Row and Theobald’s Road by campaign group Stop Killing Cyclists and, last week, London Cycling Campaign.
The junction forms part of the Holborn Gyratory where safety measures announced in late 2019 by Camden Council, were put on hold after under the Transport for London (TfL) Liveable Neighbourhoods programme was frozen.
The borough has today said that will bring in a number of changes with immediate effect at the Southampton Row and Theobald’s Road junction ahead of plans for “more substantial changes” being introduced in December and January.
Camden Council adds that it and TfL “will also continue to work on longer-term plans to transform roads in the area.”
The changes being “implemented quickly to respond to immediate road safety concerns” are:
Changing the southbound Southampton Row approach to the junction from three lanes to two to reduce the risk to cyclists of vehicles turning left from the current centre ahead-only lane
The current central ahead-only traffic lane will be replaced with a temporary island to separate vehicles turning left and vehicles going straight on
Amending the nearside left-turn lane so that cyclists and buses can travel straight ahead through the junction, while general traffic will only be allowed to turn left
Adding cycle boxes (advanced stop lines) for cyclists at the traffic lights on Southampton Row to provide a safe space to wait in at the front of queuing traffic
A possible extension of the cycle, bus, and taxi lane on Theobald’s Road and reduction of the bus lane on Southampton Row by 25m to maintain space for large vehicles to use the left turn lane (subject to an assessment currently taking place).
Councillor Adam Harrison, cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, said: “These immediate measures are the beginning of changes planned for this junction.
“In the last decade, too many cyclists have died on roads in Holborn. Our thoughts remain with their families, friends and former colleagues. We are absolutely determined to do all we can to make Camden as safe as possible for cyclists.
“We will work together with the local community and ward councillors, cycling groups, TfL and the Mayor of London in the coming months to agree further significant and permanent changes to this junction. Camden Council is committed to working with TfL and the Mayor to reach ‘Vision Zero’ of no deaths or serious injuries on our roads.”
Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, commented: "My thoughts remain with the family, friends and colleagues of Dr Marta Krawiec.
“We're determined to make roads across London safer as part of our Vision Zero commitment to eliminating death and serious injury from the capital's roads and these immediate changes will reduce danger to people cycling in Holborn, and enable more people to cycle confidently.
“We'll continue to work closely with Camden Council to make these changes and to deliver longer term proposals to improve road safety in the area.”
The news comes as new figures from Transport for London (TfL) show that a big rise in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on the capital’s streets, with people on bikes now the group of road users most likely to be the victim of a fatal or serious crash.
Cyclists made up 257 of the 849 people seriously injured in road traffic collisions in London from April to June this year – around one in three of the total – and one of the 15 people killed was riding a bike, reports the Evening Standard’s Ross Lydall.
That represents a 50 per cent increase on the comparable period last year, when the city saw huge growth in cycling and plummeting motor traffic due to lockdown.
Compared to pre-pandemic figures, it also represents a 35 per cent rise on the same months of 2019.
Until April last year, pedestrians accounted for the greatest number of road users in London killed or seriously injured, followed by riders of powered two-wheelers such as motorcycles and motor scooters, with cyclists in first place.
Since then, people on bikes have accounted for more deaths and serious injuries, with those riding powered two-wheelers now second and pedestrians third in terms of numbers of casualties.
But TfL’s Lilli Matson, speaking to its safety committee, pointed out that so far as cyclists are concerned, “When you look at the overall rate, ie the risk per journey, it is lower.
“This reflects the fact we have seen a very large growth in the number of people cycling,” she added.
However, the figures will reportedly prompt a re-evaluation of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s Vision Zero plan, drawn up in 2018, and aims to eliminate road deaths in the city by 2041, with potential measures including making more roads subject to 20mph speed limits and redesigning dangerous junctions.
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.