A lorry driver has been charged with causing the death by dangerous driving of an NHS paediatrician who was killed while cycling to work on central London’s infamous Holborn gyratory system in August 2021.
Dr Marta Krawiec, a noted food allergy consultant who had taken up cycling during the Covid-19 pandemic, was commuting to St Thomas’s Hospital on 4 August 2021 when she was struck by the driver of a HGV at the junction of Theobalds Road and Southampton Row near Holborn.
The 41-year-old was one of eight cyclists who have been killed since 2008 on the notorious and intimidating Holborn gyratory – where safety measures announced in late 2019 by Camden Council were put on hold after the Transport for London (TfL) Liveable Neighbourhoods programme was frozen – all in collisions involving large vehicles such as coaches or lorries.
Following an 18-month investigation by the Metropolitan Police, 68-year-old Kevin Allen, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, the Evening Standard reports.
Allen, who was driving the Mercedes HGV which struck Dr Krawiec, appeared at Highbury Corner magistrates court on 9 February. His case was sent for trial at the Old Bailey, where he is due to appear on bail on 9 March.
The 68-year-old did not give an indication of his plea at the hearing.
Dr Krawiec’s death in August 2021 sparked protests led by activist groups Stop Killing Cyclists and the London Cycling Campaign, who called for immediate safety changes to Holborn’s dangerous junctions, where – despite being at the centre of two busy cycle commuting routes – there was no physical segregation from motor vehicles.
Cyclists protest at the junction of Southampton Row and Theobalds Road (credit: Simon MacMichael)
“Immediate” safety measures were introduced by the council in September 2021 in response to the 41-year-old’s death, which aimed to provide more space for people on bikes. A month later, 7,500 people signed a petition urging London Mayor Sadiq Khan to “take rapid action on dangerous junctions” in the city.
Work began in January 2022 on a permanent overhaul of the road layout, including new segregated cycle lanes, bike boxes, bus, taxi and cycle lane improvements, and a redesigned traffic light system for cyclists.
However, in March, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan admitted that short-term funding provided by the government to Transport for London during its now-resolved financial crisis had made it “extremely difficult” to fully overhaul the system’s dangerous layout.
Khan’s comments came just weeks after another cyclist, former corporate lawyer Shatha Ali, was killed a few hundred yards north of the scene of Dr Krawiec’s death on the same gyratory system.
In December Camden Council gave the green light to a series of changes aimed at making the area safer for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as enhancing the public realm.
According to these plans, two-way protected cycle lanes will be installed on Procter Street as well as a contraflow protected cycle lane on Red Lion Square, and other improvements will include advance stop line areas being enlarged, and a new x-style pedestrian crossing installed outside Holborn Underground station.
Speaking after the council’s decision, Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden, said: “It has been clear for too long that the Holborn area needs safety improvements. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of people who have died on the roads here while cycling.”
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.