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Yet another cyclist killed on London’s Holborn gyratory – the seventh since 2008

Safety improvements promised for one of capital’s major commuter routes still haven’t materialised

A cyclist has lost her life this morning following a collision involving a lorry at a junction on London’s Holborn gyratory, where six other people have been killed while riding bikes since 2008, all in crashes in which large vehicles were involved – and all in an area where promised safety improvements have not yet been put in place.

The fatal crash took place shortly before 9am this morning at the junction of Theobald’s Road and Southampton Row. The Metropolitan Police said that the driver of the lorry remained at the scene but had not been arrested.

Besides forming part of the Holborn Gyratory, the junction lies on one of the city’s busiest cycle commuting corridors to and from Islington and Hackney to the West End.

But despite efforts campaigners to make the route safer, and plans from Transport for London and Camden Council to introduce protected infrastructure, it remains intimidating for anyone on a bike.

> London Boulevard: Could 1.9 mile “scar across London” become a capital cycling icon?

Including today’s victim, five cyclists have now been killed at or very close to the scene of this morning’s crash.

In September 2008, 31-year-old Wan-Chen McGuiness from Hackney died from multiple injuries at the junction following a crash involving a lorry, where Francis Golding died in hospital from injuries sustained in November 2013 after he was crushed by a left-turning coach driver.

A Metropolitan Police officer said at the inquest into Mr Golding’s death that there had been 29 collisions involving cyclists, three of them fatal, during the previous decade.

At an inquest into his death, Coroner Mary Hassell criticised Camden Council for failing to make the junction safer and issued a Prevention of Future deaths report.

In October 2018, the local authority banned motorists from making a left turn at the junction, while permitting cyclists to do so.

The route across Southampton Row from Theobalds Road towards the West End continues into Vernon Place, where in June 2009, student Maria Fernandez, aged 24, suffered fatal injuries when a left-turning bin lorry driver hit her at the junction with Bloomsbury Square.

That same junction was also the scene of the death in February 2015 of Federica Baldassa, aged 26, who was killed when she was dragged under the wheels of a lorry whose driver was turning left.

The two junctions form part of the Holborn Gyratory, where two other cyclists have lost their lives in the past 10 years, both fatal crashes happening outside Holborn Underground station.

In July 2013 Alan Neve, aged 54, was killed by a red light jumping tipper truck driver, Barry Meyer, who had been banned from driving on five occasions and twice convicted of drink-driving. Meyer was jailed for three and a half years for causing death by careless driving and driving while uninsured and unlicensed.

Then, in August 2018, Dr Peter Fisher, the Queen’s homeopathic physician for 15 years, was killed in a crash involving a lorry operated by CCF, a sub-brand of builders’ merchants Travis Perkins. The 67-year-old, a world expert in homeopathy, had been commuting to work.

Dr Fisher’s death prompted London Cycling Campaign to hold a vigil at the junction the following week, just as it had done after the death of Mr Neve five years earlier.

In January 2019, in a statement read out at the inquest into his death Dr Fisher’s sister, Susie Herne, said: “This accident led to a tragic and unnecessary waste of life.

“In order to save further precious lives we urge the Mayor of London to urgently address the issue of cycle safety by looking at people-prioritised streets.”

Two months later, in March 2019, Transport for London (TfL) and the London Borough of Camden announced a £12.6 million overhaul of roads in the area to make them safer for cyclists pedestrians.

> London’s lethal Holborn gyratory to get £12.6 million makeover for safer cycling as TfL unveils 11 new projects across the capital

While some schemes in Bloomsbury have been built, it appears that the pandemic has halted progress on implementing the changes planned for the Holborn gyratory, acknowledged by TfL as “one of London’s most intimidating junctions with high numbers of collisions, inadequate footway space and poor cycling facilities.”

It said at the time that the project would “remove the gyratory and introduce protected cycle lanes along High Holborn and Theobalds Road,” adding that “Sections of New Oxford Street and Great Russell Street will be closed to motor vehicles and a section of Bloomsbury Way will become bus and bike only.”

The project was to have been mainly financed under TfL’s Liveable Neighourhoods programme, which is currently on pause pending confirmation of future funding.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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8 comments

Avatar
Ramz | 2 years ago
0 likes

Vigil to Marta Krawiec on Friday 20th August 2021. See Stop Killing Cyclists page on Facebook and other social media channels for more info.

Avatar
Legin | 2 years ago
11 likes

Very sorry to read this.

That whole road system has been a racetrack for the last 40 years. Its design ensures that vehicles are in conflict with each other and when that happens vulnerable road users are invariably collateral damage.

You need to be a sub 10" sprinter to cross the road there on a bike you needs eyes in your ****.

There is no excuse for the delay in making safety improvments; but I'm sure they will find one.

 

Avatar
the little onion | 2 years ago
20 likes

Condolences to the friends and family of the victim

 

In any other place in the UK other than the road network, the Health and Safety Executive would rightly be all over this - seven deaths of a similar cause in the space of 13 years. Imagine that happening in a factory or workplace? It is simply unacceptable that this hasn't been addressed and prevented.

Avatar
m.a.t.t. replied to the little onion | 2 years ago
9 likes

Condolences to all connected with the victim of this shocking, avoidable and totally needless death. The disregard shown for all other than motorists on our road network is disgraceful.

Quote:

In July 2013 Alan Neve, aged 54, was killed by a red light jumping tipper truck driver, Barry Meyer, who had been banned from driving on five occasions and twice convicted of drink-driving. Meyer was jailed for three and a half years for causing death by careless driving and driving while uninsured and unlicensed.

How is it even possible that someone with such a record be allowed to drive a vehicle that poses such a danger? It's bad enough that we let these scumbags drive cars again, but giving them control of vehicles capable of such carnage is completely irresponsible. And to further compound the issue, the conviction and sentence is a joke - it's not like he was an exemplary citizen displaying a "momentary lapse of concentration"!

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to m.a.t.t. | 2 years ago
7 likes
m.a.t.t. wrote:
Quote:

 Meyer was jailed for three and a half years for causing death by careless driving and driving while uninsured and unlicensed.

How is it even possible that someone with such a record be allowed to drive a vehicle that poses such a danger? 

Seems like it wasn't allowed. I believe the vehicle owner should be prosecuted for allowing an unlicensed driver to take control. Unless Meyer was owner/operator

Avatar
m.a.t.t. replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
1 like

That is a very good point. It seems in my moment of ire I failed to spot that information. I guess in that case then, if Meyer was the owner/operator then it makes the sentencing even more laughable and, if he was not, then the company involved should have been punished as harshly as the law allows.

Avatar
the little onion replied to m.a.t.t. | 2 years ago
8 likes

The company was found guilty, and bosses banned:

https://road.cc/content/news/155627-freight-firm-bosses-banned-after-unl...

But it appears that they carried on,, possibly in a new name, but listing other family members as the director (https://companycheck.co.uk/director/919027520/MISS-HAYLEY-DRUMMOND/summary

 

The tipper industry is a wild west of dodgy practices, cowboy operators, and all sorts of nasty goings on. 

Avatar
OldRidgeback replied to the little onion | 2 years ago
1 like

There is a pool of firms involved in dodgy dealing in the tipper truck sector as well as the skip lorry sector. Let's just say that some of the companies have links to criminal activity and are rather less scrupulous in the way they're run than they should be. Firms disappear and then reappear with family members listed as directors instead. Not all the tipper truck or skip lorry firms are run this way, but there's a significant minority that are and the safety record they have is frightening.

RIP to this woman and my condolences to her family. The junction is terrible. I always avoid cycling through it. I used to go that way on my motorbike regularly and it never felt very safe even with an engine that'd get me off the line quickly.

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