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Cyclist dies at Camden Road blackspot where safety work had been delayed

Ardian Zagani was killed in a collision with a lorry while cycling to work on a road where an improvement scheme was ‘in the works’

01 September, 2017 — By Tom Foot, William McLennan

The road was closed while police investigated the collision

TRANSPORT chiefs had drawn up plans for major safety changes to a notorious stretch of road where a cyclist was killed this week – but the project got kicked into the long grass.

Transport for London met cycling lobby groups three years ago to discuss designs it had produced for Camden Road, near the junction with Brecknock Road.

Its proposals included introducing a segregated cycle lane, but this week TfL said a scheme to improve safety was still “in the works”.

Ardian Zagani, in his 30s, was killed in a collision with a lorry while cycling to work along the same stretch of road towards Holloway on Tuesday morning.

Mr Zagani, a caretaker at a college in Tottenham, was described by colleagues as “bright, cheery and hardworking”.

A “die-in” protest at the spot has been organised for next week, with hundreds of cyclists promising to block the road and call for urgent changes.

John Chamberlain, coordinator at London Cycling Campaign, said: “There was one scheme in 2014 that was supposed to be taken further – but didn’t go anywhere. There was another in 2004.”

He added: “Of course, we cannot say whether these schemes would have protected against this tragic incident. My personal opinion is that what is happening is that there are people with good aspirations within TfL, but there are too many different interests.

“For example, there are big concerns about bus delays. It’s all to do with priorities. There are other roads in London like this one where changes have been made.

“Cycling is on the up and up. You can’t keep kicking it into the long grass. You have to make compromises.”

Andy Forbes, principal at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, said of Mr Zagani: “We all knew him as ‘Sam’. He was a very popular colleague, who was bright, cheery and hardworking.

“Many of us who knew Sam felt numbed, as we found out that on a day seemingly like any other, on his journey into work that morning to open up the college, he had been so tragically killed.

He will be sorely missed and our hearts go out to his family and friends.”

Minor changes, including trixie-mirrors and stop boxes, were introduced at the junction of Camden Road with Pancras Way following the death of Paula Jurek in 2011. The 20-year-old London Metropolitan University student died after being hit by a left-turning lorry.

A witness to Tuesday’s tragedy said that the accident happened at a point where the road “pinches” from two lanes into one. Frank Mingo, a quantity surveyor who lives nearby, said: “Two guys got out of the car and were crying. It was awful. There was a busload of people and a woman cycling past who saw it happen.

He added: “It’s the narrowing of the two lanes to one that causes all the problems.”

Organisers of Monday’s “die-in” – scheduled for 6pm – expect the demo to draw large numbers.

TfL said it could not comment on its plans for Camden Road as designs were not yet complete.

Managing director of surface transport Leon Daniels said: “Our deepest sympathies go out to the friends and family of the man killed this morning while cycling along Camden Road. Every death on London’s road is one too many and we are committed to making all roads safer.”

Police said the woman driver of the Ford Transit stopped at the scene. She was initially arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving but was “de-arrested at the scene and was interviewed under caution at a north London police station”.

Tribune Comment

THE sight of a crumpled bike frame and forensic tent pitched on a road gets no less chilling.

There is a familiar sequence of outrage, blame – and, of late, subdued acceptance.

It is nothing short of a disgrace that this carnage has been allowed to continue unabated.

The thought of the young cyclist’s packed lunch, scattered across the road in the debris of his bike, should serve as a reminder of how cycling has become the preferred mode of transport to work, and to college, for thousands every day.

It is a basic, almost banal mechanism for the majority. It is not a hobby or whim of the sporty middle classes. Cyclists can no longer be perceived of as a group of boy racers or wobbly women, dangers to themselves.

When, in 2011, London Metropolitan student Paula Jurek (above) died under the wheels of a lorry in Camden Road the shock was palpable.

Her death was among the first in a dark chapter that year – including that of another student, Deep Lee, in King’s Cross – and brought heavy pressure on the then mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Mary Bowers, the Times journalist, was also that year left with severe brain damage after being crushed on her bike by a lorry – leading to a major campaign being launched in her newspaper.

The deaths have continued. And all the while our unelected body, Transport for London, has been dragging its heels when it should have been introducing basic changes.

It is too early to tell whether road layout changes would have saved a life this week. But segregated lanes, junction improvements and lamppost mirrors would certainly not have made matters worse.

The cycling lobby has had much success over the years through its peaceful, almost passive approach to negotiating with City Hall and central government. But with the death of another young cyclist, it seems a more radical stance is needed to shake this city into action. We hope readers – cyclists or not – will join the protest on Monday at 6pm.

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