Cyclists form human shield in lane protest
‘Painted bike lanes offer no physical protection to people riding in them’
15 December, 2017 — By Joe Cooper
Campaigners in Penton Street, including Green Party councillor Caroline Russell, shield fellow cyclists from the traffic. Photo: Caroline Russell
A GROUP of campaigners made a human shield to protect their fellow cyclists in rush-hour traffic.
The “make the lane” protest, organised by Active Travel Now, was called in Penton Street to highlight what campaigners say is poor quality cycling provision across the borough.
Penton Street is a busy cycling route in and out of London but the bike lane is frequently blocked by parked cars and large lorries.
Around 15 campaigners cheered fellow cyclists on their way into work as they stood on the edge of the bike lane.
Similar actions have taken place in Dublin and in Philadelphia in the US.
It comes just weeks after another cycling group, Stop Killing Cyclists, held a protest outside the Town Hall over what they see as Islington Council’s slow progress towards making roads safer for cycling.
Islington Green councillor Caroline Russell was part of the human shield on Wednesday morning. She said: “Painted bike lanes offer no physical protection to people riding in them and they are often blocked by parked vehicles forcing people to pull out into the main flow of motorised traffic.”
She added: “The chain of people making a human bike lane in Penton Street was both a gesture of kindness appreciated by those passing through on their way to work and a clear demonstration of the powerlessness of paint to keep people safe.”
Cycle Islington also supported Wednesday’s action. The group’s John Ackers said Islington needed to focus on filtering traffic and making entirely segregated routes to encourage more people to cycle.
“These are both big things but if we share the end goal of cutting air pollution and getting people active then this is what we have to do.
“Islington has as lot of catching up to do when you compare it to Camden, Hackney and Waltham Forest.
“The event itself went well apart from the a couple of shouts of abuse – which we always get anyway.”
Council transport chief Claudia Webbe said: “We want to make cycling in Islington as safe as possible, and we’re designing safer routes that are convenient, easy and more direct.
“We agree Penton Street needs improvement. I have met with Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, and we’ve agreed that we will make improvements to Penton Street.
“We will make these improvements as part of the Quietway 10 route from Farringdon to Bowes Park, and the improved Penton Street will also link up with the Amwell Street to Lever Street route.”