IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Old Street: ‘Why hasn’t safety work started at horrific junction?’

Urgent update is called for as lorry collision at roundabout leaves cyclist, who is believed to be in her 30s, fighting for life

27 July, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

The cement lorry and the crushed bicycle at the scene in Old Street. Photo: Sophia Wardman

CALLS have been made for temporary measures to protect cyclists at Old Street before a long-awaited overhaul of the roundabout layout after a woman was left fighting for her life in hospital this week.

The Mayor of London has also asked Transport for London for an urgent update on whether safety can be improved sooner than planned.

Firefighters rescued the trapped cyclist, who is understood to be in her 30s, from beneath a cement lorry after a collision on Wednesday.

She was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries while her bike lay damaged in the road.

The driver of the lorry stopped at the scene and is assisting police officers with their enquiries. No arrests have been made.

Dramatic plans have been in the pipeline for years to remove the notorious 1960s roundabout by closing the north-west arm, creating two-way traffic and installing segregated cycle lanes.

Emergency services at the scene of Wednesday’s collision

But campaigners this week questioned the delay on the works, which are due to begin early next year on the border of Hackney and Islington.

Donnachadh McCarthy from Stop Killing Cyclists called for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to call an emergency meeting with Mike Brown, London’s Transport Commissioner and Islington Town Hall leader Richard Watts to get the work started sooner.

He added: “It’s shocking that this horrific junction has not had the planned and consulted safety work even started.”

Public consultation on the plans ended in January 2015 and a contractor was appointed in October 2017.

A report in May 2015 stated “we will look to start our enabling works for the scheme in early 2016”.

However, the Mayor’s Office said this was then deferred under the previous administration after concerns about construction and the impact on congestion.

TfL said there were also concerns about how it would fit with the tube station which sits directly under the roundabout.

Last year, Labour Mayor Mr Khan, who has this week with TfL and the Met Police published a Vision Zero plan to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on roads, confirmed the project would start in late 2018.

An artist’s impression of how the new layout at Old Street will look

Caroline Russell, the council’s sole opposition Green councillor, wants TfL to look at how the junction can be made safe sooner, possibly with a temporary bike lane.

Cllr Russell, also a member of the London Assembly’s transport committee, said: “I think absolutely Sadiq should be speaking to Richard Watts and Mike Brown and looking at what they can do there immediately to make that roundabout fit for purpose.

“[TfL] need to get someone down there today. Obviously no one wants to pre-empt what happened in the crash but we need to know that they are putting temporary measures in place to protect people who are cycling at that junction. I really don’t like cycling around Old Street, those roads are horrible.”

Cllr Watts said: “There is massive frustration at Islington Council that it’s taken so long.”

He added: “If there are interim measures that TfL can take, we would want them to be taken.”

Nick Fairholme, TfL’s director of project and programme delivery, said: “This is a major highway engineering project above a tube station, which requires detailed planning, design and contract negotiations with businesses and retailers within Old Street station that has taken longer than we anticipated at consultation stage.

“We are now finalising the designs with our contractors and work to see the outdated 1960s gyratory converted into an attractive new pedestrian­ised public space will begin early next year.”

Anyone who witnessed the crash or has informa­tion is asked to call RTPC by calling 101, quoting CAD 5013/ 25JUL or call Crime­stoppers anony­mously on 0800 555 111.

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