Last and next … back to Kings Cross

by bikesalive

A RETURN TO OLD HAUNTS

After last week’s outing to Archway, we’ll be back at Kings Cross next week (6.30-7.30pm, Monday 12 March). Below you’ll find:

reports of the Archway event;

the latest Kings Cross news (including that TfL told road engineers conducting traffic flow modelling at the lethal Kings Cross junction to ignore cyclists);

the text of a Bikes Alive letter which was (kind of) published; and

a few useful or interesting links.

ARCHWAY GYRATORY PROTEST

Last Thursday, a hundreds-strong crowd took to the road outside Archway underground station, circling the massive roundabout and causing traffic to back up for a while. The protesters were mostly locals (some of whom have been campaigning over the Archway road system for years); and a large majority were pedestrians. Bikes Alivers made up about half of the cyclists’ contingent, joining local cycle activists and others.

The event made the front page in the next day’s Islington Tribune – see the on-line version at www.islingtontribune.com/news/2012/mar/archway-roundabout-brought-standstill.

There are also photos and a video, respectively, at www.demotix.com/news/1084969/archway-gyratory-protest and youtu.be/xYsQQzXiveU,

It was a very cheery affair, with plenty of not-usually-the-demonstration-type locals; and some of the organisers went out of their way to thank Bikes Alive for being crucial in swelling the cycle contingent. One of them also apologised for the fact that the event had been set up with the police, after lengthy discussions, in a way which pretty much precluded repeated circling of the gyratory; but he expressed the hope that there might be another Archway event at some stage, more cyclist-led, which would make its presence felt at greater length…

Some participants expressed dissatisfaction at the less-direct-action-oriented style of the event; however, Bikes Alive was there very much in support of an existing local initiative, and so we were constrained by the arrangements they’d made. And next Monday we’ll be back at Kings Cross, in our ususal mode…

NEWS FROM KINGS CROSS

As we rev up (or whatever the cycling equivalent is) to return to Kings Cross next week for a one-hour enforced go-slow at the death junction outside the station, there are important new revelations about Transport for London’s (TfL’s) culpability.

The Times, which is still continuing its high-profile (even it analytically limited) cycle safety campaigning, has picked up on the police investigation into allegations of corporate manslaughter by TfL, as long pushed by the local Kings Cross Environment website (kingscrossenvironment.com). This relates to the fact that TfL failed for years to change the Kings Cross road layout, despite knowing that it failed to meet official safety standards. The only downside of this Times story (www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3336152.ece) is its failure to note that the changes that TfL does now plan are ones which introduce new dangers for cyclists!

Another shocking story just dug out by the Kings Cross folks is that TfL advised road engineers conducting traffic flow modelling and measurements in the Kings Cross area from 2005 to 2009 to ignore cyclists at the Kings Cross killer junction, despite cyclists making up 20% of casualties. (See kingscrossenvironment.com/2012/03/05/buchananreport.)

So, do you need any more reasons to to come and reclaim the roads at Kings Cross next Monday evening? See you there!

THE GUARDIAN GETS IN ON THE ACT

After all the fuss about cycle safety in The Times and the Independent recently, the Guardian ran a pro-cycling editorial a week or so back. However, given that it made positive noises about the cycling image of certain not-so-radical politicians, a letter was sent in putting a Bikes Alive-type spin on things. Come Saturday, several letters in response to the editorial were printed, but not including the Bikes Alive one – which is fair enough, given that their letters page is greatly over-subscribed, and only a small proportion of letters submitted make it into print. However, it transpires that nowadays – if there’s a topic which attracts more letters thought worthy of printing than there’s room for – the Guardian sometimes prints an expanded selection on its website. (This is not to be confused with other discussion threads on their website, which are full of anonymous – and frequently incoherent and hysterical – disputes about topics in the paper … discussions which many Guardian readers are amazed to find printed by an allegedly serious publisher.)

This is the text that was printed as one of the two extra letters in the on-line version of the letters page; it’s only slightly edited from the original submitted.

Your editorial refers positively to both David Cameron’s and Boris Johnson’s use of bikes, and calls for changes in attitude and the law, and for more investment in cycling facilities.

But in congested urban areas like London, it is impossible to increase safe cycle usage (or indeed to have air quality which doesn’t breach international standards, or to have a safe and unthreatening street environment for slow-moving pedestrians) without the elimination of most cars. Yet the politicians you praise are part of a selfish and privileged stratum of society which insists on the right to use private cars whenever desired.

Furthermore, Transport for London – run by Boris – currently has a deliberate policy of remodelling major road junctions in order to increase the throughput of motor vehicles while simultaneously increasing the dangers for cyclists.

It’s small wonder that many cyclists find such politicians, even when on their bikes, to be part of the problem not the solution – hence the need for non-violent direct action by cyclists to defend ourselves.

Albert Beale
Bikes Alive

LINKS TO SOME RELEVANT WEBSITES

Firstly, references to Bikes Alive (not all of them completely uncritical):

www.urban75.org/blog/ghost-bikes-bikes-alive-critical-mass-and-the-fight-for-safe-cycling-in-london
www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest/531926/jenny-jones-the-big-interview.html

And some items from the Independent a while back which were omitted from an earlier round-up:

www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/james-moore-an-open-letter-to-the-minister-for-road-safety-6348785.html
www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-ghost-bike-revolt-families-demand-action-on-cyclist-deaths-6348784.html

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