The Independent London Newspaper
24th May 2017

REVEALED: Project that might have saved cyclist’s life - King's Cross Junction safety work was delayed

    Published: 06 October 2011
    by TOM FOOT

    THE busy junction where a young woman cyclist was killed on Monday was supposed to have been made safe a month ago – but the work has yet to start.
     
    Transport for London (TfL) announced earlier this year that the King’s Cross Junction Improvement programme would begin in September.
     
    The planned transformation of the dangerous crossing – at Euston Road, York Way and Gray’s Inn Road – would have introduced special safety measures for cyclists. 
     
    But a TfL spokesman confirmed last night (Wednesday) that the work had yet to begin, adding that it would be completed in time for the Olympic Games.
     
    Min Joo Lee, a 24-year-old fashion student at Central St Martin’s, was crushed to death in a collision with a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) at the spot where Camden campaigners have previously called on TfL to introduce green cycle lanes.
     
    Ms Joo Lee is the second student from the college to die on a bike in Camden in as many years and the eleventh woman to die in Camden and Islington in the past five years.
    The New Journal has established that TfL, which answers to Mayor of London Boris Johnson, has also failed to implement its own recommendations made in a report commissioned as long ago as 2008 to improve the King’s Cross junction. 
     
    No arrests have been made following Monday’s collision. The driver of the HGV was treated for shock after being taken to University College Hospital. 
     
    Ms Joo Lee’s crumpled bike lay beside a blue police tent and large numbers of passers-by looked on as a still silence descended on the normally frenetic junction.
     
    Her body was removed around three hours later, in a heart-breaking scene which stoked anger on cycling internet forums. Campaigners who have announced a “Flashride” protest starting in Blackfriars later this month.
     
    Witnesses told the CNJ Ms Joo Lee appeared to go under the lorry as two lanes of traffic going north up Gray’s Inn Road bunched into one lane at the point it meets York Way. Police are invest- igating and the cause of death with be established at a coroner’s inquest.
     
    Cyclist Tony Raven, who was at the scene, said: “It only takes four deaths to shut down the whole rail network until the safety issues have been addressed, but after tens of cyclists nothing changes and the carnage goes on.”
     
    TfL’s King’s Cross Junction Improvement scheme – part of a wider programme to ensure safe passage of officials and media to the Olympic Games – included the installation of cycling safety messages such as “new advanced stop lines for cyclists and new tactile pacing as well as change of the location of the no stopping box”.
     
    Camden Cycling Campaign had raised strong concerns about the junction and, in official submissions, warned the changes were “not going far enough”.
     
    The group’s secretary Jean Dollimore told TfL in June: “Cyclists trying to cross to York Way need to get ahead.

    There should be a bike lane starting south of this junction in Gray’s Inn Road and carrying across into York Way.

    Traffic would be narrowed down to one lane earlier and the extra road space would be used to make cyclists safer. She told the New Journal: “I suppose TfL don’t take seriously the fact that thousands are riding bikes on their roads.”
     

    Following a consultation in 2010, Camden Council widened pavements in York Way to help “reduce traffic speed and road user conflicts”.
    But the findings of road experts in the 2008 report, commissioned by TfL, were not followed through. 
     
    It advised widening the carriageway, the footpath, installing traffic-calming measures, and attempting to “promote the route inside the station as an alternative”.

    It said “the key crossing at the southern end of York Way should be redesigned” and the “roads were insufficient and users face risk of collisions with vehicles”.
     

    Caroline Russell, a Green Party member in Islington, said “TfL completely changed their tune” after Boris Johnson was elected Mayor in 2008. 
     
    Last July, TfL’s safety unit produced a report into why so many young women cyclists were dying on the roads.

    It suggested some cyclists who break the law by jumping red lights may actually be safer in certain situations and that 86 per cent of the women cyclists killed in London between 1999 and 2004 were hit by a lorry.

    By contrast, lorries were involved in just 47 per cent of deaths of male cyclists.
     

    Patrick Field, who runs the London School of Cycling in Hackney, said: “The thing with infrastructure is that if you make a junction like the one at King’s Cross, and it looks like a motorway junction, people will behave like a motorway junction.

    If it looks like Trafalgar Square, people will behave accordingly.”
     

    A TfL spokesman said: “In the past three years there have been two serious collisions at this junction, neither of which involved cyclists.
     
    “We have recently consulted on pedestrian improvements at three key junctions around King’s Cross.

    These are predominantly to increase pedestrian capacity in time for the London 2012 Games but new road layout designs will reflect the needs of all road users. Work will begin later this year and will be completed in spring next year.”
     

    Any witnesses to Monday’s incident are asked to contact police on 020 8998 5319. 

     

     

    Comments

    Cyclist safety

    The whole area around kings cross/St pancreas way is a death trap for cyclists. There is no cycle lane whatsoever going down St pancras way to platforms 8/9 at kings cross where the new underground frontage is. The taxis just simply pull out along with other cars that stop to drop off at the euro star terminal. Going the other way to the main road from platform 9 is just as bad. Taxis parked up, drivers out of the vehicles and standing in the road, traffic coming at you from behind, no where for a cyclist to go, u turns by taxis from the other side of the road. I have waited at the traffic lights at the Euston road junction to go straight across many times and each time have thought what an ideal target I would be crossing the box junction if anyone jumped the lights on the Euston Rd. Now I walk through kings cross, out the doors, walk over the pedestrian crossings with my bike, get to the other side and then start to ride to Russell square. I shouldn't have to do this but instinct for survival says the few minutes walk to cross over this junction is better than a wooden overcoat.

    TfL consultation at KX

    Hi CNJ,

    Do you know who TfL consulted with and when on the three KX junctions mentioned in the article?

    Best wishes,
    Sophie Talbot
    King's Cross Community Projects
    www.kccp.org.uk

    Cycle safety in London

    I've not been reading CNJ as regularly at present since I'm no longer leaving Euston by train as much, and thus my victualling trip to Arkay Stores on Eversholt Street is less frequent (there is everything you might need to buy for your trip (and a few more less conventional options) within minutes of the station and a real plus for promoting local shops, and the Brill Place route to St Pancras for walking & cycling away from the noise and pollution on Euston Road)

    Yesterday I almost got run down by an HGV in Coleshill - en route to the NEC. As I rode along the main route it was clear that the driver of the articulated truck at the turning on my right was not looking to his left and about to start off. I shouted, and those who know me can testify that when I shout I put many RSM's to shame, but the driver continued to pull out. I was fortunately able to divert into a junction on the left side and aim to ride up onto the footway, to avoid being hit, and continuing with staccato shouts of Oi and possibly less polite words. Eventually he either heard or saw me in his mirrors and stopped, and I gave vent to my opinion on his driving.

    Now normally I see that most professional drivers drive with their window slightly open, for a very good reason, it can provide that extra safety system of hearing, which alerts you to the tyre noise of a car in your blind spot as you filter in to the motorway, or a shout from a non motorised user when something dangerous might happen. I look in horror at so many cyclists wearing earpieces in both ears - in one ear is bad enough as the ear's like the eyes use the stereo effect to assess where noise is coming from. In too many inquests we learn that the cyclist or pedestrian was wearing earphones and oblivious to the hazards around them, or the car driver with sound system blasting away and windows closed fails to notice the blue lights and sirens trying to get them to pull over.

    As a second point I will not wear any shaded glasses, and otherwise impair the operation of the most valuable safety device I have - my eyes. I saw the hazard of a truck likely to pull out on me and then I saw that the driver was not looking in my direction as he started to move. I fear that too many road users fail to make the only contact they have with other road users eye contact. Eyes not only give you timeous information of a developing hazard, but they also provide a brilliant channel of communication. This is refined to a great art by the London pedestrian, who with a withering stare can stop motorised traffic when they have decided that they will cross the road, and the trick her is to look hard into the driver's eyes, as there is this well developed feedback response that their eyes send back to you. It works both through the windscreen AND through the external mirrors. You see those eyes and that they are looking at you and this makes a powerful means to manage the risk when moving around large and potentially dangerous vehicles. It helps also to 'be a real human' and thus as Steven Norris famously quipped "I don't want to dress up like a spaceman to ride my bike"

    Finally I'd note the results of a 5000 cyclist study undertaken in Oxfordshire which lead to a safety campaign focussing on the ability of cyclists to perform the move known to motorcyclists as 'the lifesaver' That is the ability to turn your head and look directly back at the road user behind, and confirm that they in turn are looking at you (if not than you do something about being seen or getting out the way very fast). For this ears in working order play a vital role as noted, but the OxCam study showed an interesting difference between the sexes, almost the 'Lot's Wife' effect. Female cyclists reported that they found the lifesaver look difficult to perform, and it was reflected in a higher incidence of events, in which the lack of rearward observation was a causal factor. Male cyclists on the other hand tended to ride into things in front of them. No one has really got to grips with this detail , but one theory I'd put forward is that many women are riding bikes built to suit the male physique - longer arms relative to torso etc, and are thus less able to comfortably turn their head without also turning the handlebar. A case perhaps of getting the right set up for the bikes you ride, rather than the cheapest model that just about fits.

    It is very worrying to see the 'safety' reactions "Wear a helmet"- Damn all used under the wheels of a truck. "Wear something bright" - likewise useless if the other road user isn't looking or listening. So little of "Do something positive" like making eye contact and placing yourself in the right position on the carriageway.

    Min Joo Lee

    Many thanks to Tom Foot for his very excellent article. This area is incredibly dangerous for cyclists. Every time I visit the British Library (by public transport) I see the most terrifying behaviour by HGVs and always report the many I see on mobiles to Metpolice Roadsafe.

    Thank you for highlighting the anomaly betweeen male and female casualties of HGVs. There is a very real and growing threat to female cyclists for a reason we are yet to discover. For this reason, after 200,000 miles, I have given up cycling in London.

    Christine Lock

    Min Joo Lee

    Many thanks to Tom Foot for his very excellent article. This area is incredibly dangerous for cyclists. Every time I visit the British Library (by public transport) I see the most terrifying behaviour by HGVs and always report the many I see on mobiles to Metpolice Roadsafe.

    Thank you for highlighting the anomaly betweeen male and female casualties of HGVs. There is a very real and growing threat to female cyclists for a reason we are yet to discover. For this reason, after 200,000 miles, I have given up cycling in London.

    Christine Lock

    Min Joo Lee

    Many thanks to Tom Foot for his very excellent article. This area is incredibly dangerous for cyclists. Every time I visit the British Library (by public transport) I see the most terrifying behaviour by HGVs and always report the many I see on mobiles to Metpolice Roadsafe.

    Thank you for highlighting the anomaly betweeen male and female casualties of HGVs. There is a very real and growing threat to female cyclists for a reason we are yet to discover. For this reason, after 200,000 miles, I have given up cycling in London.

    Christine Lock

    Correction

    Camden have not completed the widening of pavements in York Way. The project has come to a halt and there is no agreement between Camden and TFL on how the project is to be finished. This includes a much needed crossing to help slow down speeding traffic.

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