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.