Andrea Casalotti, Natalie Bennett and Sian Berry with Green Party members and supporters of the cycle path
Published: 1 July, 2014
By PETER GRUNER
COMMUTER cyclists say they have been left taking their lives into their own hands after a segregated cycle path in King’s Cross was left unfinished.
The cyclists – including Camden’s newly elected Green councillor Sian Berry – converged on the 70ft long by 10ft wide stretch of raised concrete at Clerkenwell Road, close to the junction with Farringdon Road, on Monday evening to make their point.
It led to an apology from Camden Council chiefs over the delays in getting the project finished.
Described as a symbol of inaction, despite the number of deaths and injuries to cyclists, the cycle path was installed by the Town Hall in 2004 at an estimated cost of £30,000 and then, campaigners say, quietly abandoned before it was finished.
Slopes to the path have been bricked up at either end, making it virtually unusable, and yet it still contains two working cycle traffic lights.
Had the segregated path been completed it would have provided a safer journey for the thousands of cyclists who use the route between Shoreditch and Fitzrovia every day.
The path was meant to continue into the Islington section of Clerkenwell Road and up towards Old Street. But the neighbouring borough also failed to take up the initiative.
Cycle campaigner Andrea Casalotti decided to draw attention to the unfinished path as part of his plan for a “Clerkenwell boulevard” for cyclists. Mr Casalotti’s “Space for Cycling” scheme calls for a boulevard route for bikes, buses and local traffic only.
“Conditions along Clerkenwell Road for cyclists are extremely dangerous,” he said.
“That’s why it is appalling to think that Camden started to provide a segregated cycle track and then abandoned it, presumably because Islington weren’t interested in continuing it.
“Since it was installed the number of cyclists that use this route has probably trebled. Up to 60 per cent of traffic on this route is now cyclists and we need to think as they do in cities in Scandinavia.”
Camden’s environment chief Councillor Phil Jones confirmed that the hope had been that Islington would have continued the cycle path along their stretch.
“We are now working with Islington and Transport for London to bring about much-needed improvements to this route,” he said.
“The old cycle path could still be integrated into a new system or could be scrapped and replaced by something new. I’m only sorry that all this is taking such a long time.”
Campaigners believe a safe boulevard would almost certainly have saved the life of architectural heritage consultant Francis Golding, who was killed in a collision with a coach at the Theobalds Road end of the route last November.
An inquest held into the death of cyclist Mr Golding, from Islington, found that protected cycle lanes and cycling-specific traffic lights would have given him potentially life-saving protection from the coach that turned across his path and killed him.
Cllr Berry said that until now she been unaware of the unfinished cycle path, even though she uses the route regularly.
She added: “We need a segregated cycle path because it’s good for safety, encourages more people to cycle and will reduce air pollution.
“It will turn this traffic-infested route into a proper place for people and communities.
“I understand that Transport for London have offered to do some modelling of the boulevard scheme to see if it can work. They are already planning to scrap the Old Street roundabout next year, so a safe boulevard for cyclists could be the next plan.”