‘We were preparing for our friend’s 40th’: Safety measures to be brought in at accident blackspot where eight cyclists have died since 2008

A separate cycle lane proposal for High Holborn

Safety measures are set to be introduced at an accident blackspot where eight cyclists have died since 2008.

In March, lawyer Shatha Ali died after a collision at the Holborn Gyratory, which the London Cycling Campaign recently highlighted as one of London’s three most dangerous junctions.

One of Ali’s friends, Juman Kubba, has campaigned for safety improvements and welcomed the move.

She said: “We were preparing for our friend’s 40th and preparing for the new phase of her life.”

She told councillors Ali’s death was shocking “because it was so sudden and it was shocking because it was so needless”.

She added: “We should be able to cycle in London without putting our lives at risk. We should be able to choose safer means of transport, better for the environment without putting our lives at risk. Unfortunately we don’t have that at the moment in London.

“We don’t have that at places like Holborn. We think it’s really important that Camden makes the changes at Holborn and it is a precedent for wider changes acoss London.”

In 2013 a coroner recommended urgent action at the accident blackspot and Kubba said: “Unfortunately action does not seem to have happened after that.”

Camden’s cabinet this week agreed to improvements at High Holborn, Drake Street, Procter Street, Red Lion Square and Southampton Row after a consultation this summer.

The changes include enlarging cycle boxes at the junction of Theobalds Road and Drake Street, segregating bikes from other traffic on Drake Street and Proctor Street and two-way cycling in and out of Red Lion Square.

There will be a cycle gate at the Procter Street junction with High Holborn and a separate signalised cycle lane on High Holborn.

Other moves include giving cyclists a five-second headstart over cars and a bigger cycle box at the junction of High Holborn and Southampton Row, with two-stage right turn facilities and an extension to the southbound bus lane on Southampton Row from Catton Street.

The ahead and right turn lane on Kingsway north will be converted into a right turn only into Remnant Street.

There will also be improvements to pedestrian crossings.

There are also changes to loading in the area and new rain gardens.

Adam Harrison, the cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, said: “It is absolutely right that we should be able  to cycle in London without putting our lives at risk.”

Next year he hopes to bring in changes for the Theobalds Road and Clerkenwell Road junction.

Liberal Democrat opposition leader Tom Simon said: “It is something that clearly needs to be done. It’s a very thorough scheme and we really welcome the changes.”

In August the council brought in improvements, including a new cycle gate at Southampton Row, on the junction with the busy Theobalds Road so bikes could move before the general traffic and created a segregated cycle track.

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