On Saturday the 12th of February 2017, protesters gathered outside the HM Treasury on Horseguards Parade. The protest was a plea to Chancellor Philip Hammond to improve the safety of London’s roads and cycle highways through an increase in the transport budget by 2020.
The protest saw hundreds of enraged city dwellers stage a scene re-enacting fatal bike accidents. Even more impactful, was the mass amount of children who were protesting, they held signs reading “don’t let traffic kill us“. The children stood in lines wearing gas masks and parading the signs high above their heads.
The protest became evidently important in light of the recent fatalities that took place in last week. Three named cyclists; Ben Wales, Anita Szucs and Karla Roman all tragically died from fatal injuries when they were hit by oncoming traffic in the London area. All three fatalities happened within the space of a week.
Cycling has always been a part of London culture, however, with the ever increasing popularity of commuters opting to cycle rather than use TFL’s public transport, the need for more safety infrastructures has become vital. For the most part, cycling is a healthier solution and would, in retrospect, be better for the cycle rider and the environment. However, the increase in bikers on the roads has caused for more fatalities to occur. Alongside this, the super cycle highways that cost the government … have caused more concern than joy for the regular cycle riders in London. Alongside this, the introduction of Borris Bikes (Santander Cycles) has raised concern over the types of cycle riders taking to the roads. Some cycle riders are mere amateurs and some… well… may have had a little too much to drink when they hop on a bike. There is a genuine need for change as inevitably more people will take to bike riding in the near future.
Photo Source: Alex Graham @agrahami
The recent protest was organised by Stop The Killing Campaign. Their aim is to stop futile fatalities from occurring and raise the public’s awareness of the government’s dwindling budget for travellers and pedestrians which ultimately causes needless fatalities to occur every year. Below are the aims that Stop The Killing campaign wish to change in the near future:
Stop the killing of children.
Create living-street home zones for children to be protected in their residential areas.
Stop the killing of pedestrians
Remodel pedestrian areas, particularly in Oxford Street to create a safer space for pedestrians to travel without congested pathways.
Stop the killing of Pensioners
Introduce new speed limits.
Stop the killing of Cyclists
Invest £15 billion in a National Segregated Cycle Network
Stop the killing of HGV’s
Enforce new truck laws for road safety
Stop the killing without responsibility
Persecute vehicle users who kill when there is no evidence it was caused by the victim
Stop the killing of humans via diseases
Pollution causes heart failure, lung failure and various cancers
Stop the killing at junctions
Create more pedestrian crossings
Stop killing the environment
CO2 emissions kill
Inevitably people have taken to Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to express their anger towards the lack of safety on London’s streets.
The most effective way by which cyclists are documenting the unsafe space of London streets is via a GoPro camera. Through the invention of GoPro, cyclists are able to capture drivers speeding within the cycle superhighways.
Examples of this can be seen in the video below taken from Youtube:
Source: The Guardian
In the video, at timecode 1.54 a Queen Mary, University of London (Mile End) student was hit by a speeding car further exemplifying the haunted nature of this dangerous stretch of road in East London. Two of the cyclists who had died this week also died on this very road that stretches from Stratford to Aldgate East stations.
In stark comparison…
Copenhagen in Denmark is known for its reputation as a clean and historical city and the efficient cycle paths. Copenhagen’s cycle highways take over the majority of the cities ground, encouraging the majority of the population to cycle as opposed to using public transport. Copenhagen’s impeccable cycle highways can be understood more here.
For example, Instagram users praise the open space provided in Copenhagen. #Curlycamel on Instagram shares her gratitude for the super highways using romanticised hashtags such as; #dontstop #chasinsunsets #copenhagencycling .
Source: Instagram user @curlycamel
Alternatively, London Cyclists often use social platforms to protest against the lack of funding for road safety in London. Instagram user #Bakerpictures shares the protest below.
Source: Instagram @Bakerspictures