Killer questions

Judge John DeedThe driver whose lorry killed Eilidh Cairns in Notting Hill in 2009 was fined £200 for driving with uncorrected defective eyesight. Private Eye reports he subsequently failed an eyesight test and had his licence revoked. Then last year he got it back. This year he was questioned by the police after his lorry struck and killed 97-year-old Nora Gutmann on the Marylebone Road.

The Cairns family has asked the High Court to quash the the “accidental death” verdict and order a new inquest. They argue that “There was a failure to consider the wider impact of Eilidh’s death and the huge problem facing cyclists in London.” From

However, Jonathan Hough, representing the coroner, insisted that the incident was of a type that is “tragically common,” and that no element of it would lead the coroner to consider that it “illustrated a systemic problem or that it might call for some specific response.”

Here we see what follows from the vandalisation of our public space. The roads are dangerous. Sadly, some cyclists who insist on riding on them will die. People operating dangerous vehicles have a duty of care, but not the kind of duty of care that delays traffic.

Note the incoherence of the argument. Such “incidents” are “tragically common” – therefore there is no question of a systemic problem.

Cycling deaths are normal and require no wider inquiry by a coroner. Where is Judge John Deed now we need him most?


Camden & Islington Air Quality Summit, 21 Nov

Air-pollution-in-LondonHosted by Camden’s Cabinet Member for Sustainability, Sean Birch, and Islington Council’s Leader, Catherine West, this event will bring together a range of expert speakers to share information on:

  • the health impacts of air pollution
  • how you can protect yourself from the worst exposure to air pollutants
  • actions that can be taken at a regional, local, organisational and individual level to
  • reduce air pollution.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Frank Kelly, Kings College London – an overview of pollutants and health impacts
  • James Grugeon, CEO, Environmental Protection UK – healthy air campaign
  • Isabel Dedring, Mayor of London’s Environment Advisor – national and regional context
  • Simon Birkett, founder of Clean Air London – proposals for London
  • Sir Roger Madelin, CEO, Argent – enhancing the urban realm to improve air quality
  • Lucinda Turner, Policy Manager, Transport for London (TfL) – TfL clean Air fund projects
  • Justin Laney, Transport Manager, John Lewis Plc – alternative fuels and technologies for business fleets.

Serious patrol

On the Woolwich ferry

On the Woolwich ferry

The US Navy has a policy of sending warships through passages such as the Straits of Hormuz, lest anyone forget these are international waters upon which anyone may sail.

No one lives up there in the cold, but the Danish navy’s elite Sirius Patrol tracks around the vast spaces of north and east Greenland, lest anyone forget whose they are.

Apart from the motorways, British roads are open to horse riders, walkers, mopeds – and bikes. But on roads like the A406, it can be easy to forget that.

Serious PatrolIn September, James Brander of Camden Cyclists led a small patrol of the brave around the North & South Circular Roads, lest anyone forget these roads are for bikes too.

Next time, let’s make it a large patrol.

Gimme shelter

Cycle shelter in Bonnington Square, SW8Lambeth has installed two on-street secure bike shelters in Bonnington Square, SW8. My neighbours and I have asked Camden for one in our street, for the many cyclists who have only communal hallways and the street itself in which to keep a bike. Camden planners have drafted a proposal.

Miki Yamanouchi took pictures of the Bonnington Square shelters.

Afterwards, tea & cakes at the Tea House Theatre – recommended!

Tour the top ten

Elephant & Castle junction

Plans for the Elephant & Castle junction

Danny of Cyclists in the City  has had it with London’s dangerous junctions and what is planned for the Elephant & Castle. He’s mad as hell and he isn’t going to take it any more.

Share the rage. Join him on Sat 12 Nov for a “tour of TfL’s ten most dangerous junctions for cycling in central London”. Bring your friends.

This is not a suicide pact. He’s expecting over a hundred riders. For once, you’ll be able to cross these junctions in safety.

Sadly, I will be out of town, zoned out in Kent after The Fridays’ night ride to Whitstable.