Month: November 2017

Clerkenwell Boulevard Campaign – why nothing has happened in 3 years

This evening. 08.11 there will be a die-in on Upper Street in front of Islington Town Hall, to protest against the Council’s refusal to build safe cycling infrastructure. A few days ago, Islington Cycle campaigners wrote a painfully cringy open letter to Claudia Webbe, supporting the cause of the die-in but emphasising that “We wish to make it clear that no one in CI has initiated or asked for this action.”

It didn’t have to be this way. If you read our previous report, THREE years ago Islington Council had prepared plans for segregated cycle tracks on Clerkenwell Road and Old Street; not perfect, but at the time they were the best that London had seen.

This was a golden opportunity to steer this traditionally reluctant Council towards implementing state-of the-art safe cycling provisions; the Clerkenwell Boulevard would have been a turning point for the way Councils invested public money to create Healthy Streets, and other Councils would have started to compete with Islington on who was putting the best infrastructure in their borough.

Alas, here is a tweet from yesterday:

Yes. Nothing, absolutely nothing has been done, in spite of several deaths and amputations in the past three years.

Islington Council is run by a Labour administration which has the perverse attitude that cycling is a middle-class activity that has no appeal to the “working class” or (as stated by Webbe) to black people; and therefore they see no reason to waste their time on it. “Their” people take the bus and sod everyone else. Actually there is another large minority that these Labour dinosaurs (no coincidence that Corbyn lives here) are keen to protect: car owners; their right to park their tanks on public property or to poison our children is sacrosanct.

Facing these troglodytes, campaigners need to show strength in numbers, shrewdness and ruthlessness.

Unfortunately campaigners from Camden Cyclists, Islington Cycle and London Cycle Campaign displayed the exact opposite: internal disunity, strategic naivety and timidity.

Here is what happened to Andrea Casalotti, the lead campaigner:

  • Jean Dollimore, of Camden Cyclists colluded with Camden Council to have Andrea excluded from negotiations about Holborn. Result: in spite of empty promises following the Coroner’ PFD report relating to the killing of Francis Golding, nothing has been done to make this death trap safer.
  • The Board of Islington Cycle refused to challenge Islington Council’s attempt to blackball Andrea from stakeholder meetings, meaning that the leading Boulevard campaigner could not negotiate on the Boulevard
  • The London Cycling Campaign refused to give any technical or promotional support to the Boulevard campaign. It then started a witch-hunt Tribunal against Andrea, spurred by Camden Cyclists, claiming that “Honorary Campaigner” Dollimore had been libelled by him.


It was no surprise that after this treatment by these so-called “campaigners”, Andrea resigned from his position in spring 2015 and devoted himself to the Vision Zero London effort.

The “campaigners” must have heaved a sigh of relief: this troublesome European gone, we can go back to our comfortable cosying up with the Councils.

It is a tragedy; this is what Clerkenwell Road could look like:

Instead for thousands of people their daily commute is a dreadful cocktail of danger and noxious air.

But are the key players aware of their failures?

Other articles:

The Clerkenwell Boulevard Campaign – Part 1

The Victoria Lebrec Crash

How Islington Council spent £500,000 of cycle money without doing anything on the ground

The Bath Street scheme, another failed promise by Islington Council

The broken TfL Traffic models, the alleged excuse Islington Council gives for not going ahead with the Boulevard plans

Boris Johnson admits Old Street needs to be filtered

TfL’s delays with Old Street Roundabout

Islington Council refusal to stop Clerkenwell rat runs is lethal




A traumatic experience

A horrific incident:

Pascoe Petgrave, 21, was behind the wheel of a grey BMW which struck 30-year-old Chanelle Higgins and her friend Nikisha Cox as they walked home from a night out in south London.

CCTV caught the moment Petgrave’s car, driving along the pavement in Norwood High Street, in West Norwood, sent the two women crashing to the ground.

Ms Higgins was paralysed from the waist down and is now in a wheelchair. Ms Cox was hurt in the crash but escaped serious injury.

Petgrave did not stop after the 4.30am crash, handing himself in to police more than two weeks later.

A quick search of the driver leads to this story (warning: Daily Mail) when he was 12:

More than 50 police officers swarmed on a 12-year-old boy accused of stealing a £10 note which was hanging out of a cashpoint. The army of officers was called after a row broke out when a woman, 27, accused Pascoe Petgrave of stealing the tenner from an HSBC bank machine in Thornton Heath, south London. Pascoe, who stands at just 1.40m, said he had been given his mum’s bank card to withdraw money when he spotted the note – but the woman who had been nearby claimed it belonged to her. Pascoe’s cousins – two women aged 21 and 28 – stepped in to stand up for him and a large crowd gathered before the trio were arrested on suspicion of theft.


The boy’s mother Maxine who was called to the scene by the cousins, then watched in astonishment as her son was handcuffed and taken into police custody. All three cousins have since been bailed while enquiries continue. Mrs Petgrave said yesterday: ‘He’s never been in any trouble before. This was a horrific ordeal for my 12-year-old boy, he was handcuffed and put into a headlock. When my house was burgled a year ago I wish they had sent just one of those officers. How did a row over a £10 note hanging out of an ATM machine get to that point?’

Nine years later and Petgrave was deep in gang wars:

Croydon Police gang’s task force recommended Petgrave be moved out of Croydon for the safety of him and his family. Petgrave had been twice chased by men armed with knives in the weeks before the crash, and was deemed “at risk of gang violence”.

pascoe1a“Pascoe poses a huge risk both to himself and his immediate family of serious harm from other gang rivals. His lifestyle is having a detrimental effect on his family life.”

One wonders how much influence that incident in front of the ATM machine had in shaping Pascoe’s life. Was being the victim of institutionalised violence a tipping point to a life of crime?

The result is that a woman is paralysed for life because of the recklessness of Petgrave.

Vision Zero means going beyond blaming drivers for specific incidents. It is understanding that gangs members are often at the wheels of powerful vehicles, with scant concern of the safety of others. They don’t just kill each other, they terrorise ordinary citizens and occasionally kill and maim them.

A car in their hands is no different than a knife. Indeed a number of gang disputes have ended in murders-by car. So why not treat motor vehicles the same way we treat knives? For example, imagine if any criminal conviction would lead to an automatic five year driving ban, and driving without licence would lead to an automatic ten year jail sentence.

Of course the stick is not sufficient; one must start by treating everyone with respect starting from 12 year old black children.