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?