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End parking at bottleneck before someone is killed

20 June, 2019

• FEW, if any, would surely disagree with Claudia Webbe when, in welcoming her new boss, Keith Townsend, as the borough’s corporate director of environment and regeneration, she states that “In Islington we believe making our borough a fairer place must include…[changing] our roads to encourage more people to walk and cycle.”

A simple question: what is “fair” about our borough’s residential streets being littered with parked vehicles when just 26 per cent of households own or have access to a private car (Transport for London)?

Hindering visibility for pedestrians trying to cross our roads and subjecting cyclists to close passes and worse, this use of public space by the better-off minority of vehicle-owning households stinks of privilege.

Why are Cllr Webbe and the council executive afraid to tackle the issue, one made worse by the obvious increase in the numbers of 4×4 mini-tanks parked up across Islington? The Labour Party’s mantra is, after all, “For the many, not the few.”

Last month, a pupil at St Mary Magdalene Academy, in Liverpool Road, was thrown from his bike while cycling down nearby Crossley Street, a rat-running side road jam-packed with parked vehicles.

According to his mother, the student sustained fractures to both right forearm bones and required an open reduction of his radius bone. It seems he was hit by an oncoming vehicle, with a ladder on the roof. The driver was returning from the school-run.

Parking endangers active travellers on foot and bike, and can lead to fatalities. The inquest into the death of geneticist Dr Maria Bitner-Glindzicz, killed cycling to work at Great Ormond Street, has yet to be held.

The – now-deceased – driver of a parked van had been charged with “opening his door to endanger a person”. The cyclist swerved into the path of an oncoming taxi.

Sam Harding was killed by a bus in 2012 when a driver opened his car door in front of him [The motorist was cleared of manslaughter].

It is widely accepted that the 20mph speed limit reduces the risk of death and serious injury. The removal of parking from the streets where we live would do likewise.

Footnote: Announcing the consultation into the proposed new cycleway between Finsbury Park and Highbury on Twitter, Councillor Webbe repeats her commitment to fairness “with streets that help our residents’ health & wellbeing”.

Formerly known as Quietway 10, the southern arm of this scheme will eventually reach Farringdon.

But action is required now to remove parking from the dangerous bottleneck along the route that is Thornhill Road between Barnsbury Park and Offord Road before a KSI – killed or seriously injured – event occurs.

When will Cllr Webbe authorise this? Words are no substitute for action.

Ellington Street, N7


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