Camberwell ‘die-in’ showed we should make cycling safety our focus

(12 June, 2015) Editorials

Too many cyclists have died on Southwark's roads in recent years.

3131Pic: Tom Keaney

Bustling Camberwell Green came to a standstill this week as hundreds of people brought traffic to a halt and laid down in the road.

For anyone used to the thrum of this major junction, the photo we have used on page 16 and the video we are featuring online, will have a real impact. And that’s the point of these cycle ‘die-ins’.

London and Southwark have seen far too many cyclists die on their roads and these protests, which have been held before and have seen hundreds take part, are arranged to make sure that we don’t become hardened to an all too regular ocurrence.

Monday’s ‘die-in’ was in memory of 32-year-old cyclist Esther Hartsilver, a physiotherapist at King’s College Hospital, who died after a collision with a lorry in Denmark Hill earlier this month.

The fault for the number of deaths does not always lie in the same place, and there can be some heightened emotions from both the cycling and driving camps on how the other follows the rules of the road. Cycle safety campaigner Donnachadh McCarthy tells us that as drivers soon cottoned on to the significance of the event, Camberwell Green fell silent as the ‘die-in’ took place. Perhaps this shows that if we all call for safer road use together, with the focus on preventing the needless loss of life rather than who can get from A to B quickest, then government – local and national – will have a clearer steer on what safety measures should be introduced. Surely all anyone wants is harmonious use of the capital’s roads?

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