Cyclists and disabled people to block central London road

By staff writers
8 Jan 2012

Cyclists, pedestrians and disability activists are planning to block a dangerous road in central London to call for "a change in the balance of power on London's roads".

They will block a junction outside King's Cross station between 6.00 pm and 7.00 pm tomorrow (Monday 9 January). They are calling for “an end to the official policy of giving priority to the speed and volume of motor vehicles above the safety and sanity of everyone else”.

The action has been organised by Bikes Alive, who are angry about the number of cyclists killed on London's roads. It is backed by Transport for All, who work for disability equality on transport issues in London. The Green Party's candidate for Mayor of London, Jenny Jones, has now confirmed that she will join in the protest.

While recognising that some people need to drive in central London – particularly drivers with mobility impairments - they insist that the majority of motorists in the city centre could easily use public transport instead.

Bikes Alive say they are beginning a campaign of nonviolent direct action because “polite meetings and symbolic action are having, on their own, too little effect”.

“Monday's event is the first step in a campaign to stop - by whatever nonviolent means needed - the completely unnecessary level of deaths, injuries and fear inflicted by motorists on the more vulnerable,” said Albert Beale of Bikes Alive.

The group is calling for “changes which would improve the safety of all slow-moving and vulnerable road users, including the re-timing of traffic lights at junctions and crossings to allow much longer periods between successive green-for-traffic phases”.

Lianna Etkind of Transport for All criticised London mayor Boris Johnson. She said, “The mayor's insidious talk of 'smoothing traffic flow' covers an agenda of prioritising impatient motorists over the safety of pedestrians”.

Etkind insisted that “disabled and older people's safety and independence is being put at risk by shortsighted streetscene policies, particularly the removal of crossings”.

The Green Party's Jenny Jones, who will stand against Boris Johnson at the mayoral election in May, said "London’s roads must be fixed urgently if we are to make them safe for cyclists and all other road users”.

She added, “This is the mayor’s responsibility, and I hope that if we make a statement through peaceful, direct action, he will start to listen”.

[Ekk/1]

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