Protest over deadly bike facilities at St Pancras

By Rosee Woodland, commuting correspondent | Wednesday, November 14, 2007 3.27pm

The family of a cyclist killed near London's new international Eurostar terminal were among demonstrators who held a protest at the station on its launch day.

Mum-of-two Emma Foa was crushed to death by a cement lorry last December while cycling to work along Camley Street, next to St Pancras International.

Campaigners held a minute's silence at the spot where the 56-year-old jeweller died, during their demo about cycling facilities at the new terminal, which officially opened to the public today (November 14).

Campaigners from the Camden and City groups of the London Cycling Campaignwant a 20mph speed limit around all of the station area plus the completion of two-way links to the London Cycle Network. Eurostar's old home at Waterloo station was by comparison linked directly to the National Cycle Network.

Protestor Mark Whitby, formerly president in 2001 of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said, "St Pancras International itself may be a masterpiece of transport engineering but this stops when you walk out of the station.

"The streets around it are the opposite of European best practice and are an insult to anyone who is walking or cycling. While pedestrians leaving the new station are herded into 'cattle pens' to cross the road, cyclists are sent round an extended gyratory system."

Members of the LCC descended on the station at 8.30am and rode together around the terminal's feeder roads to highlight what they claim is a poor layout for cyclists and insecure parking.

Recently the campaigners declared a partial victory after Network Rail, which oversees the UK's rail infrastructure, pledged to make space to park 100 bikes available for the St Pancras International opening, rather than the 30 'wheelbender locks' in place during the station's £800 million refurbishment.

Camden Cycling Campaign co-ordinator Jean Dollimore said, "Proper stands for 100 bikes is definitely a step in the right direction but the huge demand at other London stations shows we’re likely to need a lot more. Rotterdam's new railway station is to have 8,000 while Cambridge is being expanded from 2,000 to 3,000."

The CTC - the UK's biggest cyclists' club, has echoed the LCC's complaints.

CTC campaigns coordinator Richard George said,"It’s great that you can park your bike when you arrive at this major international station – but getting there is still a nightmare. St. Pancras is surrounded by one-way systems full of heavy, fast-moving traffic and aggressive driving, which forces cyclists to take the law into their own hands, many in desperation fleeing to the pavement."

A spokesman for London and Continental Railways, which runs St Pancras, has defended the new design of the station and recently told Bikeradar, "Having cyclists in mind has been absolutely front and centre in [designing] the road layout."

Yesterday Eurostar spokesman Seth Williams told Bikeradar that from early 2008 cyclists would be able to reserve a space for their bikes on trains between London and mainland Europe which would guarantee they would arrive at the same time.

Currently, bikes which are checked in as baggage rather than dismantled and carried on are only guaranteed to arrive within 24 hours of their owner.

Mr Williams could not confirm exactly when the new service would be launched but did pledge that it would not cost any more than the current £20 handling charge.

Foa inquest finding leads to calls for safer lorries, better training

Emma Foa's inquest last week (November 5) heard she was killed when she was trapped against a set of railings by a 20 tonne cement truck as it turned left at the junction of Camley Road and Goods Way near St Pancras station.

Ms Foa, who was wearing a helmet and a high visibility jacket at the time of her death on December 22, 2006, had previously been described by her family as a "very careful cyclist".

St Pancras coroner Dr Andrew Reid said he had presided over too many inquests investigating the deaths of cyclists hit by lorries.

Dr Reid said he had written to the Government five years ago to highlight the problem, following the death of a cyclist at the same junction.

Lorry driver, Michael Thorn, was recently fined £300 after admitting a charge of driving without due care and attention at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

He said he had been checking some paperwork while waiting at the junction and had checked his mirrors, but failed to see the mother of two.

After the hearing, which recorded a verdict of accidental death, Ms Foa's husband Reg Wright, 53, called for it to be made compulsory for HGVs to be fitted with three mirrors on the nearside, and for better driver training, echoing a recent petition by the London Cycling Campaign.

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