Cyclist killed in lorry collision outside Holborn Station

By Aysha Sarah

On Tuesday 1 March, a cyclist was killed in a fatal collision with a HGV lorry outside Holborn Station. The scene was cordoned off with a heavy police presence in the area following the incident. 

A spokesperson for the Met Police said: ‘‘Police were called at 10:08 am on Tuesday, March 1 to outside Holborn Station, Kingsway, WC2. An HGV was reported to be in collision with a cyclist. The London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade attended the scene.’’

The cyclist, 39 year old, Shatha Ali, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her family have described her as a “social cyclist” who knew London’s roads well. Ali was cycling from Rotherhithe to Maida Vale at the time of the fatal collision.

No arrests have been made in connection with the incident so far, but the police’s enquiries are ongoing. On 2 March, the Metropolitan Police announced an appeal to find witnesses.

Detective Sergeant Rebecca Collens, leader of the investigation, said: “This is an incredibly tragic incident and we are working hard to establish exactly what happened.

“We are especially keen to speak to a woman who handed in the victim’s mobile phone after it fell to the floor during the collision. We also think she may have witnessed the collision itself. If this is you, please come forward and speak to us. You aren’t in any trouble but your information could be key to our investigation.”

‘‘Likewise, if you were driving in the area please check your dashcam for any recordings that may have captured this collision.”

As a result of the crash, road closures were put in place and congestion was reported in the local area. The A40 High Holborn was closed in the westbound direction and southbound Southampton Row was blocked. Additionally, there were diversion routes in place for buses 8, 98, 243 and 521.

In response to the incident, the London Cycling Campaign has organised a protest for Friday 4 March at 5.30 pm to call attention to the continued lack of action to address road danger at this hazardous junction and others in the Holborn one-way system. They have also announced a vigil to honour the victim. This will be held at Holborn on the same day at 6 pm. 

The protesters are expected to meet at Russell Square at 5.30 pm for the protest and ride south at 5.50 pm to the junction outside Holborn Station, where the fatality occurred.

Simon Munk, Campaigns Manager of the London Cycling Campaign, said: ​“Our thoughts are with the friends and family of the woman killed. Yet again, the Holborn system of one-ways and junctions has resulted in a fatal collision – the eighth since 2008. Rapid and bold change at this and all junctions at Holborn must happen now.’’

Only last August Dr Marta Krawiec was fatally injured by a HGV as it turned left at the junction of Theobalds Road and Southampton Row, about 200 yards further north from the latest fatal collision.

Transformation of the Holborn gyratory has been delayed due to Transport for London having a lack of funds, primarily due to a collapse in income resulting from the pandemic.

However, following the incident last August, Camden Council did make temporary changes to the Theobalds Road/Southampton Row intersection last September and began implementing permanent changes in January.

These included reducing the number of lanes on the Southampton Row approaching the junction from three to two to reduce the risk of vehicles turning left on cyclists.

The most recent phase of work will include a newly-segregated cycle track on Southampton Row, as well as ‘‘early start’’ traffic lights for cyclists in all directions, lasting approximately four seconds. 

Third-year LSE student, Edmund Kong, occasionally cycles to campus. He commented on the incident: “The junctions near campus are pretty dangerous [because] if you or the driver are not careful you can quite easily find yourself under the wheel.”

He also stated, “On one instance, I almost got run over [at] the junction at Theobalds Road [as] it’s a bit hard to see cars coming in from the small alleys.”

“That being said, cycling in London is generally very safe – there are certainly worse cities to cycle in, and I think this shouldn’t put people off from cycling. You just need to be highly aware at all times and communicate to drivers what your intentions are.”

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