London universities demand improved cycling infrastructure amidst recent deaths

By Salome von Stolzmann

LSE students and staff have written an open letter ahead of the mayoral elections in May, to petition the mayoral candidates for safer streets for London’s cyclists and pedestrians. The letter is a joint campaign from staff and students of various London universities prompted by the deaths of two female LSE staff members and a male postgraduate student at the London College of Contemporary Music in cycling accidents in 2023. 

The open letter urges mayoral candidates to “put a stop to cyclist and pedestrian deaths caused by motor vehicles in London by 2028, the end of the upcoming mayoral term; and bring forward the deadline from 2041 to 2032 for London’s Vision Zero, the city’s plan to eliminate all deaths in its transport system.” It has been signed by more than 700 individual students and staff members.

LSE has recently suffered another loss, with a female PhD student dying in a bicycle collision with a truck in Farringdon on 19 March.

The letter outlines that to make London a safer city for cyclists infrastructure must be improved, including redesigning junctions and building more protected bike lanes. Improvements would make cycling more accessible and equitable as currently children, women, and ethnic minorities are especially deterred from cycling by a lack of infrastructure.

The initiative stresses that cycling improves people’s mental and physical health, offering means for busy LSE students to lead a more balanced lifestyles, particularly during stressful periods. In addition, cycling contributes to reducing  air pollution and carbon emissions, furthering LSE’s sustainability efforts. Cycling will also allow students to save on TfL fares.

Peter, one of the organisers of the open letter has expressed his hope that making cycling in London safer will improve the LSE campus, “Last year, the LSE community lost two individuals who died while cycling. Safer cycling in London will directly affect the numerous LSE students, faculty and staff that cycle every day — and the many more who hesitate to cycle because of its associated risks. Increased active travel is essential to LSE’s ambitions to create a more healthy and sustainable campus.”

Elizabeth Robinson, Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE, said:

“London’s streets are still too dangerous for cyclists, and we need to see action.

“Last year we were devastated when LSE lost two of our colleagues whilst cycling. They were taken from this world far too soon.

“I am calling on the next Mayor of London to prioritise cycling safety as a matter of urgent importance.”

Anika Heckwolf, Policy Analyst at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE, said:

“To keep cyclists safe and to enable more Londoners to enjoy the benefits of cycling, the next Mayor of London must make cycling safety in London a top priority.

It is great that TFL already has a plan to eliminate cycling deaths but 2041 is far too late. We need to make cycling in London safe today.

Salome covers a London-wide campaign for safer cycling following the deaths of several university staff and students.


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