A total ban on lorries during rush hour is ‘urgently’ needed after the death of another cyclist in Southwark last week – the fourth in the borough since 2013.
Esther Hartsilver, 32, was cycling by the junction of Denmark Hill and Orpheus Street when she was involved in a collision with a lorry and critically injured.
She was rushed to nearby King’s College Hospital, where she also worked as a physiotherapist, but died that evening.
Her tragic death has seen both politicians and road safety campaigners calling for change.
Southwark Council Leader Peter John said a total ban of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) during rush hour was needed to secure the safety of the capital’s cyclists.
Cllr John said: “Last year I proposed a London-wide ban on HGVs during rush hour to protect cyclists, and following the tragic death of Esther Hartsilver the case for such a ban remains strong. I will be writing to the Mayor of London this week asking him to look at this with us urgently.”
Harriet Harman, MP for Camberwell and Peckham, also voiced her support for the council’s proposed ‘safe cycling hour’ initiative.
However, the co-founder of pressure group, Stop Killing Cyclists, argued that it was the lack of action by the council that was contributing to these deaths.
Donnachadh McCarthy pointed out that a safe cycling route had been proposed at Camberwell Green two years ago but was rejected by the Camberwell Community Council after consultation with residents, and accused the council of not spending “a penny” on segregated cycle lanes.
He said: “This is a wake-up call. They must stop their lethal policies and make the roads safe for human beings. Let’s make sure Southwark Council is held accountable for their policies.”
The group have also organised a ‘die in’ protest and vigil for this coming Monday at 6pm. Cyclists will light candles, lay flowers around a ‘ghost bike’ and block traffic by lying on the road by Camberwell Green.
Cllr John responded by asserting the council’s commitment to making cycling “safer for everyone in Southwark” and pledged to invest “millions of pounds in cycling over the next five years.”
He said: “It is too early to speculate on the events surrounding the tragic death of Ms Hartsilver but the council is speaking with Transport for London about a number of changes to the Camberwell network and we will be working with TfL, who we need to agree any decisions.”
Ms Hartsilver’s death provoked an outpouring of grief from both colleagues in the Southwark medical community and friends. A spokesperson for King’s described her as a “dear and respected” member of staff, while Guy’s and St Thomas’, where she had also worked, said she “will be remembered with great fondness.”