Tragic death on Catford Rd

Lewisham Cyclists were devastated to hear that someone was killed riding their bicycle through Catford on the A205 South Circular road on Wednesday 30th October. Our thoughts are with the deceased’s loved ones.

This needless death occurred just the day after someone else was seriously injured on the same road only a few yards away. We don’t know the exact circumstances of what happened in these collisions, but we do know that collisions with vulnerable road users are not unusual on this road and at its junctions. And is why we have, along with other local organisations and individuals, been asking for safer infrastructure to protect people on bikes and people walking at this location, for a long time. So, whilst we are shocked and saddened, we are not surprised.

We know Lewisham Council has a Catford masterplan in early planning stages which we hope will transform the town centre and make it far more accessible, improving the public realm for people walking and cycling. But, if we are to avoid more tragic incidents, we believe the danger posed by this road at Catford Bridge needs to be addressed immediately. The Masterplan deals with a substantial public realm intervention which will take some time to implement and It is not acceptable to ask vulnerable road users to wait any longer, running a daily risk to life and limb using this section of road outside Catford Station. The road danger can and must be addressed first, without waiting for the Masterplan. 

The South Circular Rd is an important part of London’s transport infrastructure and a key entry point to Catford town centre and needs treating as such. Previously the council and TfL have made the grave mistake of trying to fit road infrastructure around a public realm development project, specifically at Lewisham Gateway, which is widely recognised now as not fit for purpose by neither any measure of public safety, nor TfL’s own Healthy Streets scoring matrix. The lesson learned from this should be that you cannot shoehorn safe segregated space for vulnerable road users into the space left once a development is planned and agreed. Safe space, separated from motor vehicles, has to be a first priority, not an afterthought.

At Catford Bridge, we have lobbied for additional safe space for walking and cycling being cantilevered to this dangerously narrow section of road on the railway bridge and would ask that this option is considered again as an immediate priority. This has been successfully achieved in other parts of London, such as Waltham Forest. 

In the interim some kind of temporary measure must also be put in place there to protect specifically, people on bikes.

As people who have to use this route daily we there is no functional alternative if you’re riding a bike to and from the south east of the borough.  Their immediate safety needs addressing now. 

In order for the Mayor of London to meet his Vision Zero target, this road and other major junctions on the TLRN  within Lewisham require immediate attention. This is the sixth fatality on Lewisham’s roads since the Mayor of London signed up to Vision Zero, according to the data held by DfT.  If you include those seriously injured, the number increases to 102.  To date, there is no segregated safe space on any TfL controlled road in the borough of Lewisham.

We call on the council and City Hall to work together now to make our streets safer for all road users. No more unnecessary and avoidable deaths and injuries. No more families devastated. We need to see firm commitments made in terms of when and how these dangers can be made safe, and start work immediately. 

Lewisham Cyclists’ blueprint for a safer Catford is:• Provide safe segregated space for walking and cycling on Catford Bridge through the provision of a cantilevered extension to the existing railway bridge.• Ensure the redesigned South Circular and A21 junction includes safe direct pedestrian crossing points and segregated cycle lanes with protection for cyclists from turning vehicles.• Progressively extend the A21 segregated cycle lanes northbound to Lewisham and southbound to Bromley (the A21 ‘Spine’ project).• Permanently remove unnecessary through traffic from the residential areas around Catford centre.

Rest in peace Lukasz

Lewisham Cyclists, Lewisham Borough Group of the London Cycling Campaign