Protesters stage “die-in” outside Greenwich town hall as two cyclists die on road less than mile apart

By EUAN O’BYRNE MULLIGAN

Friends and campaigners paid tribute to two cyclists killed on the same road in Greenwich at a protest outside Woolwich Town Hall.

Friends of Edgaras Cepura, 37, who was hit by a lorry at the Angerstein roundabout, spoke of how calm and responsible he was as a cyclist and person.

At the vigil and ‘die in’, organised by Stop Killing Cyclists (SKC), protesters lay in the road with their bikes in front of the entrance to Woolwich Town Hall, on Thursday June 7.

Ben Ritchie, who worked with Mr Cepura, said: “Edgar was calm, never got angry and never used to take risks on his bike.

“He wasn’t someone who crashed a lot or ran red lights.

“And yet, it went wrong for him.

“I’m entirely sure that it was because of terrible road infrastructure, as evidenced by the fact that someone else died in the same period.

“I’ve lived in Greenwich all my life and nothing’s changed.

“Eight lanes meet at that junction and cars are always trying to catch lights at speed. It’s clearly unsafe.”

Ben Ritchie

Mr Cepura worked as a software engineer in Shoreditch and would commute daily from Woolwich via the Angerstein roundabout where he died on May 18.

The interchange connects drivers from both West and East Greenwich to the planned location for the Silvertown tunnel, the controversial transport development recently approved by TFL.

The Angerstein junction was previously included in TfL’s 2014 Safer Junctions programme but it was then dropped from the revised list of locations.

SKC are calling for TfL to restore it to the London Mayor’s Junction Priority List and for the Cycle Superhighway 4 (CS4) to be extended to Woolwich, which would involve a redesign of the roundabout.

Marian Mazarovici, who also worked with Mr Cepura, said: “Edgar was always safety aware.

“He wasn’t a risk taker.

“He was a professional person, never looking to cause trouble at work or on the road.

“As a friend of a cyclist who died, I want to ensure his death wasn’t in vain.

“I hope these deaths will lead to change.”

Oliver Speke, 46, died a week before Mr Cepura after being struck by a lorry on Woolwich Road.

Protestors gathered outside the town hall at 6pm, making a series of speeches in which they called for the council to make cycling safer in the borough.

Staging a ‘die in’, they lay in silence on the road for seven minutes, blocking traffic.

Donnachadh McCarthy, SKC co-founder, said: “Woolwich Road is a death trap.

“We want Greenwich council to support the expansion of CS4 so it can be extended to Woolwich Road.

“They need to turn the Angerstein roundabout into a normal traffic light junction, with protected space for cyclists on every single corner.

“We’re also asking the Mayor to require all HGV trucks to have blind side CCTV, so drivers can always see cyclists, not crush and kill them.

“It would only cost £1000 per truck, that’s a drop in the ocean of the Mayor’s budget, and it needs to be done as soon as possible.”

Council leader Dan Thorpe, said: “It was a very sombre experience to be here with everyone paying their respects to two people who’ve lost their lives but also coming together to see what can be done to prevent the loss of further life and improve the safety of the roundabout as quickly as possible.

“I’ve already reached out to the Mayor’s office and the cycling commissioner to invite them down to take a look at the roundabout to see what immediate improvements we can all make to improve safety for everyone.

“But in the long term we need to bring forward the delivery of CS4 into Woolwich as soon as possible, which will bring about further safety improvements to the road.”

A Mayor of London spokesman said: “Reducing road danger is a top priority for the Mayor and TfL, which is why we’re investing record amounts in building new  infrastructure to make cycling and walking safer across London. Under the Mayor’s plans, the most dangerous HGVs with poor driver vision will be removed from London’s streets entirely, going much further than plans to install CCTV proposed by the previous Mayor.

“TfL’s ground-breaking Direct Vision Standard will be the first of its kind in the world, directly addressing the issue of lethal driver blindspots in lorries when it comes into effect next year. “We have ambitions to make the route between Greenwich and Woolwich Road safer for cyclists, and we will continue to work with the council – who are responsible for the road – to make this a reality.”

We contacted TfL for a comment but did not get a response.

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