Sunday, 22 January 2012

Gayle O'Donovan: Tribute Page

Died: Saturday January 21st 2012

This page is to express our thoughts and and memories of Gayle.
She touched many of us.

You can leave messages below.

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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Southern Voices: Another Perspective

The upcoming workshop on Saturday (January 21st), ‘Climate Violence, History and Resistance’, looking at climate change, is being viewed with some interest. The event in Hulme, run by local network Southern Voices, critiques the commonly promoted framework of climate change understanding and its Western outlook.

Southern Voices, describe themselves as a network of people committed to bringing the knowledge and understanding of Southern and Black people to the global issues that are central to education and present-day concerns.

It’s focus is the relationship and issues affecting the countries of the South and the North and it aims to bring southern voices to fora where these issues are analysed, debated, policy decided and knowledge negotiated but where southern perspectives are seldom heard.

In fact, the workshop is the first of a series events where the main focus is Justice:

Jan 21 - ‘Climate violence’ with Kooj Chuhan at Hulme Hall

Feb 18 - ‘Climate justice: ideas into action’ with Caroline Downey, Bridge5Mill in Beswick

Mar 10 - ‘Corruption’ with Susan Chieni and ‘Cooperatives and Fair Trade’ with Yemi Adetona

Mar 31 - ‘Hidden Stories’ with Jaya Graves

Apr 14 - ‘Our role’ - justice, democracy and modern movements.

Southern Voices organisers, Jaya Graves and Dave Cooke, describe the programme as ‘opportunities for people from the South or with Southern roots to voice their experiences, ideas and analysis on critical global issues. This is so often missing in the media and the development of policy and practice. Listen to and engage with the South!’

Jaya/ Dave additionally says ‘The workshops will include presentations but also opportunity to discuss and examine the issues with other participants.’

To book onto any of the events email Dave Cooke at

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Friday, 6 January 2012

A Northern View: The Ghosts of London

The ghost bike at the junction at Kings Cross station marks the place where Min Joo Lee (Deep Lee to her friends) died on her way to college. It was October 3rd, her first day back at Central St Martin’s. (picture from

She was one of the 16 cyclists killed during 2011 on the roads of London, which started with the death of Gary Mason, former British Boxing champion on January 6th 2011.

Min Joo’s death was marked by a vigil in which her friends spoke and all the cyclists killed that year were commemorated. It was one of the growing number of events and actions to highlight the increasing number of cyclists Killed or involved in Serious Incidents (KSI) on the streets of London. These include the ghost bike memorials, the newly created Tour du Danger, cycle safety projects and pressure groups. Several activists have created maps of London danger points for cyclists. Other maps are here, here and here.

While its accepted that accidents happen, the number of KSIs in London is viewed as being unacceptably high by campaigners.

Transport for London (TfL), which has statutory responsibility for traffic and road safety, produces statistics on collisions involving cyclists. According to the TfL’s ‘Cycle Safety End of Year Review 2011’, ‘In 2010, the number of KSIs while cycling fell by18 per cent, when compared with the 1994/98 baseline, indicating that cycling is becoming relatively safer’, followed by a graph showing the stats per year from 1994 to 2010. That graph, however, also seems to show that cycle-related collisions from 1997 show a decrease year on year to a low point in 2005. Since 2005, collisions have risen annually to its current point in 2010. The actual figures are to be found at TfL’s Road Safety Unit. In its fact sheet on cycling it can plainly be seen that when comparing from 2005, 2010 KSI’s have risen by 20% (to 467) and total collisions (slight, serious and fatal) by 27% (to 4007).

This difference in perspective is a significant area of concern for campaigners especially when it comes to the actions of TfL and there have been calls for TfL to face corporate manslaughter charges. Activist’s publicising of London’s 10 deadliest junctions for cyclists was to underline a fact outlined in TfL’s own ‘Cycle Safety Action Plan’ (page 14), ‘Data shows that 79% of casualties were injured at, or within 20 metres of a junction, highlighting the vulnerability of cyclists in these locations.’

Campaigners have repeatedly stressed the dangerous junctions and implied that TfL’s lack of action was a potential contributing factor in cyclist’s deaths. A suggested reason for a lack of action in this area has been TfL’s competing priority of maintaining traffic flow.

The other big factors in the number of cycle deaths are larger vehicles (HGVs, trucks and lorries). In 2010, these vehicles were involved in over 50% of fatalities (page 16). Though a recent article suggests the death figures for 2011 will be higher, a report into cycle deaths between 1992 and 2006 states that an average of 43% of these incidents involved HGVs. The researchers go on to suggest HGVs be banned from London roads to save lives.

Larger vehicles have significant ‘blind-spots’, which cyclists often fall victim to. At junctions, this is often fatal, especially to women riders. pointed out that a suppressed TfL study draws attention to the fact women are more likely to be killed by lorries, because ‘they tend to obey red lights and wait at junctions, in the driver’s blind spot.’ The article also suggests advice on how to avoid accidents around larger vehicles.

TfL’s ‘complex view’ of larger vehicles worried campaigners who have complained about TfL’s lorry safety poster and are fighting the government’s moves to introduce longer lorries.

The backdrop to this is an increase in cycling numbers in London, by over 150% between 2000 and 2010. There has been some analysis of the reasons for this and not least of these are TfL’s push to increase the number of cyclists on the roads of London, supported by corporate sponsors, Barclays and Sky.

While TfL is taking some action for cycle safety, there is scepticism as to whether it will meet its own stated Cycle Safety Plan objective to ‘ensure the future growth in cycling in London is accompanied by a reduced rate of cycling casualties’ any time soon.

Min Joo’s death has spurred TfL into changing the King Cross Junction, and campaigners are planning direct action at Kings Cross on Monday January 9th, from 6pm – 7pm.

The statistics suggest that TfL should clearly be focusing its safety efforts on London junctions and on larger vehicles. Common sense suggests that this a higher priority than ‘maintaining traffic flow’ especially when trying to encourage more people to take up cycling.

Unfortunately the way things are going, many more ghost bike memorials are expected to be seen on the streets of London before it becomes a safer place for cyclists.
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