We are calling on the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea to urgently tackle its dangerous roads. Not only do they have some of the worst rates of road deaths and injuries anywhere in London, but the sense of danger on our hostile streets discourages people from travelling in an active healthy way – especially children, the elderly and other vulnerable people. Excluding the City of London and Westminster, with their very high daily visitor numbers, RBKC is consistently the worst London borough for road casualties.
This terrible casualty rate is no coincidence in a borough with traffic-heavy roads and not enough protection or priority for those walking and cycling. In fact, RBKC council has delayed, blocked and even removed road safety schemes over the years, while other boroughs have taken bold steps to make their roads safer.
These preventable deaths and injuries are unacceptable. Residents deserve better! Better Streets for Kensington & Chelsea are calling on the council to commit to our five asks to end road danger and create safe and thriving streets for people.
Not just numbers. Real people.
These are not just statistics. Some of them are people who set off on a journey, healthy and well, and never came home. Others were left with life-changing injuries, such as a leg amputation.
Many of these tragedies were avoidable and preventable, if only our roads had been made safer. We need the council to act before the next tragedy.
The council has committed to the Mayor’s ‘Vision Zero’ – a goal of no serious injuries or deaths on roads by 2041. That seems a long time to wait for safer streets, RBKC isn’t acting fast enough to achieve even that target. While casualty numbers are slowly declining, as they are across London, in 2019 RBKC had 113 deaths and serious injuries – 13 more than its 2019 target of 100. The council has a duty to act faster to keep people safe. Please call on them to commit to our five asks to end road danger.
Road danger prevents all-age walking & cycling
There’s another, invisible, harm from dangerous roads – the perception of danger puts people in RBKC off active travel, especially cycling, as this council report shows (page 18). Women are even less likely to cycle than men when there is no safe space separated from traffic, and children have lost the freedom to travel independently to school or to see friends.
RBKC transport survey 2018
In fact, the fall in numbers of people injured and killed may be partly because fewer children walk or cycle to school and fewer people are travelling actively in general. The council can’t ‘encourage’ people to travel in a healthy, sustainable way if their roads are too frightening to walk or cycle on.
The council has delayed, blocked and removed safety schemes
Eilidh Cairns, left, with her sister Kate. Eildh was killed while cycling on Notting Hill Gate in 2009
“It is disappointing, shocking and irresponsible that (RBKC) has withdrawn support for a scheme which, had it been in place, would surely have prevented the death of my sister”
-Kate Cairns quoted in 2019
RBKC council must stop opposing road safety schemes if it is to take road danger, and the lives of its residents seriously.
- RBKC rejected the Transport for London walking & cycling scheme on Holland Park Avenue and Notting Hill Gate in 2019, which would have provided several new pedestrian crossings and protected cycle tracks. These two roads had seen 275 collisions in the previous three years, with the vast majority of serious injuries being to pedestrians and cyclists.
- RBKC also effectively vetoed Transport for London plans to make walking and cycling safer on the deadly Chelsea Embankment as recently as 2020, and as long ago as 2002. Our web page shows the high number of collisions on this road, where tragically Jack Ryan was killed in 2020 and Charlotte Landi in 2017.
- RBKC removed protected bike lanes from High Street Kensington in 2020 only seven weeks into a trial. Yet council officers report that it has the highest level of injuries of any road in the borough. One data source, Crashmap, shows that just one part of it has had 134 serious or fatal incidents since 2000. Read more about our High Street Kensington campaign here.
We need a council who will commit to putting safety first on our roads and be bold about walking and cycling infrastructure.
Our asks to end road danger
As Better Streets for Kensington & Chelsea, we believe that our five asks of the council (especially the first four) would make our streets safer for everyone. These actions would prevent more tragedies and also enable people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to walk, cycle, wheel and scoot local journeys.
- Make junctions safe: Provide pedestrian signals at all signalised junctions and work with TfL to fix the most dangerous junctions in the borough
- Make cycling safe: Create a safe borough-wide cycle network so that people of all ages and abilities can make their journeys safely by bike
- Make neighbourhood streets safe: Remove through traffic from residential streets by creating low traffic neighbourhoods for all residential areas in the borough
- Make high streets safe: Create people-friendly high streets where walking, cycling and spending time are safe and attractive
Read the asks in more detail here.
Zero deaths and injuries are possible!
A street in Oslo. Credit: Erik Skarstein on Unsplash
Vision Zero is the Mayor of London’s target to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from London’s roads by 2041. It is inspired by other cities like Oslo, Norway, which achieved its goal of zero walking and cycling casualties in 2019.
Oslo focused on reducing traffic dominance, creating streets for people that were safe and pleasant places to walk, cycle and spend time. Despite some expected opposition to measures such as removing parking spaces and restricting traffic in the centre, the city successfully achieved support from the majority, businesses prospered in more welcoming spaces and the casualty statistics speak for themselves.
If it cares about residents’ lives and wellbeing, the Royal Borough needs to have a similar bold vision for reducing motor traffic and danger that both manages opposition and harnesses support.
Who’s responsible for the roads in Kensington & Chelsea – the council or Transport for London?
Most of the roads are managed by the borough, with the exception of a few major, strategic roads which are managed by TfL, such as Westway, Chelsea Embankment and the A4 – the full list is here. Some of those killed or seriously injured were in collisions on TfL roads. However, RBKC council has a responsibility to work with TfL to make the roads in its borough safe – yet sometimes does the reverse, such as vetoing vital safety schemes for walking and cycling on Chelsea Embankment.
To tackle road danger, don’t we need to stop people cycling on the pavement?
It can be intimidating for pedestrians when people cycle on the pavement, but a motor vehicle has far more power to cause harm than a bicycle given its greater weight and capacity for speed. Of all the people recorded as seriously injured or killed in collisions in the borough, and there are well over 100 every year, none so far have been caused by people on bicycles but only by people driving motor vehicles. The best way to reduce pavement cycling is to create protected space for cycling on the road, where people will feel safe enough to cycle.
What sources did you use to find data about RBKC’s road casualties?
These figures are all publicly available on Transport for London’s Road Danger Reduction Dashboard.