The open letter, co-signed by over 700 staff and students from 37 London academic institutions, including world-leading experts in urban planning, public health and sustainability, calls for mayoral candidates to pledge to stopping cyclist and pedestrian deaths caused by motor vehicles in London by 2028.  

The letter is signed by: 

  • 6 heads of universities and 10 heads of departments and research centres 
  • 15 student unions representing around 150,000 students
  • Staff and students, including world-leading experts in urban planning, public health and sustainability 

The letters also calls for “the candidates to pledge to bring forward the deadline from 2041 to 2032 for London’s Vision Zero”, the city’s plan to eliminate all deaths in its transport system. 

It states: “We are staff and students at London’s universities that recognise that safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists will save lives across the capital and reinforce its status as one of the world’s great cities. Over the last 10 years, at least seven London universities lost staff or students to collisions while cycling, many while commuting to or from their place of work or study.

“Around eight cyclists and 60 pedestrians die in London each year, and a further 2,000 are seriously injured. We have seen for ourselves the immense human cost of London’s unsafe streets. In 2023, two female staff members at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and a male Masters student at the London College of Contemporary Music tragically died while cycling in and around London.”

The letter lays out what is needed to avoid cycling deaths and injuries in the city, including improved infrastructure: “protected cycle lanes reduce the odds of injury by 40—65%, whereas (paint-only) advisory lanes increase injury odds by 34%. London’s junctions must also be urgently redesigned as they are where most serious and fatal collisions occur.”

The letter also mentions that “children, women and ethnic minorities are especially deterred by a lack of safe cycling infrastructure, with a recent survey finding that 90% of women respondents in London would start to cycle, or cycle more, if there were safer routes.”

Anthony Hamer-Hodges, Principal London College of Contemporary Music, said: 

As a university shaping the future potential of our students and society, witnessing a life cut short with so much promise is particularly tragic. 

“We urge the Mayoral candidates to take the necessary steps to prioritise cycling safety so that others don’t experience this grief and anguish.” 

Elizabeth Robinson, Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE, said: 

“London’s streets are still too dangerous for cyclists, and we need to see action. 

“Last year we were devastated when LSE lost two of our colleagues whilst cycling. They were taken from this world far too soon.

“I am calling on the next Mayor of London to prioritise cycling safety as a matter of urgent importance.” 

Anika Heckwolf, Policy Analyst at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE, said: 

“To keep cyclists safe and to enable more Londoners to enjoy the benefits of cycling, the next Mayor of London must make cycling safety in London a top priority. 

It is great that TFL already has a plan to eliminate cycling deaths but 2041 is far too late. We need to make cycling in London safe today.“

Institutional signatories

  • Liam Smeeth, Director, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Frances Corner, Warden at Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Professor Jenny Higham, Vice-Chancellor, St George’s, University of London
  • Anthony Hamer-Hodge, Principal, London College of Contemporary Music
  • Sir Anthony Finkelstein, President, City, University of London
  • Steve Dunn, Associate Dean Research and Enterprise, London South Bank University
  • Kristian Helin, Chief Executive, The Institute of Cancer Research
  • Elizabeth Robinson, Director, Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science 
  • Helen Jones, Global Director of Development, Philanthropy and Global Engagement, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Rachel Aldred, Director, Active Travel Academy, University of Westminster 
  • José Luis Fernández, Director, Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Ralf Toumi, Co-Director, Grantham Institute Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London
  • Philipp Rode, Executive Director, LSE Cities, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Harry Charrington, Head of School of Architecture and Cities, University of Westminster
  • Fu Liang Ng, Associate Dean for Environmental Sustainability, St George’s, University of London
  • Mark Hughes, Director of Estates & Facilities, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Diana Beech, CEO at London Higher
  • Dr Jack Olney, Executive Director, Centre for Health Economics & Policy Innovation, Imperial College London
  • Professor Frank Kelly, Director, NIHR Health Protection Unit in Environmental Hazards & Health
  • James Relf, General Secretary, Student Union of the London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Camille Boutrolle, Union President, Imperial College Union
  • Lexa Barbulescu, Daniela Commey, Minna Ellis, Alyshia Jack, Katwamba Mutale, Sophia Nasif; Sabbatical Officer Team, University of the Arts London Student Union
  • Hannah Hockin, President at Royal Holloway Students’ Union
  • Tiffany Qiu, Students’ Union President at the Royal Academy of Music
  • Ryan Lea, Director, Royal College of Art Students’ Union
  • William B Sarenden, Chairman & Welfare Lead for Birkbeck University Students’ Union
  • Reem Walid, Co-President, SOAS Students’ Union
  • Serena-Amani Al Jabbar, President at Queen Mary University of London Students’ Union
  • Mia Doona, Students’ Union President, Central Students’ Union
  • George Chaplin, Education President, St Mary’s University Student Union
  • Victoria Chwa, President, Goldsmiths Students’ Union
  • Ezrie Prideaux, Royal Veterinary College SU President
  • Eshan Sabesan, President Of Education, St George’s Students Union
  • Guildhall School of Music and Drama Student Union
  • LSE UCU Branch Committee 
  • Kingston UCU Branch Committee 
  • University of East London UCU Branch Committee 
  • Middlesex University UCU branch Executive Committee
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