Another Cyclist Dies

Stop Killing Cyclists were at Kensington & Chelsea Town Hall to hold a vigil and protest for the latest cyclist to be killed by a heavy goods vehicle on London roads. The woman was knocked from her bike at the junction at the north end of Chelsea Bridge, where 36 recorded accidents took place last year, but no improvements have been made.

Kensington & Chelsea Council have resolutely opposed schemes for safer cycling in London and have built not a single metre of protected cycle lane in the borough, despite being one of the richest boroughs in London – they even gave wealthier residents some of their council tax back. The 36 year-old woman who was killed at Chelsea Bridge was the second cyclist killed by a HGV in the borough this year.

They are also of course the council responsible for making the Grenfell fire almost inevitable – and ensuring that when it took place so many of those in the tower would die, by cutting costs and deliberately modifying the building and surroundings to increase risk as well as frustrating proper safety inspections. It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the wealthy councillors consider cyclists – and the residents of social housing – as some kind of inferior beings whose lives don’t much matter.

Usually Stop Killing Cyclists hold their vigils and die-ins on the road where cyclists are killed, blocking traffic for the duration of the die-in. Today was different, perhaps to emphasize that this was an accident largely down to the obstructive policy of Kensington & Chelsea Council towards providing safe cylcing infrastructure. The event took place on the large courtyard of the council offices, which are tucked away out of sight a few yards from the busy Kensington High St.

Fortunately the die-in happened fairly early in the event, while there was still a considerable amount of natural light at the end of a bright day, and my pictures of this are clear and the colour good. As at other die-ins, using the 16mm fish-eye enabled me to get a good overall impression. Even at full aperture the corners are almost pin sharp (they are softened slightly in the conversion to cylindrical perspective) and at f2.8 I was able to expose for 1/125 at ISO 2,200. It is a lens where there is relatively little point in stopping down – though for landscapes in good light I’d perhaps work at f5.6 – and depth of field is pretty incredible wide open.

Later it did get very dark in the courtyard, and I was working at ISO 6400 again with lenses at full aperture, though with the 28.0-200.0 mm this is only f3.5-5.6 depending on the focal length. The 18-35mm is only slightly faster at f3.5-4.5.

After the previous week’s problems with wandering fingers I kept a close eye on the aperture and shutter speed. This was a much easier event from that point of view with plenty of time and no rushing. But light was a problem, not mainly because there was so little of it, but because what there was was almost entirely a bright orange. It’s easy enough to vary the colour of the cast (and often hard to avoid) but impossible to remove it.

Cyclists Kensington Vigil & Die In


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