Islington in the Dark

Another cyclist dies, killed on a main road on his way to work when a van drove into him on a mandatory cycle lane.  Roads like the Pentonville Rd need protected cycle paths, and Islington has not built a single protected cycle route in over 20 years.

Vigil for Islington cyclist killed by HGV

It really is time to get moving on better facilities for cyclists, which would not only stop deaths like this, but also encourage more people to get on their bikes for some healthy exercise, at the same time helping to reduce London’s terrible levels of air pollution and reduce congestion.  Everybody wins from getting more people to cycle safely on our roads – even those black cab drivers who lobby against it.

And of course long past time when vehicles designed with highly restricted driver vision were allowed to be built and to drive on our roads. Better mirrors and, where necessary built-in CCTV, would prevent these deaths.  It wouldn’t be difficult to improve vehicle design and not very expensive to make them safe.

But we continue to suffer from years of a failure to invest properly in facilities for cyclists – and we all suffer, whether pedestrians, cyclists or motorists. Stop Killing Cyclists are doing a great job in bringing the issues to greater attention through events such as these, and through the detailed studies that they and others associated with them make to lobby the London Mayor, Transport for London and others.

As usual there were a series of speeches followed by a die-in, with police holding up traffic to allow this short protest to take place. Police do seem to have developed a greater appreciation of the problems faced by cyclists now that a number of them patrol on push bikes.

I’d like to see our driving tests have a cycling proficiency test as a prerequisite – with those medically certified as unable to ride a bicycle or tricycle being allowed to qualify in some kind of virtual reality.  Back many years when I rode in France, driver behaviour towards cyclists seemed so much better, perhaps because many more French drivers had cycling experience.  Not only might it improve attitudes towards cyclists, but I think would be a safer and cheaper way of learning how to use our roads sensibly. But this is probably one of those common sense ideas that is totally impracticable.

The protest took place outside Islington Town Hall, not far from where the death occurred.  I don’t think it is sensible to call any of these deaths accidents when there are so many reasons why they happen.

It’s surprising how dark it can be just a few yards from a major road in London. I struggled with light levels  as you can see in the pictures. For some I used the LED light, but most relied on whatever ambient there was, with just a couple where flash seemed the only possibility. Particularly when photographing candle-lit vigils like this it’s important to try and retain the feeling of the lighting, but candles seldom really give quite enough light, especially if there is any movement.

Candle flames are also pretty bright in themselves, and an exposure which retains detail in them often is just too underexposed over most of the frame. The D750 and D810 do a pretty good job, but it isn’t always possible or entirely predictable, and the preview on the camera back doesn’t work quite well enough to let you know which highlights can be recovered in Lightroom.

Colour temperature is also a problem, and I should have remembered to use the amber filter on the LED, which is roughly daylight balanced, to bring it closer to the candles. It doesn’t matter too much what white balance you set the camera to when working in RAW files, as this can be adjusted later. I think I had the D810 set on Auto WB and the D750 on ‘Tungsten’  and can see no real difference in the adjusted images.

Vigil for Islington cyclist killed by HGV


On my way back to the station I stopped to talk with a friend outside the squatted bank and was invited in and took a few pictures.

Groups like this are important both in bringing attention to homelessness when we have so many empty buildings, and also providing at least short term shelter to a few of the homeless. It would make sense to change laws on empty properties to persuade their owners bring them back into use, or allow councils to compulsory purchase them.

ORAL Squat empty NatWest Bank


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