Gazette letters: Climate change, Thighs of Steel and Highbury Corner roundabout

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently launched ULEZ. Picture: PA IMAGES

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently launched ULEZ. Picture: PA IMAGES - Credit: Archant

I was pleased to see that the Committee on Climate Change has recently advised the government that its proposed ban on the sale of diesel and petrol cars should be brought forward, writes Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly Member for North East (Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest).

Under current plans it will come into force by 2040, but the Committee says it should happen at least a decade sooner.

This echoes the recommendations made last summer by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who is taking stringent action on dangerous emissions through the roll out of the Central London Ultra Low Emission Zone and electric bus and black cab fleets across the capital.

With air pollution contributing to the premature deaths of around 10,000 Londoners per year, alongside causing other serious health problems, the transition to electric vehicles on our roads cannot come soon enough.

However, to facilitate this shift, we need the necessary infrastructure to be put in place. This is why I am urging local people to nominate locations in the community for the installation of electric charging points through the PowerMyStreet website.

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We should also avoid using cars wherever possible. The mayor's Transport Strategy is promoting a 'Healthy Streets' approach, which aims for 80 per cent of journeys in London to be made on foot, by bicycle or on public transport by 2031.

This summer, for the fourth year running, Thighs of Steel cyclists will be riding in relay from London to Athens in a bid to raise at least £50,000 for grassroots refugee projects, writes Olivia Kasteel-Hare.

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Cyclists will again spend the first night of the whole trip in St Peter's Church in De Beauvoir, Hackney. The church have kindly let the cyclists and their bikes stay in the crypt for their first night.

And during May there is a £75 discount to fill the last few spaces and maximise fundraising.

Setting off on July 6, 10 teams of completely ordinary cyclists will take on distances of up to 750km horizontally and 15km vertically in a week, testing their thighs against hardcore Alpine climbs, the blistering summer heat, and quite possibly the brown bears of Albania.

Over the course of 10 weeks, the ride winds through multiple countries, covering more than 6,000km and climbing around 100,000 metres, across three of Europe's mountain ranges.

2017 Thighs of Steel cyclist Iona Shaw was left exhilarated saying: "At the end I was bruised, burnt, and absolutely beaming from ear to ear!"

This year Thighs of Steel is steelier than ever after the organisers added what they call "a tiny little detour" of three weeks and 1,500km so they can climb the Pyrenees.

The three-week extension means 33 more cyclists can take part in the ride, which translates into at least £16,500 more to support refugees.

With a minimum fundraising ask of £500 per cyclist, the three rides since 2016 have raised nearly a quarter of a million pounds for refugees in Europe. This achievement is because the participants go above and beyond the minimum target, raising up to £6,000. Every cyclist does the best they can, running events, parties and raffles to raise money. Together this amounts to life changing figures.

Organisers have had experience working on the ground in refugee support centres so know the importance of funding with minimal bureaucracy and red tape.

Thighs of Steel founder Harri Symes said: "With Thighs of Steel we deliberately fundraise for the harder-to-fund boring stuff. We'll pay for things like rent and bills so that a refugee project can keep their doors open and the lights on. It's not sexy and it doesn't make for a great press photo, but it's vitally important."

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I see that in several local newspapers, the people who decided that Highbury Corner roundabout was "allegedly" dangerous for pedestrians because of all the nasty road traffic thought that by putting it back to a new layout would improve matters, writes Mr J E Kirby, Clissold Crescent, Stoke Newington.

I'm sorry to say that it appears to be far from safer for pedestrians. This week for instance, I was trying to cross St Paul's Road on the new controlled crossing adjacent to the pub on the corner of St Paul's Road, the pedestrian lights were green but traffic from Holloway Road was still going across the crossing.

Also, there seems to be a never ending tailback along St Paul's Road from the Highbury corner back at times way past Highbury Grove at most times of the day and also in the evening. It has been almost back to the bend in the road before you get to Harecourt Road. Improvement? Pull the other one.

Also, why do we have to keep on having road works in Highbury Grove Park between Highbury Barn and Grosvenor Road? It seems as though as soon as one lot is finished then about two weeks or so later another lot start.

If it isn't the road being dug up then it is the pavement being ripped up and pedestrians forced into the road with barriers causing traffic lights to be for alternate working.

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