Published: 12 August 2011
by PETER GRUNER
A HEARTBROKEN father has called for improved safety on Islington roads after the death of the third cyclist this year.
Retired teacher Keith Harding said he did not blame anyone for the death of his son, Sam, 25, in a collision with a bus in Holloway Road on Saturday afternoon.
But he added that as a society we are encouraging more people to cycle while not providing sufficient safety.
“Something needs to be done for cycling,” he said. “It may be reducing the speed limit to 20mph or dedicated cycle lanes. But some of our roads are not designed for cyclists.”
Mr Harding joined up to 100 friends and cyclists on Wednesday evening at the spot where Sam was killed opposite the junction with Jackson Road.
Flowers were laid and prayers said at a tribute organised by Islington Cycling Action Group.
Sam, who worked for Angel-based online tourist firm, Voyage Privé, died under a single-decker 153 bus at about 1pm outside McDonald’s.
He is thought to have been trying to avoid a parked car with an open door immediately before the accident happened.
A 31-year-old motorist was arrested at the scene and has been bailed to return to a police station in December.
The former Highgate Wood pupil lived with his father in Crouch End and was on his way to move in with his girlfriend, Rachael Bonfiglioli, in Blackheath when the accident happened. Rachael works for the BBC languages department.
Sam’s mother Jenny died from breast cancer 12 years ago when he was 14. He will be buried beside her at Highgate Cemetery.
Mr Harding, a Blue Badge London Tour Guide, said his son was an experienced cyclist.
“I understand that the bus driver went to hospital with shock,” he said. “I don’t blame anyone for what happened. I’ve been a cyclist and I’ve been a driver. It is the sort of accident that can happen.
“But I do feel there is an issue about safety for cyclists on the road.
“Sam was a wonderful son with a great sense of humour. We’re obviously going to miss him.”
Sam wrote online travel articles for Voyage Privé and did web design. John Bevan, the firm’s managing director, issued a statement on behalf of colleagues Tenielle, Kelly, Marion, David and Chris.
It read: “After only knowing Sam since April, it has certainly felt much longer. He was truly a fantastic and easy-going guy filled with random remarks which had us in stitches constantly.
“He worked hard and was proud of his work. It was a pleasure having him part of our lives. He will be sorely missed by us all.”
In the other two cycling fatalities this year Dr Colin Hawkes, 64, a leading child protection expert, died in Carleton Road, Holloway, in January, and painter and decorator Gavin Taylor, 40, was killed in Wolsey Road, Newington Green, in April.
Holloway Road also claimed the life of cyclist Lisa Pontecorvo in 2008.
Chris Ashby, of Islington Cyclists Action Group, called for a 20mph speed limit to be extended from the borough’s smaller roads to all main roads. He added: “It’s desperately sad. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family.
“We don’t know who is to blame, but we always advise cyclists to stay well away from parked vehicles. Drivers just so often open their doors and it’s the most frequent cause of a collision.”
An inquest was opened and adjourned into Sam’s death on Monday. Detectives are appealing for witnesses to contact them on 020 8998 5319.
Sam’s funeral is being held at 1pm on Wednesday at the United Reformed Church, Pond Square, Highgate. Burial is at 2pm at Highgate Cemetery, in Swains Lane.
A celebration of Sam’s life will be held from 2.30pm onwards at The Pavilion, North Middlesex Cricket Club, in Park Road, Crouch End.
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