West Norwood cyclist’s road safety appeal

man in hospital
Darius Kravitz in hospital

A local resident who was seriously injured when cycling to work in West Norwood has issued a road safety warning ahead of an expected surge in commuting by bike.

His appeal comes on the day before Lambeth council’s planning committee considers an application that many believe will increase dangers for cyclists and other road users in the area.

Father-of-two Darius Kravitz was cycling down Knight’s Hill in September last year when a car turned across his path as the driver tried to enter a side road.

The accident happened not far from the proposed site of a metal recycling yard in West Norwood that local people and organisations including Royal Mail, Network Rail and Croydon council have warned will have an adverse effect on traffic and road safety.

Tomorrow (July 27) the planning committee will consider the application for a second time having failed to reach a conclusion after meeting for nearly four hours a fortnight ago.

Council officers told the committee that the planned site and its traffic would have little effect on cyclists as few of them use Norwood High Street, off which it would be sited. This road runs parallel to Knights Hill and only about 100 metres away.

Darius, 48, a West Norwood resident, suffered multiple life-changing injuries, including spinal and rib fractures, a fractured chest bone, a broken left leg as well as a fractured and dislocated right hip.

He spent around two months in King’s College Hospital, where he received life-saving treatment, before being transferred to the Pulross Centre in Brixton to continue his rehabilitation.

After the collision, Darius instructed solicitors Irwin Mitchell to help him access the specialist rehabilitation and therapies he requires.

His legal team has secured him a five-figure interim payment to help fund his ongoing rehabilitation.

Using these funds, Darius was able to secure specialist rehabilitation at The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital, enabling him to be discharged home earlier this year.

Darius, who with his wife Adrianna runs The Legends Barbershop which has branches in Holborn and the Strand, is now urging people to take care on the roads.

The driver involved in the collision pleaded guilty to a charge of driving without due care and attention, receiving six points on their licence a fine of £394 and court costs of £139.

A survey of 2,000 adults commissioned by Irwin Mitchell found that cycling rates are set to more than double because of the pandemic.

Peter Lorence, the expert serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Darius, said: “The last few months and how life has changed have been incredibly difficult for Darius and his family. Before the crash he was very active and independent, but is now reliant on others and has not yet been able to return to work.

“We will continue to support Darius and his family so he can make the best recovery possible.

“In the meantime we join him in urging people to take care on the roads.”

Darius’ business has won awards, including the Barber of the Year category at the 2019 London Hair and Beauty Awards.

Plans to expand the number of branches and the online business have been put on hold because of Darius’s injuries.

He said: “The crash is all a bit of a blur. One minute I was cycling to work and the next moment I remember being hit by the car and coming off my bike.

“Ever since then life has completely changed. I loved keeping fit and active and we threw everything into expanding our business. Now that has all changed.

“I’m unable to do things people take for granted, such as picking up my children, and am a lot more reliant on Adrianna. All our plans for the business are on hold while I try and recover.

“I’ve always been determined, and that determination is keeping me focused on making the best recovery I can.

“Getting back to work would be a huge boost and that is my number one aim.

“I just hope that by speaking out people realise the hurt and pain they can cause others and how important it is to take care on the roads.”

barber at work
Darius at work

Adrianna said: “Since the crash our lives have been turned upside down. We’re a strong family and a hard-working couple, but now we no longer feel safe. We live in constant insecurity of not knowing what’s going to happen next.

“The collision not just affected our family physically, but also emotionally, socially and financially from a business perspective.

“We can’t thank enough everyone for the help and support they have given our family since. We’re so grateful to all the emergency services, the medical staff and those who saw the collision and came to Darius’ help in the aftermath.”

The survey commissioned by Irwin Mitchell found people’s transport habits are expected to change as restrictions continue to be eased.

While only 6 per cent of GB adults said they cycled to work before the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, when asked which modes of transport commuters would use after lockdown this figure jumped to 13 per cent, making it the third most popular mode of transport behind personal car at 58 per cent and walking at 26 per cent.

The survey commissioned and released last summer found that, before Covid, personal car and walking at 39 per cent and 17 per cent respectively were the two most popular ways of getting to work.

Catching the bus was third at 11 per cent, followed by catching the overground train at 8 per cent and cycling at 6 per cent.

Following the first lockdown, 58 per cent and 26 per cent respectively of those who commuted to work before restrictions were introduced plan to use a personal car or walk, with 13 per cent planning to cycle.

The survey also found that there had been a 12 per cent increase in households taking up cycling during lockdown.

Almost a third (31 per cent) of 18–24-year-olds had taken up cycling, as had 30 per cent of students surveyed.

Of those questioned, just over one in four – 26 per cent – said they were likely to continue cycling post-Covid.

Too much traffic on the roads – 33 per cent – followed by a lack of designated and segregated cycle lanes – 21 per cent – were the biggest factors preventing people from cycling.

A personal lack of cycling experience put off 12 per cent, while 8 per cent said a lack of facilities in the workplace such as showers and changing rooms were also a barrier to cycling.

Peter Lorence saidd: “There are real benefits to cycling – both from a physical and mental health aspect – and we don’t want to put people off from getting on their bikes.

“With businesses hopefully continuing to reopen and employees commuting by bike and car, we need people to watch out for each other; to drive and ride sensibly, at the right speeds.

“Sadly, we see all too often the life-changing impact road injuries have on innocent individuals and their families.”