Oxford Street battle by Dad who cheated death

A Hampstead businessman and a leading London Assembly member have joined forces in a battle to make Oxford Street safer.

Tom Kearney, 45, has launched a campaign to make the capital’s busiest shopping road more pedestrian friendly after he was almost killed by a bus while crossing there in 2009.

The former chief executive of the Africa Commodities Group has been backed in his quest by Assembly Member Victoria Borwick, who stood as a Conservative mayoral candidate against Boris Johnson.

Last year Ms Borwick headed up an investigation into congestion in central London, and found that 300 buses an hour were passing along Oxford Street during peak hours, along with 100,000 pedestrians.

It was also revealed that in 2008 between 20 and 25 people were killed or seriously injured, with two thirds of all collisions involving a pedestrian.

And in 2010 there was one fatality and 16 major incidents – which are classified as such when a person is taken to hospital.

Both Ms Borwick and Mr Kearney are now calling for a dramatic reduction in the number of buses allowed to drive through Oxford Street at any one time.

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“Buses are dangerous instruments and they are killing people,” Mr Kearney said.

“People are dying for no reason. With that many buses and that many people – someone’s bound to get killed.”

Ms Borwick added: “When we did our investigation there were up to 300 buses an hour on Oxford Street. So if we halved that number it would be fantastic.”

She is now lobbying Transport for London to look at solutions to the congestion problem including the introduction of a shuttle bus

“We would like to reduce the buses on Oxford Street further and replace them with a shuttle bus paid for by shopkeepers,” she explained.

“Obviously there would have to be some buses but we would turn buses around at Marble Arch.”

Recalling his shocking accident on December 18, 2009 – the last shopping weekend before Christmas – Mr Kearney admits that he is lucky to be alive.

After being hit by a bendy bus as he attempted to cross Oxford Street outside John Lewis he was left with a severe head trauma, which left him for dead and later caused him to slip into a two-week coma.

Describing his injuries, he said: “My left lung exploded on impact. The right lung was pierced by my ribs. I was thrown 20 feet and had a back of skull injury which led to swelling. When my body was found by paramedics I had no pulse – I was cold.”

But the father-of-two said his experience is far from unique and wants the families who have lost relatives in similar circumstances to contact him through Facebook.

Mr Kearney is also still looking for answers from Transport for London and the Met Police, who he says have tried to lay the blame for the accident at his door rather than with the bus driver.

He claims their inquiries were seriously flawed due to the ‘disappearance’ of vital CCTV footage and the fact that no effort was made to interview him directly.

He made a complaint through the Independent Police Complaints Commission last month, but it has since been rejected. He is now planning to appeal.

A spokesman for TfL said: “Oxford Street is one of the country’s most significant destinations for bus passengers.

“We are working with our partners, including Westminster Council, NWEC and local businesses, to balance the needs of our passengers, other road users, pedestrians and this world famous shopping venue.

“In 2009 we reduced the number of buses on the busiest section of Oxford Street by 10 per cent; a further 10 per cent reduction was delivered in 2010.”