EXCLUSIVE: Oxford Street campaigner says Mayor’s decision to pedestrianise it is “massive victory” for road safety
Tom Kearney was left in a coma for two weeks after being hit by a bendy bus in Oxford Street in 2009. In an exclusive interview with Change.org, he speaks about why he has campaigned tirelessly for the road to be pedestrianised for more than two years.
Businessman, Tom Kearney, 51, was walking back to his place of work when he was struck by the No 73 bus just a week before Christmas 2009. He suffered severe brain trauma and punctured both his lungs after being flung 20 feet.
He said: ‘It was heaving with people and I was waiting on the kerb to cross when the bendy bus came along at least at 20mph. The mirror hit the back of my head and tossed me to the side. Then it hit me again and flung me forward. I think that saved my life or I would have gone under it.
‘The last thing I remember is seeing the green man on the traffic light and thinking I had promised my kids – who were seven and eleven at the time – that I’d be home in time to put them to bed and I was disappointed I wouldn’t make it.’
Tom says a 16-year-old boy rushed over, placed him in the recovery position and waited with him until an ambulance arrived.
He added: ‘The extent of my physical injuries was such that they did not expect me to live. Waking up from a coma is not like waking up from a sleep or a hangover. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s like dreaming while being awake.’
In March the following year Tom returned to work at Africa Commodities Group and started his petition on Change.org in 2012. The Mayor’s office has now said London’s busiest street in Europe will be pedestrianised by 2020. All traffic including buses and taxis will be banned from the shopping street – one of the most famous in the world – as part of Sadiq Khan’s plans to tackle air pollution.
He said: ‘You cannot have a safe bus system if you have Oxford Street because there’s no margin for error.
‘I had never campaigned before but had a lot of support from bus drivers, which was encouraging. This is a massive victory for my campaign. I want people who arrive and leave Oxford Street to feel safe.’
Tom lives in Hampstead London with his wife Lesia and sons Peter 17 and Daniel 13. He won a Sheila Mckechenie Foundation award for transport campaigning in April this year.
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