A lawyer described by her family as a “truly kind soul” has become the eighth cyclist to be killed on or near a notoriously dangerous gyratory in central London since 2008.
Shatha Ali died after a collision involving a lorry near Holborn station on Tuesday morning as she battled her way through commuter traffic at the height of the tube strike.
The death of Ali, 39, has put the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, under intense pressure to do more to protect cyclists on the multilane road, one of the capital’s busiest cycling commuting corridors. Plans by Transport for London (TfL) to introduce safety improvements at the gyratory were postponed after the transport body ran out of funds.
Ali’s father, Hasan Ali, said: “She was extremely generous and contributed to many, many charities. She had very good, close friends.
“She was everybody’s ‘go to’ person. We always depended on her. She travelled to so many places. Last weekend she was hiking with her sister.”
The former corporate city lawyer was a “social cyclist”, her family said, who knew London’s roads well, but the type of cyclist who would have ridden in jeans and a jumper rather than Lycra.
Ali graduated with a law degree from King’s College London in 2003. She obtained her postgraduate law degree from BPP Law School a year later.
Ali worked for Norton and Rose, now the international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, before moving to Latham & Watkins in about 2012-13, where she was part of their corporate department as an expert on derivatives and Islamic finance. She rose to become a partner but left last summer to take a career break.
She had a younger brother and sister and lived in Rotherhithe, south-east London.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, her family said that despite a highly successful career, Ali had many interests outside of work. “She did very well, extremely well, at work, but that was not the focus of her life,” they said.
Dr Ala’a al Shehabi, a childhood friend of Ali’s and a lecturer at University College London, tweeted: “Shatha should not have died in this horrific way.”
“Absolutely devastated to hear the tragic news that my childhood friend Shatha Ali was killed in a horrific accident by a lorry last night in the notorious Holborn junction,” she added. “@SadiqKhan why haven’t you done anything to protect cyclists there?”
Keera Mesh, another childhood friend, tweeted: “She was honestly the kindest person.”
Last September, a left-turning lorry at the same gyratory claimed the life of the consultant paediatrician Dr Marta Krawiec, who was 41. Krawiec had been cycling to work at St Thomas’ hospital at the time. She had started commuting by bike at the start of the pandemic to ensure she could continue to see her patients and to “selflessly” keep space on the tube and buses free for other NHS workers.
London Cycling Campaign (LCC), which is demanding safety improvements, is planning a vigil for 6pm on Friday.
Simon Munk, the campaigns manager at LCC, said: “Just months from our last protest at Holborn, following the death of Dr Marta Krawiec, we are forced to return to this area and to junctions known for decades to be lethally dangerous to those walking and cycling, but where year after year nothing is done.”