Lisa Pontecorvo: a sad loss

I’d heard that there had been a horrific crash on Holloway Road, with a cyclist killed. Now I’ve just heard that the cyclist was Lisa Pontecorvo.

This is sad and shocking news. Lisa is a unique and irreplaceable person. She has always taken a lively interest in the area, and in the process, become something of a local treasure herself. I can’t believe we won’t see her, or hear from her, again. Or that she finally met an opponent she couldn’t defeat.

I’ve known Lisa for over a decade, ever since we were neighbours in Barnsbury, and even though we were in different political parties, we always got on well. We used to sit through long evenings at the local planning forum and similar events, Lisa had a deep knowledge of the local environment, a deep passion for protecting it, and expressed it in forthright terms!

Lisa was a good friend with a kind heart; people soon learned that her sweet nature and sometimes slightly eccentric air were matched with an iron commitment to her causes. She led the rescue and transformation of Edward Square – that’s just one result of her determined approach.

While Edward Square will be Lisa’s legacy, I’m sure her many friends will want to see a personal memorial to her. Maybe in Thornhill Square, or Edward Square itself.

She will be very sadly missed.

Lisa was an experienced cyclist, in fact rarely seen without her bike, and knew Islington’s roads well. I hope that the full accident report will come through quickly, and both TfL and the Council make sure any recommended changes to the junction where she died are made asap. That’s not the tribute we wanted to pay Lisa, but it may be a necessary one.

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37 Comments »

  1. Mike said

    A very very sad event. The blue tent around the scene set a very sombre mood.
    Something needs to be done now to keep cyclists and motor vehicles away from each other. All trucks need to be banned from the roads or only allowed to use them in the early hours. The victims in Holloway road this year alone is appauling and I guess not all of them are reported as the council will likely have to do something expensive to remedy it.

    R.I.P old girl, didn’t know you but you were well liked.

  2. Ralph said

    very very sad…i was there at around 7.30 on my bike and couldn’t believe some other cyclist was killed! Really the road planners need to make tough decisions. The roads are rubbish for cyclists…the inside lane is invariably pot holed. The bus lanes are inconsistent. The lorries and those ridiculous bendy buses are crazy.

    Drivers edge into the road without any regard to cyclists and my favorite is when a car travelling in the same direction ahead of you decides to let another car into the road from the left…and again, there is scant regard for the cyclist with the right of way…

    They need to come up with a radicle solution. Something that will make the roads safer for cyclists and encourage more people to cycle to work, school etc… maybe banning cars from main routes for part or the rush hour would work…on say one or two days a week…

    Is anyone organising a cycling protest? Thats what we should do…

    R

  3. chris kelly said

    My girlfriend saw it happen and went to comfort her. We are trying to locate her family so she can send flowers and a letter. She is really gutted as bout what happened and was there to comfort the lady as best she good in the last moments. So very sad. London needs to really take action on the lorry situation. Its getting awful.

  4. bridgetfox said

    Thank you for your comments.

    Chris – Lisa did not have immediate family but as soon as I have details on contacts, funeral arrangements etc I will post them.

    There may also be information at http://www.kingscrossenvironment.com/2008/09/lisa-pontecorvo.html

    Your girlfriend did a good thing, Lisa was well-loved and it’s good to know she was not alone at the end.

  5. Pixie said

    I’m from the North London Buddhist Centre, which is just opposite from where your friend sadly lost her life. One of our members rang for the police and ambulance.
    We are all very saddened by this event. Yesterday members of the centre team held a puja within the centre for Lisa. We then went across the road to leave an offering of flowers.

    Sincere condolences to all

  6. David John said

    I worked for 12 years as Islington’s Buildings at Risk Officer within the Planning Department. I got to know Lisa through my work and am shocked to hear the sad news. Lisa did a huge amount for the area and was a really genuine and committed person. I’m sure she will be remembered for the campaigns she was involved in, and this will be her memorial. I was moved to hear of the help she received at the scene of the accident. I will personally remember Lisa with fondness.

  7. Paul Zaphiriou said

    I am the Vicar of St Mary Magdalene church; there was a meeting in the church that evening and we said prayers for Lisa and her family and friends – and for the truck driver. Very, very sad indeed. Paul.

  8. Jacqui Maroni said

    Sincere thanks to you all for the wonderful tributes and kind words about cousin Lisa. She would have been very touched. Thanks too for going to help her at the time of the dreadful accident – it’s a great comfort.

    Amidst the total shock of what happened, we (aunt and cousins) are trying to arrange a fitting farewell to her and will let people know as soon as possible. Can anyone suggest the best places to post the details?

    Jacqui

  9. Jenny Gregory said

    Dear Jacqui

    I am the girl who was with Lisa just after the accident until the ambulence crew arrived. Another man, a motor cyclist was with me too. I am so so very sorry about what happened – it is devastating. I work for Islington Council and many of my colleagues knew her and worked with her. I would be happy to post details around the Council for you. You can send any information to my personal email jenny_gregory181174@yahoo.co.uk. There is also another website http://www.kingscrossenvironment.com/2008/09/lisa-pontecorvo.html where many people have left their tributes to Lisa and are asking for more details. It has been a comfort for me the last couple of days to read about Lisa and her life – am so sorry this had to happen.

    Jenny

  10. Oliver y Sofia Craxton said

    We cannot believe what has happened, Lisa as everybody would agree was such an energetic and supportive person, incredibly intelligent and interested in life. Being a cyclist and having known Lisa it makes it so much worse that such terrible accidents can happen in our streets. As someone said earlier a campaign (Lisa’s style) is required to do something so that pedestrians, cyclists, taxis, cars and lorries can travel in some kind of harmony. A loss like this one should not have happened -whether it was Lisa or anybody else, this should not happen!

  11. Alastair Murray said

    Lisa will be missed by so many people, and our loss is harder because it was preventable. What a terrible tragedy.
    Along with others I posted some thoughts on the Kings Cross Local Environment Board (as noted by Bridget and others above, thanks).
    But I am comforted to have come here and read the posts from Lisa’s aunt Jacqui, and Jenny who was there when Lisa was knocked down, and the good people from St. Mary Mags and the Buddhist Centre.

  12. Jessica Redfern said

    I have been a personal friend of Lisa since 1976 or so and we have shared many outings over the years. I also knew her father and many of her friends. The last time I saw her was at an Edward Square day and afterwards we went to a nice restaurant to compare news and ideas. When I heard of this terrible accident two days ago I haven’t been able to get her, or it, out of my mind. She was the most caring and generous person I can think of and I feel her loss deeply. I was going to invite her to my place for a meal in October to hear about her holidays and I am very shocked it will not be and I can no longer ring her up for a chat. Yes, I agree with the others who say that she was a marvellous person and an exceptional friend.

    Dear Lisa, I send you my love and wish you a wonderful welcome where you are now. Jessica

  13. Jazz said

    Just wanted to send my deepest thoughts to all her family and the people who knew her as a friend and a colleage. I was one of the first person on the scene as i was in the opposite lane next to the cylce surgery when it happened, and was with her till the motor cyclist arrived, and i hope i did what i could to make her feel comforted, i gave a full statement to the police, i hope this will go some way to changing holloway road for cyclists. RIP lisa Pontecorva x x

  14. Nadja said

    I am deeply saddened and shaken by this terrible tragedy!

    A cyclist myself I passed the accident at 5.45pm to pick my 2 year old daughter up ( who cycles with me on my bike since she was 12 months old)… that day we walked….

    London should take countries such as Germany & Hollland as examples for better practice in the provisions for cyclist (how can TFL promote cycling to work yet doing so little to improve safety!).

    I hope that this terrible accident will bring change and as said in an earlier post i hope a campaign will start that will result in ‘pedestrians, cyclists, taxis, cars and lorries to travel in harmony’. When is the cycling protest? Maybe info could be posted here or at cycle surgery? I am so very sorry this had to happen!

  15. bridgetfox said

    Just to confirm, information on Lisa’s funeral etc are to be found at

    http://www.kingscrossenvironment.com/2008/09/lisa-pontecorvo.html

    with a private family funeral soon and a memorial event to follow later in the year.

  16. Lisa Tang on behalf of Chris Ashby said

    Hello Folks,

    ICAG has arranged a simple memorial to Lisa Ponticorvo, the cyclist who was
    tragically killed on Holloway Road on Monday afternoon 8th September, about
    which there have been earlier posts on this list.

    You are invited to meet on the corner of Fieldway Crescent and Holloway Road
    outside the Central Library on Monday 15th September from 5.15pm. Flowers
    will be placed and we plan to hold a minutes silence in memory of Lisa at
    5.35pm, exactly one week after the fatal crash.

    All are welcome, not just ICAG members and other cyclists. The local press
    have been informed. Please pass this invitation on. Thank you.

    Cycle Safely.

    Chris Ashby.
    (On behalf of ICAG)

  17. Gregory Pontecorvo said

    I was deeply saddened to hear of Lisa’s death. I am her cousin, and although we didn’t see each other often, I remember each visit fondly. Her joie de vivre and sense of humor are memorable. I live in Seattle, WA, USA, where I bike to work each day about 20K round trip. Although Seattle has a good reputation as fairly bike-friendly, I hope we can learn from this tragedy to increase awareness of bike safety for all.
    I send my condolences to all who knew her, and especially to the “British branch” of the Pontecorvo family including Anna Newton and the Maroni family.

  18. Françoise de Turckheim said

    <je suis bouleversée : j’ai vu Lisa presque chaque joiur pendant tout l’été.Elle veillait sur moi comme si elle était l’un de mes enfants.Elle faisait d’ailleurs partie de toutes nos réunions de famille et nous avions déjà parlé de celles du procain Noël
    Elle était unique ,Elle m’a accompagnée et surtout entraînée dans tant de promenades en montagne que je ne peux imaginer ce que je ferai sans ellel
    Les cendres de ses parents sont déposées au crématorium de StLuc (Valais SuisseJe suis sùre qu’elle désirait les rejoindre là et je crois qu’elle a laissé dans son testament des instructiàons.. Je pense à sa tante Henrielle dont elle s’occupait beaucoup et à touc ceux qui l’aimaient .

  19. Hortense de Turckheim said

    Lisa faisait partie du paysage de Saint Luc, notre petit havre de paix en Suisse. Toujours en train de se promener à droite à gauche, avec un petit mot pour ceux qu’elle croisait…
    Elle va nous manquer…

  20. bridgetfox said

    More on the safety issues at that junction:

    http://islington-libdems.org.uk/news/001341/tfl_must_act_urgently_on_holloway_road_danger_junction.html

  21. "Albert Street" Laeken said

    It’s with infinite sadness that we received the news of the death of Lisa. We met her in London during an informative visit at Camley Street and Culpeper. Her information was the real inspiration for our project. Later she came to Brussels to share her experience and to help us set up our “Albert Street” Pedagogic garden. She was the initiator of the twining of “Albert Street” with “Camley Street”. In the few years we have known her we have learned to appreciate her friendliness, her tireless energy, her determination, her humour.
    André, Cécile, Chantal, Claude, Edouard, Frédéric, Jojo, Jean Louis, Martine, Nicole, René.

  22. "Albert Street" Laeken said

    C’est avec une infinie émotion que nous avons appris le décès brutal de notre chère amie Lisa.
    Nous avions appris à la connaître à Bruxelles, serrés autour d’une table, lorsque nous avons démarré notre projet de « Bruxelles, Ville-Région en Santé » en 2004. Lisa était venue spécialement de Londres pour nous aider dans cette tâche, en apportant des réponses à nos nombreuses questions. Personne ressource, elle nous a transmis les expériences de participation citoyenne dans la construction et la gestion de certains parcs à Londres.
    Elle nous a également guidés à Londres lorsque nous sommes allés visiter différents parcs et jardins et elle nous a également fait l’honneur en 2007 d’être présente à l’inauguration de notre jardin pédagogique « Albert Street » à Bruxelles, pour représenter nos amis de « Camley Street » parc avec lequel nous avons scellé un jumelage.
    Nous avons eu à maintes reprises l’occasion d’apprécier chez Lisa sa réflexion, sa vivacité d’esprit, son humour et sa détermination dans ce qu’elle entreprenait. Elle a été pour nous une étincelle formidable dans notre projet. Nous garderons pour elle toute notre reconnaissance et notre amitié.
    André, Cécile, Chantal, Claude, Edouard, Frédéric, Jojo, Jean Louis, Martine, Nicole, René.

  23. beverly griffin said

    I know the Holloway Road, and via her father, a close colleague, got to know Lisa, molti anni fa. Maybe it will take a tragedy of this magnitude, and of a kind and celebrated person like Lisa, to wake up the authorities to the needs of the community who use that road. Let us hope her death has not been in vain.
    And, Dear Lisa, we will continue to have our November birthday parties first in honour of, then in memory of, your father. We will greatly regret your absence, but you will join your father in our memories.
    Fondly, Beverly

  24. Jane and Caroline Blunden said

    We are deeply shocked to hear from Francis in the early hours of the morning of Saturday 13th Sept -here in Ireland on a building site without computer – the shocking news of Lisa’s death. It is a huge loss to all of us who knew her and admired all she did in her life for others — both in the public sphere and in private. She was a big personality and a modest person of heroic stature …..

    Dearest Lisa – we shall miss you terribly and will plant a tree here in Ireland in your memory …. like others we were waiting to catch up with your news in October where back in London …… Memories of times spent with you and Ponte are precious and unforgettable …. we made so many friends through you and we shall try to carry on the Pontecorvo way of doing things into the future …. with love Jane and Caroline Blunden (The Irish twins)

  25. Anneliese Hollmann & Bernard Muller said

    The news of Lisa’s accident reached us here at Chandolin (Valais, Switzerland) only yesterday. We are deeply saddened by the loss of this true and irreplaceable friend whose kindness and valour we shall always remember.

    “Le vrai tombeau des morts,
    c’est le coeur des vivants.”
    Jean Cocteau

    R.I.P. dearest Lisa –

    Anneliese and Bernard

  26. Billy Dyet said

    My thoughts are with all that knew Lisa and the lorry driver. She was clearly a much loved person.
    I witnessed the horrific incident as I was driving right behind the cement mixer lorry. I still can’t get the images out of my head. It was horrible. Apart from myself there was a man and woman close by so she was not alone. Between us we did all that could be done. I called for an ambulance but she was just too badly injured to have any chance of survival. If it is any consolation she didn’t suffer. It was over for her very quickly and I don’t think she saw it coming.

  27. Famille Kaufmann Chardon said

    Aurevoir Lisa.

    Merci Lisa d’avoir laissé à St-Luc un souvenir impérissable. Lisa vous étiez une vraie Figure de notre village. Vos prommenade et vos “commentaires” avec notre voisine commune Françoise faisaient parties des petits événements de notre village. Vos prise de position et la défense du bien auprès de toutes les autorités, votre franc parler et penser vont me manquer.
    Que le paradis des Alpes vous accueil et qu’il enchante votre coeur comme St-Luc l’a fait.
    Adieu Lisa, vous me manquez déjà.
    Pierre-Alain Kaufmann et famille

  28. assia said

    lisa, we will miss you so
    in Saint Luc and here where you spent your 64th birthday
    our wanderings

    a toi

  29. Robin and Margaret Weiss said

    Like everyone, we were shocked to learn the appalling news about Lisa. We attended the informal ceremony one week later at the site of the accident, and the number of friends who came from all walks of her life showed the appreciation we all felt for her.

    We have known Lisa as a good friend over many years, initially through her father, Ponte as we called him. We enjoyed Lisa’s hospitality in Thornhill Square and at St Luc. We loved her humour, her indomitable spirit and the enthusiasm and effectiveness for the causes she championed. We shall always cherish memories of cheerful Lisa.

  30. Purnôde Nicole said

    Lisa,

    Tu aimais beaucoup ce texte et les paroles qui sont de circonstance
    « J’ai un petit vélo qui tourne dans ma tête
    et qui ne veut jamais jamais s’arrêter
    il est peint en joie comme un jour de fête
    et il veut toujours, toujours m’emmener.
    C’est un petit vélo qui est toujours en fête
    et lorsque je veux partir me promener
    je ferme les yeux, je penche la tête
    et le petit vélo se met à tourner. » Jean Bériac
    Tu me manqueras énormément
    Tu as quitté ce monde en militant comme tu as vécu, en pédalant…

  31. Isobel Johnstone said

    My sister and I were another set of twins in Lisa’s life, having met her aged 5 at Hillhead Primary in Glasgow. We loved visiting her and her parents at their garden flat off Gt. Western Road, happy days of sunshine and waffle biscuits made by Lenie. Once forged, the friendship lasted in spite of our paths diverging. She went to a smarter school along the road after a bit but social snobbery was alien to Lisa, who believed in real values. To two wee Scottish lassies, Lisa was an exotic and passionate creature, whom we nonetheless felt needed our protection. She introduced us to her cousins, the Ichino/Pellizzis in Italy, and I have had a special bond with that country ever since, though Lisa’s own foreign territory was the path through France, via her Aunt, Henriette Niepce’s vineyard, and her beloved Valais. The chalet there was called ‘Le Chardon’ (The Thistle ), a tribute to the country where Guido and Lenie had found refuge and a home after leaving Italy.

  32. lala said

    just want to say that our thoughts are with family and friends at this sad time .my friend was the first person on the sceen and im sure she would like you to know that as soon as it happened lisa had somone there with her and she stayed with her till she passed.lisa was not screaming in pain and if anything was very calm and she went peacefully. iv seen on here people saying they were the first person on sceen,and i cant understand why anyone would make such a thing up its not a compotition,this was a very seriouse and tragice accident . My friend is glad she was there for lisa but at the same time wishes she had never got out of the car as now she is finding it very hard to sleep and funtion,it has disturbed her terriably.

  33. […] am · Filed under Neighbourhood ·Tagged Edward Square, Lisa Pontecorvo Following the sad loss of Lisa Pontecorvo last month, details have been announced for a memorial service on Friday November […]

  34. […] November, 2008 at 2:20 pm · Filed under Neighbourhood ·Tagged Lisa Pontecorvo Lisa Pontecorvo’s memorial service will be held next Friday, 14 […]

  35. Murray Grigor said

    Lisa was a class mate at Laurel Bank and best friend of my late wife Barbara Sternschein: two young girls in Glasgow with exotic outsider names- though Lisa often joked that in Scots she would like her name to be MacCrawbrig.

    When Lisa became a most effective archive film researcher, well earning the title of film ferret, Barbara and I worked together with her on numerous projects. In effect she became an alternative National Film Archive for us in Scotland, since she had a compendious stack of references compiled from the NFA lists on numerous projects. Lisa excelled herself in ferreting out the most abstruse footage for a film we did on the Vorticists, that short-lived but highly inventive art movement which was born before and died after World War I. Lisa with some delight championed our film ‘BLAST’ at the Open University as an alternative way of capturing the excitement of art without recourse to scholarly talking heads or a narrator.

    When Teen and Gus Macdonald were neighbours of Lisa and Guido Pontecorvo in Thornhill Barbara we used to see her often and shared delight in many of Lisa’s campaigns, especially the bell ringing challenge.

    That such a life force should have been taken when, Lisa ‘was approaching her prime’ – as Barbara would have said – is just too too sad for words.

    I so wish I could make Lisa’s memorial on November 14th but then I will be in Australia.

    Long Live the indomitable spirit of the great Lisa and may all her unrealised campaigns and plans now all come to pass.

    Murray Grigor

  36. […] to get from the west side of Islington to Highbury Fields and beyond. It’s also where Lisa Pontecorvo was killed, wheeling her bicycle across the road, last […]

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