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LSE student cyclist killed in collision

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A LSE student cyclist who was killed in collision with a bin lorry in central London had “a hug to spare for everyone”, her family said in a tribute.

The 33-year-old Indian woman, Cheistha Kochhar, was fatally injured in Clerkenwell while returning home from her doctoral studies in behavioural science.

She died at the scene, on Clerkenwell Road at the junction with A201 Farringdon Road, after the crash at about 8.20pm last Tuesday.

Her husband, Prashant, a software engineer, was reportedly cycling a few yards ahead and rushed back to try to help. They had been married for just over a year.

Ms Kochhar had been riding a Forest e-bike at the time, the Standard has learned. It is the hire bike firm’s first London cycle fatality. Her family said the magnitude of the loss was “incomprehensible”.

A family statement released via the Metropolitan police on Tuesday said: “Cheistha’s deep intelligence and passions were belied by her sprightly demeanour and the consummate ease with which she eased people out of their shells to make friends with her.

“She always had a hug to spare for anyone and she lived her life with the principle that it was more important to be the kindest person in the room, than to be the smartest person in the room.

“In the short span she had on this planet, she touched tens of thousands of people in extremely meaningful ways and the magnitude of this loss is incomprehensible.”

She was the first cyclist to be killed in London this year. Nine cyclists were killed last year. At least 14 pedestrians have been killed this year, according to Transport for London data.

A Forest spokesperson said: “We were deeply saddened to learn of the fatal incident in Clerkenwell. Our condolences and sympathies go to the individual’s family and friends.”

Last week the LSE joined with 35 other academic institutions and student unions to call on Sadiq Khan and other London mayoral candidates to end road deaths suffered by cyclists and pedestrians by 2028.

Last year two LSE staff members, Gao Gao and Adeline Stuart-Watt, were killed while out cycling. Gao Gao, a mother of two, was fatally injured by a hit-and-run driver in Hackney last September. Ms Stuart-Watt was hit by a car last April as she pushed her bike across a road in Epping.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE, said on Tuesday: “This is a terrible tragedy. Cyclists should not be taking their lives in their hands when they travel about London.

“We believe that many of the deaths of cyclists and pedestrians due to collisions with motor vehicles on the streets of the capital are preventable.

“We wrote last week to all the mayoral candidates to ask them to pledge to end by 2028 the deaths of pedestrians and cyclists from motor vehicles in London. We have yet to hear from the two leading candidates.

“We are deeply saddened that the importance of our campaign should have been demonstrated in such a heartbreaking way so soon after writing to the mayoral candidates.”

Ms Kochhar’s family said that prior to studying at LSE she had worked with the Government of India in various roles including in the office of the advisor to the Prime Minister.

They added: “Even though these were early stages of her PhD, she was sure to work on studying and improving collaboration between various pro-social organisations to tackle the grand challenges that countries from the Global South face. She was an ardent patriot and wanted to bring all her expertise back to India to change lives.”

The department head of Ms Kochhar’s course at the LSE, Sarah Ashwin, described her as a “brilliant student”.

She wrote in an online tribute: “Cheistha was a brilliant student – gifted, warm, hardworking, full of life and light. She was a model member of the PhD community, loved by everyone who interacted with her. We had high hopes would grow to be a reputed scholar. We are so sorry that these dreams will not be realised, but we will find ways to ensure she is not forgotten at LSE.”

Amitabh Kant, former chief executive of NITI Aayog, where she had worked briefly, wrote on X: “She was bright, brilliant and brave and always full of life.”

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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