Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Coroner: Boris's cycle superhighway was accident waiting to happen

A coroner today described one of Boris Johnson's first cycle superhighways as an "accident waiting to happen" as she heard how a cyclist had followed it into the path of a HGV.

Chartered surveyor Brian Dorling, 58 (below), an experienced cyclist, was killed in collision with a tipper truck at Bow roundabout as he rode to work on the Olympics site on October 24, 2011, Poplar coroner's court heard.

Martin Porter QC, representing Mr Dorling's family, suggested he had jumped the red light to get away from the McArdle truck, being driven byDavid Cox. However the lorry also jumped the light and dragged Mr Dorling under its wheels as it turned left across the unprotected cycle superhighway 2 (CS2)

After viewing CCTV evidence and pictures of the scene, coroner Mary Hassell said: "It just seems to me that it's an accident waiting to happen if cyclists are guided into the space where blue paint is on the left and they're in the very place where the lorry is going to hit them.

"It seems like they're being guided into the place where they're most vulnerable."
Accident investigator PC Alex Hewitt replied: "It's almost an impossible situation."
Mr Cox, who pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at an earlier court hearing, said he had previously entered the superhighway and was unaware of the rules.

On the day Mr Dorling's path to the cyclists' box at the traffic lights was blocked by a bus that straddled the bike lane, leaving him stuck alongside the four-axle tipper. The court heard that Mr Dorling probably undertook the lorry before the collision occurred.
The coroner added: "The presence of the blue surface does seem to have caused some sort of confusion with Mr Cox and he remained outside it."

Asked by the coroner what status cycle superhighways had in relation to vehicles not being permitted to enter, PC Hewitt said: "Legally nothing. It's just a piece of blue paint."

It was the first cyclist death on a superhighway and was the first of two cyclist fatalities at Bow roundabout that year. The other cyclist to die wasSvitlana Tereschenko.
Mr Cox told the coroner's court that he was was in the second (outside) lane as he approached the Bow roundabout from the City and failed to see Mr Dorling, from Hounslow, as he turned left to reach the North Circular Road. Mr Dorling was cycling straight ahead.

Mr Cox said: "I have thought about it a million times since. I know I was looking. I know I was. I can't change anything unfortunately."

He admitted there were "blind spots" in his view of people at the side of his lorry. He had been waiting for a bus to pull away from the inside lane before turning left.
He said: "As I have gone around the corner, all I have heard was like a crack, like a car mirror sound. I stopped and then found out what had happened."

Mr Cox,49, from Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, walked free from court in July after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving. He was sentenced to 24 weeks’ jail, suspended for a year, was disqualified from driving for two years and  ordered to do 100 hours of community service.

After the court case, Mr Dorling's widow Debbie told how she had hugged the driver, who she described as a “completely broken man” who did not deserve to be further punished. He has not driven a lorry since the collision.

The inquest is due to conclude today (Tuesday October 14).

Source: Evening Standard.

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