No lessons learned from a preventable death

Henry Lang was killed by a refuse lorry as he was cycling on a cycle track in Richmond. This was a totally avoidable death and yet:

  • the Police has not charged the killer
  • the Coroner has refused to issue a Prevention of Future Death report
  • the local paper has done its bit of victim blaming
  • Transport for London are likely not to change anything.

Let’s see the conditions of 350 metres of cycle facilities, before and after the site of the killing:

Picture 2 – Share with pedestrians and then, who has priority at exit of rugby pitch?
Picture 3 – Where Henry was killed

Picture 4 – 50 metres after Henry was killed, another yield

Picture 5 – Why should cyclists yield to waiting pedestrians? Pedestrians should wait either side of the track; cyclists should need to stop only when green man is on.

Picture 6 – Typically awful treatment for crossing road, with two unsynched traffic lights

Picture 7 – Why do they bother?

Picture 8 – The ultimate insult: Dismount!

According to the engineers who laid out this deathtrap, to TfL, to the Coroner and to the ignorant journalist, it is Henry’s fault to be killed, because every few metres he should have looked behind him and guessed whether any of the criminals driving over the speed limit was going to cut across him. At the inquest, it was not recorded whether the lorry was indicating. We have all seen the very poor standards of driving of sub-sub-contracted drivers of refuse lorries. [I have been physically assaulted by one such driver in Islington. The team lied to the Police, so no-one was charged, the Council refused to pay my claim for injuries and Councillor Webbe refuses to mandate that refuse lorries be equipped with dashcams]

These 350 metres are a typical example of the idiocy and nastiness of British authorities. I leave it to Rosie Downs, campaigns manager at the London Cycling Campaign to explain in detail:

Henry’s death highlights massive confusion in the design of safe road infrastructure and in the enforcement of laws requiring careful driving. Despite the confusion over priorities at this junction many cyclists will be disappointed in the failure of the police to consider there was a duty of care on the driver to look out for cyclists on the well used track  which is plainly visible to drivers turning off the main road.
Highway Code rule 183 says “When turning, give way to any vehicles using a bus lane, cycle lane or tramway from either direction”. However at this junction and at thousands like it formal priority has been removed from the cycle track with give way lines painted across the track.
Unfortunately that layout was seen as a safe design without realizing that it requires cyclists to give way to faster traffic overtaking them from behind. The latest advice from the London Cycle Design Standards (section 5.3.4) says the priority at this sort of junction should be reversed to reduce danger and “to offer the highest level of service for cyclists”.
Such a change would make cyclists journeys safer and make them feel safer. The current design gives a false sense of safety which actually increases the risk of collision.

The most dangerous cycle lane in Richmond

London Cycling Campaign’s local group has described the cycle track alongside the A316 as “the most dangerous cycle lane in Richmond” for the repeated use of this junction design.
In the UK, cyclists crossing the give way line at a cycle path have no legal protection. The advisory Highway Code rule 170, regarded as the rule most often disregarded in the Highway Code, says “You should watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way.” This advisory wording means that motorists do not give way to pedestrians, and as cyclists are not referenced they are forgotten altogether.
The normal rule in continental countries is that vehicles making any turning movement should give way to pedestrians or cyclists going straight ahead across their path, unless there are signs or signals saying otherwise.
LCC and others have pushed for cycle and pedestrian priority over turning traffic, but to date national government has refused to legally reinforce this. A legal change would make it much easier to introduce segregated cycle tracks, and it would make walking and cycling feel much safer, like it does in the Netherlands. Transport Minister Robert Goodwill says that the government doesn’t encourage cycle priority because of the low levels of cycling, and they will only reconsider this position if we see an increase in cycling. Yet there are barriers that need to be overcome before cycling becomes a realistic option for most: and road danger is the most significant barrier.

There is a 100% probability that someone is going to get killed on a cycle track like this. It is like having a live electric cable in the middle of a Regent Street pavement and then blame pedestrians for getting electrocuted, because they did not read the sign.

Just another example that Transport for London kills by design.

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