Month: July 2016

Real meaning of “turning the other cheek”

Is there anything more devastating than losing one’s teenage daughter, killed in a violent act, a totally avoidable death if people had been more observant, if people had responded to safety concerns, if people understood that the sanctity of life (especially that of young people) comes before the convenience of business?

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Lavna Chuttoo was walking to school on Coombe Road, New Malden, with friends in the morning of 17.11.15.

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They were walking from left to right in the picture. A lorry driver had overtaken them 45 metres before and was therefore aware of their presence; however he turned left into Lime Grove, without looking and killed Lavna.

Police investigators however blamed Lavna for running across the junction. British Police is deeply ignorant of rule 170 (as is most of the brainwashed British public) and believe that a vehicle turning left into a side street has priority over a pedestrian going straight across, which obviously is not the case.

Moreover, the junction has raised concerns in the past. Here are two quotes:

David Hoddinott, 63, of Ely Close, said: “The Lime Grove junction with Coombe Road is particularly bad as you have to be aware of traffic entering and leaving Lime Grove and Cambridge Avenue.

Tony Scott is boss of the New Malden branch of builders’ merchant Travis Perkins, which sees heavy goods vehicles drive into its site, near the junction at Lime Grove, where Lavna was hit.

He said: “It was not speed that caused that. I don’t know what they can do about it to be honest. It’s not safe, people just turn into it [Lime Grove] not necessarily looking.

It’s very busy along here at that time of morning. There’s schools around here so there’s a lot of schoolchildren about.”

Having determined that the lorry driver had no case to answer, the Police then always feels compelled to build a story of blame around the victim (who conveniently cannot dispute it). They are quite clever: taking advantage of the frail psychological state of the traumatised family, they offer compassion and understanding, at the same time painting a picture of a tragic error by the victim.

The tactics are invariably successful: the family of the victim are won over by the narrative and start to recite typical comments such as “Oh, if  only he/she had just waited …” or “Oh, if only I had been louder in telling him/her to wear a hi-viz vest”, in other words blaming the victim or themselves

As an outsider, one feels disgust on how the Police misuse their authority to manipulate minds at such frail moments.

In the case of Lavna, the psychological pressure of the Police was even able to convince the father that only a Documentary Inquest was required; in other words, rather than the Police report heard and cross-examined in Court, it was briefly summarised by the Coroner, no questions asked.

Indeed many questions needed to be asked, such as

  1. Why was the driver entering a residential street which has a sign saying “Unsuitable for HGVs”?
  2. Was the driver not aware of the presence of the children on the pavement, which he had passed only few moments before?
  3. What are the recommendations of the Traffic Management Officer?
  4. What has Kingston Council done to make the roads to the two schools in the area (one, a primary school, on Lime Grove itself) safer, in view of its obligations according to S39 of the RTA88 and the petition signed by hundreds of residents?

But the West London Coroner seems as lacking in curiosity and awareness of his duties as the Southwark Coroner.

Chettan Chuttoo, Lavna’s father, knows the answer to Question 4: a resounding NOTHING.

That should have been the headline of the newspapers after the Inquest: “Why is the Council not making the road safe for the hundreds of school children?” This is what Mr Chuttoo was asking at the end of the Inquest, but the journalists chose not to hear. And the media, the third column of this Orwellian conspiracy to keep the British public docile and dumb in the face of unremitting traffic violence, without exception ran with the victim blaming story under the cloak of the “compassion” headline:

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This again is a dishonest attempt to confuse compassion with acceptance of violence by the powerful. Jesus Christ actually said:

I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

“Ye resist not evil”. Mr Chuttoo is indeed compassionate, but he is also wise: he understands that the unbearable tragedy that visited his family has a cause and it is this evil, the evil of acceptance and passive promotion of traffic violence, that needs to be resisted and stamped out.

We wish him the best in forcing Kingston Council to make urgent changes so that the children of New Malden can go to school in safety, without having the need of second-guessing the intentions of people in charge of killing machines. For a start they need to put a zebra crossing at the entrance of Lime Grove.

Dereliction of duty by Southwark Coroner

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Section 7 of Schedule 5 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, states

7(1)Where—

(a)a senior coroner has been conducting an investigation under this Part into a person’s death,

(b)anything revealed by the investigation gives rise to a concern that circumstances creating a risk of other deaths will occur, or will continue to exist, in the future, and

(c)in the coroner’s opinion, action should be taken to prevent the occurrence or continuation of such circumstances, or to eliminate or reduce the risk of death created by such circumstances,

the coroner must report the matter to a person who the coroner believes may have power to take such action.

(2)A person to whom a senior coroner makes a report under this paragraph must give the senior coroner a written response to it.

(3)A copy of a report under this paragraph, and of the response to it, must be sent to the Chief Coroner.

 

The standards of Coroners varies considerably and we are concerned that the Southwark Coroner is in breach of the Act.

We have witnessed two occasions where he conducted inquests following the death of people riding bicycles. In both occasions the Police reports clearly indicated concerns that “circumstances creating a risk of other deaths will occur, or will continue to exist, in the future” and the Coroner did not make these concerns public and did not take the action which is required to take by Law.

After a fatal collision, two branches of the Police investigate the circumstances of the collision:

  • Collision Investigators examine the mechanics of the crash
  • A Traffic Management Officer examines the road layout and other environmental issues

In both occasions, detailed below, the Coroner chose not to make public the report of the Traffic Management Officer highlighting his concerns.

In spite of the Police concerns, the Coroner chose not to issue Prevention of Future Death reports. This can only be explained if the Coroner followed 7.1.c, i.e. in his opinion no action “should be taken to prevent the occurrence or continuation of such circumstances”. But surely if that is the case, he must explain why he reached such conclusion. The fact that he chose not to disclose the Police concerns clearly point to a cover-up.

Here are the details:

Inquest of the death of Tafsir Butt at Vauxhall Gyratory

Ross Lydall has written an excellent account of the Inquest .

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These are the recommendations found in the Traffic Management Officer’s report, suppressed by the Coroner:

Following the site visit I have the following recommendations /observations .

1) South bound South Lambeth Road on approach to Parry Street be made a three lane carriageway for mixed traffic, each lane to be slightly wider than the present ones to accommodate large goods vehicles having to straddle existing lanes when turning into Parry Street . This then allows room for a dedicated cycle lane along the near-side of Parry Street .

2) North bound South Lambeth Road on approach to Parry Street to have a near-side cycle lane leading to the recommended cycle lane in Parry Street .

3) To have a lighting review under the railway bridge in Parry Street .

4) South Lambeth Place north west bound to have the cycle lane joining point with the main carriageway greater highlighted with either or both markings and/or lighting .

Essentially there are two areas of concern and in both cases the Coroner chose to disregard them:

  1. Deficiency of cycle lanes on the gyratory. Following the death of Butt, and a few months prior to the inquest, a new segregated cycle infrastructure was opened; it allows cyclists heading to Vauxhall Bridge and to Albert Embankment (and this would have included Butt) to avoid the treacherous gyratory. But what about cyclists heading to Nine Elms: are they catered by the new cycle tracks or are they still led on the same death trap that killed Butt? This is is a question that the Coroner needed to ask but chose not to.
  2. Lighting under the bridge. Both TMO and crash investigators stated that the tunnel under the railway bridge is insufficiently lit. However rather than following the TMO’s recommendation and ask TfL to review the lighting, the Coroner chose to blame Butt for wearing dark clothing.

Inquest of the death of Abdelkhalak Lahyani at Elephant & Castle

We described the Inquest here. Again the Coroner chose not to make public the Traffic Management Officer’s Report and in spite of its recommendations chose not to issue a Prevention of Future Deaths report, without stating his reasons.

Lahyani was killed when a lorry turned left from a lane that had “Only Right Turn” arrows.

Here are the conclusions of the Police report (my bold):

During the site visit it was noticed that all buses both passing through and waiting at the junction straddled the cycle feeder lane. Lane two did not appear wide enough for buses to wait without straddling the feeder lane.

The positioning of the cycle feeder lane between lanes one and two where lane one is a lane for vehicles intending to turn left, is within the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions guidelines and is a previously used design . At this location, in order for this design to be safe for cyclists, drivers in lanes two and three must adhere to the advisory right turn arrows on the carriageway . Lane two does not appear wide enough for larger vehicles to use without impeding the cycle feeder lane . Lanes two and three are clearly marked with arrows that they should be used by traffic intending to turn right ahead. These arrows however are not mandatory. According to the road layout, a cyclist using the feeder lane could reasonably expect vehicles in lane two to be turning right.

Transport for London have looked at the option of using mandatory directional arrows as part of the signal phasing but have discounted this .

We will not dwell on the point that the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions guidelines is a discredited document and that even TfL acknowledges that many of its guidelines compromise the safety of people cycling.

The report makes clear that

  • the design is too cramped for the safety of cyclists
  • the right hand turn from the lanes to the right of the cycle lane must be made mandatory

And yet the Coroner chose to disregard the report, did not ask why “Transport for London have looked at the option of using mandatory directional arrows as part of the signal phasing but have discounted this ” and did not issue a Prevention of Future Death report.

Conclusions

We have often decried that the present system, without an Independent Investigative Road Collision Authority, is not fit for purpose. Many avoidable killings are poorly investigated and lessons are not learned.

In this post we are highlighting that some of the actions of the people appointed to prevent avoidable deaths breaches the Law and we encourage the Chief Coroner to issue clear guidelines and to be more vigilant of illegal behaviour by Coroners.

Does the Mayor know how broken TfL’s models are?

Andrew Gilligan has publicly admitted several times that the models used by TfL to forecast the consequences of changes in the road network are broken.

Although mathematically complex, these models are based on wrong assumptions, namely that transport users are automatons that can’t/won’t/don’t change behaviour. The reality, repeatedly demonstrated by many, following the lead of Professor Goodwin and Sally Cairns, is that people adapt to new circumstances by changing the time or the mode of travel.

The result is a typically British exercise in futility and waste: millions of pounds are spent in preparing studies that:

  • are intellectually meaningless (GIGO)
  • feather the pockets of unscrupulous “consultants”
  • block real change

We have repeatedly said that a much more useful exercise is to examine what happens on the ground when long-term roadworks occur.

We go further: we suggest that, when long term roadworks need to be implemented, it is a golden opportunity to plan and execute experiments with the view of establishing permanent motor traffic reduction.

We therefore welcome Caroline Russell’s Question to the Mayor on this topic (below), but it seems Sadiq Khan doesn’t understand the issues.

Capturing data on temporary road closures Question No: 2016/1980 Caroline Russell
TfL does not routinely collect data on temporary road closures or changes, in terms of traffic levels, changes to peoples’ travel patterns and satisfaction with travel conditions. Do you agree that this is a missed opportunity to gather evidence to support changes that could encourage more active travel and if so should TfL start routinely gathering this evidence, for example during the three month closure of Tower Bridge?
The Mayor
TfL routinely collects anonymised data from a network of over 1,590 Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras as well as traffic signals and automatic traffic counters. This enables investigation of changes in traffic levels and patterns, and travel behaviour during temporary closures or changes to the network. Since 2010, the TfL Road Network Customer Satisfaction Survey has helped provide TfL with a better understanding of road users’ expectations. TfL is supporting customers, road users and stakeholders including local residents and businesses ahead of the City of London’s closure of Tower Bridge by providing information and advice to reduce disruption to their journeys. I have asked TfL to monitor traffic levels, patterns and road users’ response to this closure and to adapt advice and information accordingly.

The problem with Khan is that so far he has approached answering questions from Assembly Members in an arrogant non-informative way. So we cannot tell: did he not understand or did he choose to provide a non-answer?

We urge Russell to ask again, giving more concrete examples. Here are two:

  • Transport for London is planning to remodel Old Street Roundabout; will it take this opportunity to examine the effect of curtailing through traffic on the Old Street/ Clerkenwell Road corridor?
  • Tower Bridge is a very unpleasant bridge to cycle on. The carriageway is narrow; if one plans for two cycle lanes there is space for only one motor traffic lane; so the best solution is to make Tower Bridge one way, with alternate direction in a.m. and p.m. Will TfL study the changes in travel patterns during the closure to validate a plan to make Tower Bridge one way?