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CCTV footage shown at inquest reveals scientist rode up inside of lorry that was indicating a left-turn before it struck her

The coroner sitting on the inquest of Dr Katherine Giles, who was killed while riding her bike by a left-turning tipper truck in Victoria last April, says cyclists have to be aware of the danger of riding up the inside of lorries.

Dr Shirley Radcliffe’s comments came at the end of an inquest in which Westminster Coroner’s Court had been shown CCTV footage described as giving a “very clear view” of the events leading to the death of the 35-year-old polar scientist, reports the London Evening Standard.

Recording a verdict of “traumatic road death,” Dr Radcliffe said: “I don’t wish to place any fault or blame on the victim on this occasion.

“But I can highlight once again the danger of coming up on the near-side of lorries. It’s been recognised as causing many deaths in London.”

The CCTV footage showed Dr Giles riding up the inside of the truck and into the driver's blind spot as the lorry waited at traffic lights at the junction of Palace Street and Victoria Street having just picked up a load of earth and soil from a nearby building site.

The court heard that the lorry’s left indicator was flashing, and that there was also an audible warning that it was due to turn left prior to the fatal collision, which happened at 8.25am on the morning of Monday 8 April 2013.

According to a statement from cyclist Charles Lousada, who was riding behind Dr Giles: “It appeared she was trying to pull the bike away from the front wheels of the tipper truck. She was unbalanced... she appeared to be flipped backwards.

“She was motionless on her back. I could see her eyes open. Her head was injured... I knew she was dead. Any first aid would not have assisted with the massive head injuries.”

Dr Giles’s death resulted from injuries sustained to her head, chest and pelvis.

The lorry driver involved, James Matovu, was described by the coroner as having been “oblivious” to having struck Dr Giles, and stopped his vehicle once an off-duty police officer flagged him down as he drove along Victoria Street.

The Standard reports that he ran back to the junction where the collision had happened, the newspaper adding: “members of the public tried to stop him seeing the horror of the scene.”

Mr Matuvo said in a statement: “I’m very sorry that Katharine Giles died as a result of the collision. I was very shocked and upset by the collision.”

No charges have been brought against the driver, with Detective Sergeant Matt Austin of the Metropolitan Police saying that the case was not referred to the Crown Prosecution Service after officers concluded there was not enough evidence of the commission of an offence to give rise to a “realistic prospect of conviction.”

It is believed that Dr Giles, who lived in Maida Vale, was riding to her place of work at University College London’s Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling, where her work had led to her being described as a “brilliant young scientist.”

The coroner disclosed that Dr Giles’s parents had decided not to attend the inquest and the Standard adds that her friends also declined to be present.

In the days following her death last April, both the London Cycling Campaign and British Cycling urged for lorries to be banned from city centres at morning rush hour, something Mayor of London Boris Johnson has rejected.

A planned vigil for Dr Giles being organised by the charity RoadPeace was cancelled out of respect for her family’s wishes.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

45 comments

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Wolfshade [162 posts] 2 years ago
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cyclists have to be aware of the danger of riding up the inside of lorries

While I agree with this sentiment, there is moreover a problem that frequently cycling infrastructure encourages cyclists to pass on the inside of vehicles.
Most on road cycle lanes ride up the inside of the traffic, then those lovely ASL which the majority of them have a filter lane up the left handside actively encouraging, nay, demanding that cyclists enter from the inside of traffic.

With all this infrastructure pushing cyclists up the inside it is little wonder that this is what happens.

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bubbles_jonnybravo [11 posts] 2 years ago
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Wolfshade wrote:

Most on road cycle lanes ride up the inside of the traffic, then those lovely ASL which the majority of them have a filter lane up the left handside actively encouraging, nay, demanding that cyclists enter from the inside of traffic.

With all this infrastructure pushing cyclists up the inside it is little wonder that this is what happens.

I disagree, yes the lanes are on the left but it is up to the individual as to whether or not they ride down the inside of traffic, effectively undertaking. We as in cyclist could just as easy wait behind the vehicle in front at lights and ride off as they change. Especially if vehicles are indicating.

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mrmo [2021 posts] 2 years ago
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Wolfshade wrote:

Most on road cycle lanes ride up the inside of the traffic, then those lovely ASL which the majority of them have a filter lane up the left handside actively encouraging, nay, demanding that cyclists enter from the inside of traffic.

I have to say it does sound as if she made a very stupid, in hindsight, manoeuvre and paid very dearly for it. It does raise the question as to whether ASLs and the feeder lanes are "fit for purpose", I don't know if there was or was not an ASL in this case, but anything that suggests it is a good idea to go into the blind zones of trucks is questionable and the habits it creates.

When will we be seeing traffic engineers being held accountable for their input into road planning. Who creates pinchpoints? who create fast junctions with a primary purpose of keeping the traffic (cars) moving?

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themartincox [469 posts] 2 years ago
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"The court heard that the lorry’s left indicator was flashing, and that there was also an audible warning that it was due to turn left prior to the fatal collision"

An unwise manoeuvre from the cyclist, as sad as this incident is, the driver was doing all that he could to alert traffic as to his intentions - seems pretty blameless from that description.

Got to hang back if they are indicating!

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therealsmallboy [162 posts] 2 years ago
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I just feel sorry for everyone involved. Well done to the people who tried to stop the driver seeing her body like that. What a waste.

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Guyz2010 [302 posts] 2 years ago
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Bloody sad way to go & I feel sorry for the truck driver. Was she in that kinda urgency that doing a foolish move like was going to save time?
We cyclist are the most vulnerable in these occasion and must consider this in our actions.
God bless her.

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AyBee [85 posts] 2 years ago
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Wolfshade wrote:
Quote:

cyclists have to be aware of the danger of riding up the inside of lorries

While I agree with this sentiment, there is moreover a problem that frequently cycling infrastructure encourages cyclists to pass on the inside of vehicles.
Most on road cycle lanes ride up the inside of the traffic, then those lovely ASL which the majority of them have a filter lane up the left handside actively encouraging, nay, demanding that cyclists enter from the inside of traffic.

With all this infrastructure pushing cyclists up the inside it is little wonder that this is what happens.

And it's attitudes like this which really don't help. What on earth happened to taking responsibility for your own actions? No infrastructure in the world is "demanding that cyclists enter from the inside of traffic", what an absurd statement to make. It's perfectly possible to hang back behind buses and lorries at junctions to avoid being on the inside when the lights turn green even if the cycle lane does go down the left hand side to the front. You'll add seconds to your journey but I'd rather arrive late than never!

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giff77 [1193 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm with Wolfshade on this one. Many of us on the forum here have the sense to hang back whenever there is an HGV or bus ahead. In fact if I'm not going to hit the white line ahead of any traffic I will not filter through to the ASL regardless of what vehicle is ahead of me. Sadly many commuters have been convinced that the cycle lane feeding the ASL is a safe place to be and do not realise that heavier vehicles will cut the corner in turning or that a motorist will just turn without indicating. I would scrap the feeder lane and if a cyclist arrives at the ASL ahead of other vehicles fine. If not then just wait up in the queue. But we need to scrap this idea of filtering through to get to the front.

The sooner better thought through junctions are designed the better.

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ribena [174 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

And it's attitudes like this which really don't help

Its attitudes like that which are responsible for building cars with crumple zones, airbags, and seatbelts, making motorways with crash barriers down the middle, putting pedestrian crossings in to make crossing the road safer, and doing the many other things that have reduced road deaths from 8000 a year to under 2000.

When you are cycling its best to assume everyone else is an idiot. Regardless of your views on personal responsibility designing roads and vehicles the same ways saves a lot of lives (and often saves money too).

If the lorry had been fitted with cameras for example he might have stopped, and beeped his horn. No-one would have died and she'd have learnt a lesson.

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McDuff73 [78 posts] 2 years ago
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have to ask yourself, in such a technical world these days why the hell are there such large dangerous vehicles like trucks still allowed on the road with 'blind spots'!? its sheer lunacy to allow such vehicles to continue using the road.

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userfriendly [539 posts] 2 years ago
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Because safety costs money. And they're all worshipping the God of Profit. Money, money über alles!

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RPK [75 posts] 2 years ago
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Personally, I'd just wait behind any large vehicle. It's been shown that even stopping in front of one, in a stop box, doesn't guarantee that you've been seen.

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arfa [696 posts] 2 years ago
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All very sad any which way you look at it. Personally I have a problem with vehicles of a size that can be designed so that they can drive over a human without the driver noticing, especially when they are running through populated areas. What about children ? They just wouldn't stand a chance.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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themartincox wrote:

"The court heard that the lorry’s left indicator was flashing, and that there was also an audible warning that it was due to turn left prior to the fatal collision"

An unwise manoeuvre from the cyclist, as sad as this incident is, the driver was doing all that he could to alert traffic as to his intentions - seems pretty blameless from that description.

Got to hang back if they are indicating!

Good advice, but I would add that, as lorry drivers, we are not perfect, and neither are the trucks we drive. Whether the indicators are flashing or not, just in case they're not working, or the driver hasn't indicated, don't even think about undertaking - it's just not worth the few seconds you might save. RIP.

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mooleur [537 posts] 2 years ago
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giff77 wrote:

I'm with Wolfshade on this one. Many of us on the forum here have the sense to hang back whenever there is an HGV or bus ahead. In fact if I'm not going to hit the white line ahead of any traffic I will not filter through to the ASL regardless of what vehicle is ahead of me. Sadly many commuters have been convinced that the cycle lane feeding the ASL is a safe place to be and do not realise that heavier vehicles will cut the corner in turning or that a motorist will just turn without indicating. I would scrap the feeder lane and if a cyclist arrives at the ASL ahead of other vehicles fine. If not then just wait up in the queue. But we need to scrap this idea of filtering through to get to the front.

The sooner better thought through junctions are designed the better.

I agree with this. As a country bumpkin, I moved to London four years ago (and have since left after being hit by cars too many times and deciding that I'm not quite built for the City!) and began riding a bike originally as a means of getting to work.

Where I come from there's no ASL's or cycling lanes etc (there's no need, it's all country lanes etc). So when presented with the way the infrastructure works in London you're immediately coerced into thinking that the marked-out lines are there for your benefit. You can't really blame someone who might have come from an understanding of an entirely different traffic culture.

Something needs to change in London to make cyclists aware of the imminent danger surrounding them at all times, they shouldn't be lead to believe that simply using filter lanes, cycle lanes and ASL's allow them to travel safely.

This is such a sad story. I hope it changes there asap.  2

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Edgeley [261 posts] 2 years ago
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What a stupid comment. How can we all want more people to cycle, and then say that the only people who will be allowed to survive going out on their bikes are experienced survivors like us?

Of course people should take personal responsibility, but it is also the responsibility of planners not to encourage people into dangerous places with evil infrastructure.

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teaboy [307 posts] 2 years ago
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Infrastructure once again is the major cause of this death. You cannot continue to paint lines on the road telling everyone where cyclists 'should' be, while at the same time telling cyclists they shouldn't be there.

This permeates out to junctions and other road areas without any cycle lanes - cyclists have to be on the left. This is what we (as road users) are told. The Highway Code even states "Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer." (Rule 63)

This implies that the more skilled and experienced you are the less likely you are to use these lanes because you'll better understand the danger they can put you in. Is that how good cycle infrastructure should work?

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Colin Peyresourde [1637 posts] 2 years ago
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I agree that ASLs, with their filter lanes, give cyclists the wrong perception about positioning. But I also contend that these same mistakes would be made without them because of the perception of where cyclists should ride.

This accident (which is so so tragic and sad for all involved) is perpetuated up and down the country where ASLs are not de rigeur. The problem for me is always about education. Educating truck drivers, educating car users and cyclists. I get fed up of hearing people on this site absolve cyclists of any responsibility out on the road, especially given that such basic understanding of other road users and the road would negate such occurrences . I'm not insisting on mandatory tests, but simple encouragement to use free Instruction and road craft would massively reduce the number of these accidents, which appear to be far too routine....and it's cheap too.

If I get any comments about victim blaming I'll just point to what the coroner said.

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700c [819 posts] 2 years ago
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I think the coroner was right to say what she did, in that awareness about this particular danger might make the difference in future between a tragedy occurring or not, in the current road layouts.

That doesn't detract from the fact that cycling infrastructure should be immediately addressed as well. It would have helped if the coroner had made this point, alongside highlighting the danger of cycling in ASL's around left-turning lorries within the current road layouts.

As learner car drivers, we are taught how to deal with large vehicles and the particular characteristics and requirements they have when turning. There is no such mandatory training for cyclists. Even if ASL's were abolished, this education would still be beneficial to the cyclist

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McDuff73 [78 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't agree that the coroner was right, if the vehicle was stationary when she passed she was at that point at no risk, the fault then is with the poorly designed truck that doesn't allow the operator to see all around them.

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Colin Peyresourde [1637 posts] 2 years ago
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McDuff73 wrote:

I don't agree that the coroner was right, if the vehicle was stationary when she passed she was at that point at no risk, the fault then is with the poorly designed truck that doesn't allow the operator to see all around them.

When is it ever a good time to undertake a left indicating vehicle? Even if it was stationary it is a bad idea. If I was in a car I wouldn't expect someone to undertake me while turning left.

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hampstead_bandit [594 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't drive.

However I have been told on numerous occasions by authority figures to obey the road markings

Those road markings are telling me to go up the left side when I ride into an ASL.

Who put those markings on the road?

The local authority. Or are cyclists supposed to ignore road marking and develop their own sense of which marking to obey, which to ignore..

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FluffyKittenofT... [1115 posts] 2 years ago
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hampstead_bandit wrote:

Or are cyclists supposed to ignore road marking and develop their own sense of which marking to obey, which to ignore..

To be honest, yes. Official advice and official road markings seem to conflict quite frequently (door zone cycle lanes surely have to be the paradigmatic example?).

Its one of the many peculiarities of British life, I guess. Sometimes if you do what you are told, you lose. Sort of like a high-stakes game of 'Simon Says'.

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mrmo [2021 posts] 2 years ago
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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

To be honest, yes. Official advice and official road markings seem to conflict quite frequently (door zone cycle lanes surely have to be the paradigmatic example?).

Which if you take it to its illogical conclusion, shall we just regard lane markings on motorways as advisory, speed limits as inconveniences, traffic lights as hints, and box junctions as invisible?

If your going to paint the roads, make the paint mean something and have some reason for being there! There is enough crap in the urban environment without adding more and more pointless crap!

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Colin Peyresourde [1637 posts] 2 years ago
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hampstead_bandit wrote:

I don't drive.

However I have been told on numerous occasions by authority figures to obey the road markings

Those road markings are telling me to go up the left side when I ride into an ASL.

Who put those markings on the road?

The local authority. Or are cyclists supposed to ignore road marking and develop their own sense of which marking to obey, which to ignore..

That's a very simplistic, polarised view of road markings. But if you know your Highway Code some road markings are more guides than rules. For instance if you drive down a road which has no central road marking you don't ride in the middle of the road, or on the right. Equally, if you have a dashed line it indicates that you should stay left of it unless obstructed or over taking. Equally I've never seen police officers forcing any cyclist to mandatorily use a bike lane or an ASL filter. So if you really do think that all road markings are to be obeyed equally then maybe you need to get to grips with your Highway Code.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1115 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

To be honest, yes. Official advice and official road markings seem to conflict quite frequently (door zone cycle lanes surely have to be the paradigmatic example?).

Which if you take it to its illogical conclusion, shall we just regard lane markings on motorways as advisory, speed limits as inconveniences, traffic lights as hints, and box junctions as invisible?

If your going to paint the roads, make the paint mean something and have some reason for being there! There is enough crap in the urban environment without adding more and more pointless crap!

Well, to be fair, some road markings are compulsory, some are advisory. All the same, it does seem to me, as a mere road user, that a lot of the advisory ones seem to be put in by people who don't really know what they are doing.

Also, motorists generally ignore a large proportion of the supposedly 'enforceable' ones and nothing is ever done about it.

In short, many of the supposedly 'compulsory' ones seem to in reality be 'advisory' and many of the 'advisory' ones seem to be ill-advised.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1115 posts] 2 years ago
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Colin Peyresourde wrote:

For instance if you drive down a road which has no central road marking you don't ride in the middle of the road, or on the right.

So how come so many motorists (I'd say the majority of them) do _exactly_ that?

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JeevesBath [156 posts] 2 years ago
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McDuff73 wrote:

I don't agree that the coroner was right, if the vehicle was stationary when she passed she was at that point at no risk, the fault then is with the poorly designed truck that doesn't allow the operator to see all around them.

To be fair to drivers, even if this were the case they can still only look in one direction at a time - which is normally forwards as this the space they are driving into.

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700c [819 posts] 2 years ago
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Highway code rule 221 (space around turning Lorries) is very relevant here. Although this bit is aimed at car drivers, it is even more important when considering the vulnerability of a cyclist in this situation.

If all users simply followed the road markings to the letter regardless of other traffic or environmental conditions, there would be chaos everywhere, from the dangerous driving/cycling etc that would inevitably result.

The points made about dangerous infrastructure and lorry/cyclist safety needing improvement are totallyvalid, this does not mean that you shouldn't exercise common sense when deciding whether or not to undertake a lorry who is about to turn left.

The highway code helps a great deal in stressing this point.

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Paul_C [393 posts] 2 years ago
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proper Dutch style infrastructure would have kept her separated from the lorry... painted lines on the road do not make proper infrastructure... ASL's and feeder lanes are a joke... a very tragic, bad joke...

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