Cyclist killed in Whitechapel in November had almost twice driving blood alcohol limit

Bus driver had no chance to avoid hitting Khalid al-Hashimi

by John Stevenson   April 11, 2014  

Ghost Bike (CC licensed image by marcus_jb1973:Flickr)

One of the cyclists who died during last November’s spate of fatal collisions had almost twice the legal driving limit of blood alcohol when he rode in front of a bus, the inquest into his death heard yesterday.

Khalid al-Hashimi was riding back to St John’s Wood after celebrating his 21st birthday with friends in Whitechapel on November 13.

He was hit by a 205 double decker bus at about 11.30pm after riding the wrong way up Leman Street, a one-way street leading to Whitechapel High Street, reports the Evening Standard’s Ross Lydall.

CCTV video from the bus showed that Mr al-Hashimi appeared suddenly 10m in front of it, and driver David Brennan had no chance to avoid the cyclist.

Poplar coroner’s court heard that the post-mortem examination revealed Mr al-Hashimi to have 154 milligrams of ethanol per 100 millilitres of blood. The driving limit is 80 milligrams.

Collision investigator PC Andrew Smith said Mr al-Hashimi may have been confused by a wrongly-angled red light in the centre of Whitechapel High Street used by traffic turning right into Commercial Street.

Coroner Mary Hassall asked if it would have made any difference if Mr al-Hashimi had been wearing a helmet.

Pathologist Dr Chin Along said: “I don’t think so. Bicycle helmets, the way they are designed, are not for velocity injuries.”

Ms Hassell recorded that Mr al-Hashimi died as a result of road traffic collision. She said: “It may be that Mr al-Hashimi saw the cars stationary and saw the red light and thought the cars were being held at the red light, and thought it was safe to cross.

“But nevertheless this wasn’t a pedestrian crossing and he [the bus driver] didn’t stop, and that is why the collision occurred, I’m very sorry to say.”

40 user comments

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Paul_C wrote:
proper infrastructure would have kept him safely away from that bus... there is NO excuse...

I doubt it - he was drunk and most likely wouldn't have found a segregated cycle lane. If you can't see the road properly, stay off it - walking, cycling or driving. Get a cab.

Extra bike? What extra bike dear?

goggy's picture

posted by goggy [86 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:29

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northstar wrote:
"He was hit by a 205 double decker bus at about 11.30pm after riding the wrong way up Leman Street"

I expect this of the the trash that is the ES but a cycling website using the "wrong way" when no such thing exists for riders...

Err... up a one-way street, even not relevant to cyclists (isn't it? I'm not sure) is still worth a Darwin Award.

Extra bike? What extra bike dear?

goggy's picture

posted by goggy [86 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:31

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No it isn't, it's perfectly safe, next?

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:34

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northstar wrote:
"He was hit by a 205 double decker bus at about 11.30pm after riding the wrong way up Leman Street"

I expect this of the the trash that is the ES but a cycling website using the "wrong way" when no such thing exists for riders...

It does exist for riders. It's a general rule. The legal stuff is long winded but just because there is no specific offence doesn't mean its legal.

If you want chapter and verse it's here
http://ukcyclerules.com/2011/08/09/cycling-one-way-streets/

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [505 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:44

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northstar wrote:
No it isn't, it's perfectly safe, next?

err

1 It's a traffic offence. See my other post.
2 It is common practice in many countries. I think it could be adopted here. It's not intrinsically unsafe as a concept. But it is bloody unsafe if other road users aren't expecting you to be doing it. cos it's a traffic offence.

If it were legal and drivers were aware it might happen and were expecting then it would be safe.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [505 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:48

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If it's a traffic offence why did the aforementioned police officer not react at all when i was doing it?

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:57

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Put it into context.
Had it been a pedestrian staggering out into the street "the wrong way", you wouldn't be calling for better pavements, you'd say it was a great shame, tragic accident etc.

Had it been a driver doing the same, you'd more or less be saying he deserved it, how dare he drive while pissed, it served him right etc.

Only on here could a tragic death descend into the rights and wrongs of riding the wrong way up a one way street or arguing if the signage was to blame. Another reason for closing the comments on stories involving a death. Sad

Hint: pissed people don't always notice or obey signs or make rational judgements about their actions.

posted by crazy-legs [485 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:59

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I would actually, as like everyone i am a pedestrian and a lot of the pavements I've walked on leave A LOT to be desired (if they exist at all on some public highways).

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
11th April 2014 - 19:13

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Is Leman Street a 30 limit?

Not excusing the cyclist's pissed-ness (but hey, we've all done it) but as it says above, he appeared 10m in front of the bus - not enough time to scrub off sufficient speed to reduce the severity of the collision? I wonder if he had lights?

But, at nearly twice the drink driving limit I'm afraid he himself has engineered his downfall.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
11th April 2014 - 19:52

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northstar wrote:
If it's a traffic offence why did the aforementioned police officer not react at all when i was doing it?

Same reason they ignore people riding on the pavement. They either can't be arsed or don't know the laws they're meant to impose.

Riding the wrong way up a one way street = a choppers trick.

posted by ajmarshal1 [250 posts]
11th April 2014 - 22:49

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northstar wrote:
If it's a traffic offence why did the aforementioned police officer not react at all when i was doing it?

same reason they they ignore people driving at 80mph on a motorway.

can't be bothered
looking for bigger fish to fry
just about to knock off
just decided he needs the toilet and soon
actually involved in looking for something else at the time
who knows?

the copper failing to react should not be taken as a definitive legal opinion.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [505 posts]
11th April 2014 - 22:58

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ajmarshal1 wrote:
northstar wrote:
If it's a traffic offence why did the aforementioned police officer not react at all when i was doing it?

Same reason they ignore people riding on the pavement. They either can't be arsed or don't know the laws they're meant to impose.

Riding the wrong way up a one way street = a choppers trick.

But they do not ignore people riding on the pavement, it's their biggest income ; )

Riding in both ways is not dangerous, go and do it and if you are smart enough, you will live to tell the tale, next?

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
11th April 2014 - 22:59

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oozaveared wrote:
northstar wrote:
If it's a traffic offence why did the aforementioned police officer not react at all when i was doing it?

same reason they they ignore people driving at 80mph on a motorway.

can't be bothered
looking for bigger fish to fry
just about to knock off
just decided he needs the toilet and soon
actually involved in looking for something else at the time
who knows?

the copper failing to react should not be taken as a definitive legal opinion.

I'm not saying it is, but you and I both know they have got better things to do than worry about silly things like this, maybe that's why contraflow lanes are being put in (all over london anyway).

It's so irrelevant it didn't even come up with a very long conversation i had with a inspector about riding in general, he was more concerned with pavement riders.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
11th April 2014 - 23:02

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crazy-legs wrote:
Put it into context.
Had it been a pedestrian staggering out into the street "the wrong way", you wouldn't be calling for better pavements

Actually, I might. Depending entirely on the context. The pavement might be too narrow or have parking bays on it, and the speed limit might be too high for a residential street. Or it might be a road that shouldn't have car traffic on it at all.

Pedestrians shouldn't be punished with death for minor mistakes any more than cyclists should.

Regardless of who makes the mistake, its all ultimately down to the presence of motorised vehicles, which is why we ought to do more to minimise that presence in areas where people tend to be.

A driver doing the same is of course a totally different thing, because they endanger others when drunk, not just themselves. That's why we have a blood-alcohol limit for them and not for pedestrians or even cyclists. So I don't know why you bring that in.

Edit - I don't have any particular opinion on this particular case (other than its a very sad event, obviously).

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [631 posts]
11th April 2014 - 23:20

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Northstar, You've completely lost me, I'm afraid. I have, quite seriously not being awkward, not being difficult, simply no idea what point you are trying to make with regard to this story.

I'm going to guess anyway. You think that riding the wrong way up a one way street is generally safe. I tend to agree and I think that's true of most minor breaches of the road rules by cyclists.

However, in this case, the sequence is important. This poor bloke rode the wrong way up a one-way street, thus putting himself in a position where the bus driver simply would not expect to see anyone, and, from the description of his sudden appearance in the CCTV, travelling fast enough that the driver had no chance to brake enough to mitigate the collision.

I used to ride through this junction twice a day. I have a fairly casual attitude to the road rules, but this is somewhere I used to stick to the letter of them, because it's a badly-laid-out clusterfuck. You simply do not want to do anything unpredictable and add to everyone's cognitive overload.

John Stevenson's picture

posted by John Stevenson [970 posts]
11th April 2014 - 23:50

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You'll never stop all the people shuffling off this mortal coil in stupid ways. I'm sure in this case the hubris of youth had something to do with it, as I'm sure the alcohol fizzing in his veins did too. If you did find a way to smother us all in cotton wool you'd find this a very dull place to live. Part of the joy in life is having a choice to pit yourself against the vagaries of life.

Not sure why people cannot accept rider error in this case (and in others). But I'm really beyond caring.

And finally.....not that I've never ridden the wrong way up a one-way street, but it's not advisable or legal....end of.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1082 posts]
11th April 2014 - 23:59

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John Stevenson wrote:
Northstar, You've completely lost me, I'm afraid. I have, quite seriously not being awkward, not being difficult, simply no idea what point you are trying to make with regard to this story.

I'm going to guess anyway. You think that riding the wrong way up a one way street is generally safe. I tend to agree and I think that's true of most minor breaches of the road rules by cyclists.

However, in this case, the sequence is important. This poor bloke rode the wrong way up a one-way street, thus putting himself in a position where the bus driver simply would not expect to see anyone, and, from the description of his sudden appearance in the CCTV, travelling fast enough that the driver had no chance to brake enough to mitigate the collision.

I used to ride through this junction twice a day. I have a fairly casual attitude to the road rules, but this is somewhere I used to stick to the letter of them, because it's a badly-laid-out clusterfuck. You simply do not want to do anything unpredictable and add to everyone's cognitive overload.

Fair enough, thanks for typing all that out, it's appreciated and i do see where you are coming from about it being unexpected and it being a clusterfuck.

I'm pretty casual to most of the highway code when it comes to riding tbh though I know my limits as do you and most, enjoy your riding anyway, just sad this person lost their life : (

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
12th April 2014 - 0:06

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John Donne said it best:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Stevenson's picture

posted by John Stevenson [970 posts]
12th April 2014 - 0:22

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Woah, what happened to the Northstar who could start an argument in an empty room?

You must be getting old mate Laughing

posted by bikebot [449 posts]
12th April 2014 - 7:42

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Quote:
rich22222 wrote:
Shame that there was nowhere safe for him to ride.
Quote:

I assume you're joking? There's also nowhere safe to drive while drunk - just don't do it! He paid the ultimate price for making the decision to ride drunk but that decision was his and his alone.

No I'm not joking. There is a reason there isn't a drink-ride limit, same as there isn't a drink-walk limit.
Have you never walked home drunk? Maybe you haven't, but a lot of people do every day.
To everyone saying "Get a cab" - no, cabs are never the answer.

We are a species of people, not cars, let's get our priorities right.

@rich22222

posted by rich22222 [106 posts]
12th April 2014 - 8:53

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bikebot wrote:
Woah, what happened to the Northstar who could start an argument in an empty room?

You must be getting old mate Laughing

Hah, you mean start a "argument" with fuckwits perhaps.... ; )

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
12th April 2014 - 9:11

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Back in 1998 or 99 I went out drinking and cycled the 4 mikes home, and clipped a wooden post on a cycle path and fell off, sustaining a few cuts and bruises. Luckily my lovely XT equipped Kawasaki green Specialised FSR survived unscathed.

I must have been pretty seriously munted that night - the following morning I was sitting in the bath and threw up in it.

At the time I put it down to the folly of youth, and in quieter and more contemplative moments perhaps attributed the drinking to an attempt to anaesthetise the still raw pain of a traumatic relationship breakup and significant family problems earlier on.

In retrospect it's clear that unsafe infrastructure was entirely to blame - yes, I was horribly pissed, and yes, I rode that cycle path every day and knew pretty much every bump and ripple on it, and indeed swerved past the same wooden post daily, and yes, it was dark, although I had lights, but I now see that all of that is irrelevant. If the post wasn't there, I'd not have fallen off and wouldn't have this little anecdote today.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
12th April 2014 - 9:21

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northstar wrote:
"He was hit by a 205 double decker bus at about 11.30pm after riding the wrong way up Leman Street"

I expect this of the the trash that is the ES but a cycling website using the "wrong way" when no such thing exists for riders...

You sure you read the article? The actual quote is "He was hit by a 205 double decker bus at about 11.30pm riding the wrong way up Leman Street, A ONE-WAY STREET leading to Whitechapel High Street".

In order to be given equal respect, cyclists need to follow the same vehicular laws as everyone else. My sympathies for the deceased, his family and the bus driver but am not surprised at the result of cycling drunk against the traffic flow.

posted by Gordy748 [74 posts]
12th April 2014 - 9:31

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Are you sure you aren't just another reactionary like all the rest talking about nothing they know little about...

I couldn't give a toss about "gaining the respect" of people i have nothing in common with, what a funny thing to want.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
12th April 2014 - 9:36

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allez neg wrote:
Back in 1998 or 99 I went out drinking and cycled the 4 mikes home, and clipped a wooden post on a cycle path and fell off, sustaining a few cuts and bruises. Luckily my lovely XT equipped Kawasaki green Specialised FSR survived unscathed.

I must have been pretty seriously munted that night - the following morning I was sitting in the bath and threw up in it.

At the time I put it down to the folly of youth, and in quieter and more contemplative moments perhaps attributed the drinking to an attempt to anaesthetise the still raw pain of a traumatic relationship breakup and significant family problems earlier on.

In retrospect it's clear that unsafe infrastructure was entirely to blame - yes, I was horribly pissed, and yes, I rode that cycle path every day and knew pretty much every bump and ripple on it, and indeed swerved past the same wooden post daily, and yes, it was dark, although I had lights, but I now see that all of that is irrelevant. If the post wasn't there, I'd not have fallen off and wouldn't have this little anecdote today.

Yes, lets say instead of you not having that nice off road path (with that evil post), but an inhospitable street which you shared with buses and cabs, what would have happened to you then?

@rich22222

posted by rich22222 [106 posts]
12th April 2014 - 10:17

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Gordy748 wrote:
northstar wrote:
"He was hit by a 205 double decker bus at about 11.30pm after riding the wrong way up Leman Street"

I expect this of the the trash that is the ES but a cycling website using the "wrong way" when no such thing exists for riders...

You sure you read the article? The actual quote is "He was hit by a 205 double decker bus at about 11.30pm riding the wrong way up Leman Street, A ONE-WAY STREET leading to Whitechapel High Street".

In order to be given equal respect, cyclists need to follow the same vehicular laws as everyone else. My sympathies for the deceased, his family and the bus driver but am not surprised at the result of cycling drunk against the traffic flow.

You had to go and spoil an otherwise reasonable comment by putting in the nonsense about 'respect'!

This poor fellow made a bad decision while under the influence, and died as a result. Maybe better road and traffic design might have saved him from the worst consequences of that error, maybe not - maybe it was just down to inevitable human imperfections and would have happened even in a place with an ideal transport policy (I don't feel inclined to study the incident in detail).

Fictional hive-mind cyclist collectives 'earning respect' really has nothing to do with it.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [631 posts]
12th April 2014 - 18:59

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Cycling drunk: strike one. Cycling contra-flow: strike two. Not seeing/avoiding an oncoming bus: strike three. How much **** can you ask for and still hope to get away with it?

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

jmaccelari's picture

posted by jmaccelari [142 posts]
13th April 2014 - 7:56

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Being ignorant: all three.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
13th April 2014 - 8:43

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jmaccelari wrote:
Cycling drunk: strike one. Cycling contra-flow: strike two. Not seeing/avoiding an oncoming bus: strike three. How much **** can you ask for and still hope to get away with it?

Hmmm, though the last photo on this page

http://www.visionzerolondon.org/2014/04/victim-blaming-again-and-again.html

Does give a clue as to why the guy failed to spot the oncoming bus.
Who decided to put that advertising stand there? Seems rather a stupid place to put it. I thought pavements were for walking on, not for advertising on?

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [631 posts]
21st April 2014 - 18:37

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John Stevenson wrote:
John Donne said it best:

No man is an island.....

[[[[[ Quite right----he's a peninsular.
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [268 posts]
21st April 2014 - 20:53

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