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

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.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

40 comments

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mrmo [2093 posts] 2 years ago
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So the cyclist was pissed, not paying attention etc, but, and I have seen this a few times*, all that road furniture that exists to help may actually have contributed to the accident!

*Signs that have been knocked, traffic light with no bulbs working, signs that conflict with the physical junction, traffic lights that are pointing in the wrong direction. Throw in amber gambling when the red/green light has failed...

Nice to see the helmet defence thrown out as well.

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rich22222 [165 posts] 2 years ago
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Shame that there was nowhere safe for him to ride.

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userfriendly [584 posts] 2 years ago
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All good points, but no excuse to ride your bike in traffic while drunk. Get a cab if you don't have someone else to get you home safely.

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Paul_C [481 posts] 2 years ago
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proper infrastructure would have kept him safely away from that bus... there is NO excuse...

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AyBee [85 posts] 2 years ago
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rich22222 wrote:

Shame that there was nowhere safe for him to ride.

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.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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"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...

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oozaveared [945 posts] 2 years ago
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Look I normally get irritated when excuses are made for errant motorists.

I feel sorry for the guy's family but he took a vehicle on the road whilst he was pissed. Not a little bit tipsy. But nearly twice over the limit.

In this case apart from his family I also feel sorry for the bus driver. How many nights does he have that picture in his head.

I happen tyo think that cycling is pretty safe if you pay attention. Being twice over the limit makes it a lot more dangerous.

Just being a cyclist should not get you a free pass on justified criticism.

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bikebot [2149 posts] 2 years ago
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northstar wrote:

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...

An inquest isn't concerned with just the letter of the law, it will report and make recommendations on the grounds of safety. Riding towards a bus on a one way street is obviously not a safe thing to do.

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John Stevenson [255 posts] 2 years ago
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If I have that wrong I will happily amend it.

Could you please cite legislation, the Highway Code etc that allows cyclists to ride the 'wrong way' on one-way streets?

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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You and I both know there is no such legislation but having ridden the "wrong way" up a quiet residential street in front of a police officer i can assure you nothing will come of adjusting the wording.

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goggy [153 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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goggy [153 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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No it isn't, it's perfectly safe, next?

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oozaveared [945 posts] 2 years ago
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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/

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oozaveared [945 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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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?

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crazy-legs [811 posts] 2 years ago
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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.  2

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

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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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).

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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ajmarshal1 [417 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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oozaveared [945 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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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?

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1350 posts] 2 years ago
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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).

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John Stevenson [255 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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Colin Peyresourde [1773 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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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 : (

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John Stevenson [255 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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bikebot [2149 posts] 2 years ago
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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  21

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rich22222 [165 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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