Guernsey judge criticises road layout as lorry driver acquitted of causing cyclist's death

David Allison lost his life in April last year when lorry turned across his path

by Simon_MacMichael   July 23, 2014  

Justice (Lonpicman, Wikimedia Commons)

A judge in Guernsey has criticised the layout of a road and cycle path where a bike rider was killed in a collision with a lorry in April last year.

David Allison, aged 59 was riding on a shared-use footpath at Salerie Corner, St Peter Port, when a lorry turned into an entrance. The cyclist braked, but was thrown underneath the vehicle.

This week, lorry driver Nigel Simon, aged 50, was acquitted of causing death by dangerous driving as well as the lesser charge of driving without due care and attention, reports BBC News Guernsey.

Summing up the case, Judge Sir Christopher Pitchers commented on "the odd configuration of carriageway where cycle path merges with footpath... [its] meaning was so obscure that policemen had to call the Environment Department for clarification of the lines."

During the trial, the prosecution claimed that the driver had failed to take account of blind spots in his mirrors prior to the fatal collision.

The court was also told that Mr Allison was travelling faster than the lorry immediately prior to the crash.

21 user comments

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Very sad story.

My reflex is to disagree with the verdict which is obviously unreasonable given that I don't know what happened, but it is hard to imagine a situation where a driver turning into an entrance hasn't done something wrong if they've hit a cyclist on a cycle path.

Guernsey isn't mapped on streetview by the looks of it. I wanted to see this infrustructure myself. I suspect Mr Allison's family should have a fairly water tight case for compensation, given the judge's comments and the verdict here. Not that this will provide much consolation for them, I'm sure.

posted by pikeamus [46 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 9:48

55 Likes

does seem very odd, HGV driving along I assume then turns left or right to cross the footpath to enter a yard. In doing so hits someone on the path???

Only situation I can think of is where there is something between the road and the path, a hedge, fence, something that renders the driver and cyclist blind to each other????

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1365 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 11:03

36 Likes

I worry that judges seem to allow labrador brained drivers so much leeway. Surely Mr Allison would have been visible on the driver's approach. The driver moving so as to put Mr Allison in his blind spot does not mean that he ceases to be on the path. Would the judiciary please grow some and start givng victims and their families some justice.

posted by matttheaudit [51 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 11:11

42 Likes

Have a look at this to get an idea of the layout path, about 2:40 in - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b049dtvm/bbc-channel-islands-news-2...

I use the path pretty much every day, but exit onto the road before this junction because of the number near misses I've had over the years at at this junction and the preceding one.

posted by Capt Caveman [6 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 11:16

37 Likes

It was a jury that acquitted, not the judge. Though presumably the judge has some input in giving direction.
Not that it alters the basic problem - people invariably identify with drivers and not cyclists.

posted by racyrich [152 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 11:29

42 Likes

they expect the cyclist to give way...

rule 206 only states this for pedestrians and cyclists at junctions:

"turning at road junctions; give way to pedestrians who are already crossing the road into which you are turning"

Until we get cycle paths that continue across side streets with priority, we will continue to get these rubbish decisions

posted by Paul_C [260 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 11:51

59 Likes

Paul_C wrote:
they expect the cyclist to give way...

Given the size of a truck I'd give way. Wouldn't you?

posted by truffy [532 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 12:10

29 Likes

How on earth can the truck driver be aquitted of killing someone on a pavement? The law is indeed an ass... wonder if that had been a pedestrian or a child in a pram the verdict would have been different?

posted by McDuff73 [71 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 12:25

49 Likes

truffy wrote:
Paul_C wrote:
they expect the cyclist to give way...

Given the size of a truck I'd give way. Wouldn't you?

Yes you, and I, probably would. I can't see how that excuses killing someone who doesn't give way - are we really saying it's fine to kill someone for, at most, a minor traffic violation? Does that mean I can go and shoot the next guy speeding through our village? Or does it only work if I drive a truck over him?

posted by oldstrath [207 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 12:39

37 Likes

mrmo wrote:
Only situation I can think of is where there is something between the road and the path, a hedge, fence, something that renders the driver and cyclist blind to each other????

...and there are a surprising number of junctions laid out like that, all over the UK. I come down off the cycle path over the Avonmouth Bridge (M5), going toward Shirehampton, and the end of the path (which is, as you can imagine, quite a steep slope) goes out onto a footpath (not shared use), and a road that I need to cross to the island at the middle of, then to turn right to go toward Bristol.

Streetview at https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.495924,-2.684582,3a,75y,180h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sLbpVf33Rc_zIRw6dtN83qg!2e0

The exit from the cycle path is now almost completely obscured by greenery, so that you have to come to a complete stop and then ease v-e-r-y slowly out, to check you're not going to hit a pedestrian or get hit by a pavement cyclist.

posted by brooksby [210 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 13:47

38 Likes

McDuff73 wrote:
How on earth can the truck driver be aquitted of killing someone on a pavement? The law is indeed an ass... wonder if that had been a pedestrian or a child in a pram the verdict would have been different?

Too many motorists don't see a cycle path or a cycle lane as a "real" lane of traffic.

And - admitting you have a massive blind spot which didn't allow you to see the cyclist, is surely an admission of guilt rather than a mitigating circumstance??

posted by brooksby [210 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 13:49

41 Likes

Capt Caveman wrote:
Have a look at this to get an idea of the layout path, about 2:40 in - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b049dtvm/bbc-channel-islands-news-2...

I use the path pretty much every day, but exit onto the road before this junction because of the number near misses I've had over the years at at this junction and the preceding one.

Looks like the typical problem with this sort of path: there is no indication of who has priority. I would assume that as trucks/cars/whatever have to cross the shared use path then anybody on the path would have priority, just like where a minor road crosses a major road.

My opinion is that this sort of infrastructure is the wrong approach and that in urban environments the primary solution should be safe integration of road users rather than this sort of segregation.

posted by Matt eaton [498 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 14:42

48 Likes

brooksby wrote:
McDuff73 wrote:
How on earth can the truck driver be aquitted of killing someone on a pavement? The law is indeed an ass... wonder if that had been a pedestrian or a child in a pram the verdict would have been different?

Too many motorists don't see a cycle path or a cycle lane as a "real" lane of traffic.

And - admitting you have a massive blind spot which didn't allow you to see the cyclist, is surely an admission of guilt rather than a mitigating circumstance??

Most cycle lanes & paths in England at least are not mandatory, so advisory only. I.e. not a real lane! Needs to have a solid line for legal standing.

Blind spots should mean more care needs to be taken, but the practice with the courts seems to be that it's a mitigating factor... which is nonsense of course Sad

posted by jacknorell [577 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 14:43

35 Likes

brooksby wrote:
McDuff73 wrote:
How on earth can the truck driver be aquitted of killing someone on a pavement? The law is indeed an ass... wonder if that had been a pedestrian or a child in a pram the verdict would have been different?

Too many motorists don't see a cycle path or a cycle lane as a "real" lane of traffic.

And - admitting you have a massive blind spot which didn't allow you to see the cyclist, is surely an admission of guilt rather than a mitigating circumstance??

I totally agree, how often to we hear that in defence of a driver, "I didn't see them". How thats not admitting your guilt I really don't know. Yeah driving your ton of metal box into a space that you can't see is totally fine isn't it. That's why drivers kill and serious injury thousands of people a year.

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posted by Housecathst [96 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 14:47

34 Likes

oldstrath wrote:
truffy wrote:
Paul_C wrote:
they expect the cyclist to give way...

Given the size of a truck I'd give way. Wouldn't you?

Yes you, and I, probably would. I can't see how that excuses killing someone who doesn't give way - are we really saying it's fine to kill someone for, at most, a minor traffic violation? Does that mean I can go and shoot the next guy speeding through our village? Or does it only work if I drive a truck over him?

I didn't say, or mean to imply, that it does excuse killing someone who doesn't give way. Simply that the wise cyclist assumes total responsibility for their safety to be on the safe side. There are a lot of idiots out there who're well-protected by their vehicle and are not going to come of worst in a collision. Being in the right is no consolation if you're critically injured (or to your loved ones if worse).

posted by truffy [532 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 15:36

43 Likes

truffy wrote:
oldstrath wrote:
truffy wrote:
Paul_C wrote:
they expect the cyclist to give way...

Given the size of a truck I'd give way. Wouldn't you?

Yes you, and I, probably would. I can't see how that excuses killing someone who doesn't give way - are we really saying it's fine to kill someone for, at most, a minor traffic violation? Does that mean I can go and shoot the next guy speeding through our village? Or does it only work if I drive a truck over him?

I didn't say, or mean to imply, that it does excuse killing someone who doesn't give way. Simply that the wise cyclist assumes total responsibility for their safety to be on the safe side. There are a lot of idiots out there who're well-protected by their vehicle and are not going to come of worst in a collision. Being in the right is no consolation if you're critically injured (or to your loved ones if worse).

What's the point in saying that though?

The only way to truly be on the safe-side and take total responsibility for all possible risk is to not cycle. Or even not go out-doors at all other than in a tank. Is that your approach? Or do you, in fact, NOT take total 100% responsibility for your own safety but instead expect the rest of the world to take at least some measure of care as well?

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [751 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 16:34

35 Likes

Cool

truffy wrote:
oldstrath wrote:
truffy wrote:
Paul_C wrote:
they expect the cyclist to give way...

Given the size of a truck I'd give way. Wouldn't you?

Yes you, and I, probably would. I can't see how that excuses killing someone who doesn't give way - are we really saying it's fine to kill someone for, at most, a minor traffic violation? Does that mean I can go and shoot the next guy speeding through our village? Or does it only work if I drive a truck over him?

I didn't say, or mean to imply, that it does excuse killing someone who doesn't give way. Simply that the wise cyclist assumes total responsibility for their safety to be on the safe side. There are a lot of idiots out there who're well-protected by their vehicle and are not going to come of worst in a collision. Being in the right is no consolation if you're critically injured (or to your loved ones if worse).

I can't take "total responsibility" without hiding away from every driver, pedestrian and errant animal out there. I should, though, be able to expect the legal system to offer me some degree of protection from blind or cretinous drivers. But apparently not.

posted by oldstrath [207 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 20:15

29 Likes

Does Guensey have the equivalent of Section 39 RTA? This is a fatal crash. What does the States of Guernsey do by way of investigating crashes and identifying road hazards (risks)?

Given the reports from other users that this is a dangerous arrangement of cycle path, footway and roads it would also be interesting to know what the safety audit process is for the roads department as well.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [504 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 23:58

23 Likes

If we were talking about a truck that turned accross a nearside bus lane into the path of a bus there would be no question who was at fault. I don't see how this road configuration is any different but the verdict seems completly contrary to what we would expect.

posted by Matt eaton [498 posts]
24th July 2014 - 7:44

14 Likes

No equivalent piece of legislation to Section 39 I'm afraid.

Immediately after the event signage was improved, although only by installing a couple of no entry signs on the road side entrance and a written warning on the exit road advising motorists to look out for cyclists and pedestrians, but the recently reshuffled Environment Department (now pro-bike) haven't announced any plans to change the layout as yet.

posted by Capt Caveman [6 posts]
24th July 2014 - 11:36

2 Likes

truffy wrote:

Being in the right is no consolation if you're critically injured

Am I the only one who is utterly sick of this kind of 'argument' being used to shift blame on to a victim? I can't be the only one, surely ...

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [325 posts]
24th July 2014 - 12:21

14 Likes