A coroner has urged Transport for London (TfL) to make short- and long-term improvements to the junction of Denmark Hill and Orpheus Street where cyclist Esther Hartsilver was hit by a Co-op lorry on May 28, 2015. The inquest was told that TfL had twice rejected council upgrade plans for the junction.
Hartsilver was in a bus lane as truck driver Philip Beadle turned left off Denmark Hill, and suffered multiple injuries when she went under the wheels of his lorry. Beadle was found not guilty of causing her death by careless driving.
The London Evening Standard reports that Beadle this week told an inquest at Southwark coroner’s court that the junction was “an accident waiting to happen.”
“The road network of London roads is so close-knit anyway, with everybody trying to get to one place. To get junctions that you come into conflict, even more so. They shouldn’t be there.”
After hearing that a proposed £2m safety upgrade for Denmark Hill did not include Orpheus Street – despite Met police concerns about its danger – coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe urged the council and TfL to make improvements.
Road layouts were also criticised by Duncan Bew, the head of trauma surgery at King’s College hospital, who had fought to keep his colleague alive.
“This is a corporate problem for the council and TfL and the Mayor to address. It’s awful that individuals are dying because of poor planning.
“If people are stalling on political decisions or financial decisions around the redistribution of road space – that people have known for a long time has been poorly set out and there is still a continuing risk – there is a moral obligation to do something about it.”
Citing Hartsilver’s experience and competence as a cyclist, Bew said that her death demonstrated just how important a factor road planning, design and public safety was.
“Without genuine commitment to safety and the prevention of accidents even the most conscientious and cautious cyclists are risking their lives every day on our roads.
“We will continue to push the extreme boundaries of medicine in our trauma networks but the answer has to be in prevention in the planning and design of our roads and the public awareness of their attention to safe driving and the danger they pose otherwise to others.”
Hartsilver’s family have previously said that they believe too little is being done to improve London's roads.
Her sister, Emma, said: “Our concern the whole time has been road safety and whether enough is being done on dangerous roads like the one where Esther was killed to make them safer for cyclists.
“It’s been over a year since Esther was killed and it seems nothing has been done to make the junction where she was killed safer. No one has taken responsibility.
“Other cyclists have also died across London since. There have been so many accidents and it seems much more needs to be done to protect cyclists.”