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Truck driver involved says road layout was “an accident waiting to happen”

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.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

16 comments

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Grahamd [545 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

If only the coroner was empowered...

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davel [1499 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes

“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.”

I can't see where his quote comes from, and it doesn't make much sense, but it'd be interesting to know what shouldn't be there, according to the driver.

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psling [252 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes

"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.”

 

Which beggars the question why the hell didn't he give it more care then.

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A2thaJ [68 posts] 6 months ago
4 likes

 Strongly agree with this bit....

 

"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.”

 

 The shift needs to go from victim blaming to people who can cause the most harm... a motorist, acknowldging, respecting and mitigating against the danger they pose to the more vulnerable.

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beezus fufoon [673 posts] 6 months ago
1 like
davel wrote:

“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.”

I can't see where his quote comes from, and it doesn't make much sense, but it'd be interesting to know what shouldn't be there, according to the driver.

I think he is suggesting that what consitutes a major junction for traffic coming off motorways should not also be a major junction for cycle routes

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Paul_C [500 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes
Grahamd wrote:

If only the coroner was empowered...

the Coroner has the power to Issue a Prevention of Future Death report on the relevant authority(ies) whereupon, they have to reply with what measures they will take to prevent future deaths... sadly, too many Coroners either don't file these reports or just meekly accept whatever wishy washy reply is made...

https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/related-offices-and-bodies/office-chief-cor...

https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/subject/road-highways-safety-related-deaths/

as you can see, very few are being issued for road related deaths...

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Ush [932 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes

Does anyone have a schematic/map/photo highlighting the accident site?  

I am wondering is this another case of bicycle infrastructure luring cyclists out of safe primary positions and into the dangerous gutter/kerb/curb position.

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zanf [932 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes
Ush wrote:

Does anyone have a schematic/map/photo highlighting the accident site?  

I am wondering is this another case of bicycle infrastructure luring cyclists out of safe primary positions and into the dangerous gutter/kerb/curb position.

this is the location on GMaps

Its a tight 90º turn with a signal post & a 'bell' right on it so begs the question of how did the driver turn into it?

I'm not casting any aspersions or victim blaming but did the cyclist ride up the inside of the lorry, or did he, as I have seen enough times, pass her then sweep right before cutting hard left, or even sit half on the right hand lane to make the turn?

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Grahamd [545 posts] 6 months ago
1 like
Paul_C][quote=Grahamd wrote:

If only the coroner was empowered...

the Coroner has the power to Issue a Prevention of Future Death report on the relevant authority(ies) whereupon, they have to reply with what measures they will take to prevent future deaths... sadly, too many Coroners either don't file these reports or just meekly accept whatever wishy washy reply is made... https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/related-offices-and-bodies/office-chief-cor... https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/subject/road-highways-safety-related-deaths/ as you can see, very few are being issued for road related deaths...[/quotes 

Thanks

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bornslippy [16 posts] 6 months ago
1 like
zanf wrote:
Ush wrote:

Does anyone have a schematic/map/photo highlighting the accident site?  

I am wondering is this another case of bicycle infrastructure luring cyclists out of safe primary positions and into the dangerous gutter/kerb/curb position.

this is the location on GMaps

Its a tight 90º turn with a signal post & a 'bell' right on it so begs the question of how did the driver turn into it?

I'm not casting any aspersions or victim blaming but did the cyclist ride up the inside of the lorry, or did he, as I have seen enough times, pass her then sweep right before cutting hard left, or even sit half on the right hand lane to make the turn?

Looking at the other article on this incident a few months back it looks like it was a case of the lorry was turning left across the bus lane and *didn't see* the cyclist.  As such, I'm not convinced that this junction is particularly unusual. All over the country there are bus or cycles lanes which vehicles need to turn left across. Some have a temporary break in the cycle/bus lane across the junction and a give-way road markings which possibly puts more of an onus on the cyclists but that doesn't deal with the issue of drivers ignoring what is or may be in the lane inside them, in this case with fatal consequences.

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arfa [849 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

If you scroll back a bit on gmaps it looks like there is an insane junction structuring,

no right turn and buses must turn left to turn right (according to the signpost).

I don't know the area but it lloks like a crazy design and streetview seems to be showing alot of buses/lorries in the vicinity

 

 

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atgni [429 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

That junction look very similar to lots and lots in towns and cities across the county. The bus lane doesn't continue across the crossing and junction, so is any vehicle other than a bus not both changing lane and turning. Difficult to see quite what they are saying about 'accident waiting happen' as that appears to be fundamentally a nationwide standard design.

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zanf [932 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes
arfa wrote:

If you scroll back a bit on gmaps it looks like there is an insane junction structuring,

no right turn and buses must turn left to turn right (according to the signpost).

I don't know the area but it lloks like a crazy design and streetview seems to be showing alot of buses/lorries in the vicinity

I live down the road near the Oval and I avoid going through that area at all if I can. I used to see a friend in Brockley would cross that road a bit further down to head through Peckham, which used to scare the bejebus.

Going up the hill towards the hospital(s) is horrendous. Its a busy shopping area yet people try driving through there as though its a dual carriageway.

This video will give you a bit of an idea. The guy is turning left onto Denmark Hill from Peckham Road, and the junction where the cyclist was killed is at 9.07.

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DaveE128 [885 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

I'm struggling to understand what the particular danger at this junction is and how the incident occurred, and that really bothers me, as how will I avoid a similar fate if I don't understand what happened?  2 I'm not after gory details, I just want to know what the vehicle movements involved were.

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wycombewheeler [1100 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes
zanf wrote:
Ush wrote:

Does anyone have a schematic/map/photo highlighting the accident site?  

I am wondering is this another case of bicycle infrastructure luring cyclists out of safe primary positions and into the dangerous gutter/kerb/curb position.

this is the location on GMaps

Its a tight 90º turn with a signal post & a 'bell' right on it so begs the question of how did the driver turn into it?

I'm not casting any aspersions or victim blaming but did the cyclist ride up the inside of the lorry, or did he, as I have seen enough times, pass her then sweep right before cutting hard left, or even sit half on the right hand lane to make the turn?

As I recall the drive was stopped at the lights, and the cylist was using the bus lane, this is not a case of the cylist squeezing up a small gap, she had an entire lane empty for her use, by the drives own testimon he started indicating for the loeft turn as he pulled away when the lights went green, presumably he knew when he stopped where he was going, why the hell not indicate while stationary perhaps she would not have gone into the blind spot. He had every chance to warn of his intention and also to monitor anyone moving into his blind spot but chose not to.

That the jusry think this is driving of an acceptable standard fills me with despair.

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Awavey [310 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Im not sure the driver did know where he was going though, as I thought he'd been quoted as saying it was his first time having to drive that particular route, and when you are expecting to make a right turn at a main junction, but your sat nav is telling you no you need to turn left now, you wont know, especially in London if the sat nav is telling you the correct route or is just trying to send you down a road you wont get out of in a lorry, until the signage reinforces that no theres absolutely no right turn allowed from Denmark Hill onto Coldharbour Lane, and you have to take the dog leg left turn onto Orpheus Street to make that right turn

now I dont know if its national standard solution or not, its a common "fix" to junctions where queueing turn right traffic causes congestion to traffic simply passing across the same junction but Orpheus Street doesnt in anyway really look that suitable for lorries/HGVs to use, even more so as it pushes them into direct conflict with that bus lane that cyclists will be using when the lorry makes the turn.