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Tanker driver acquitted on careless driving charge after telling court he did check his mirrors

A London cyclist has told a court how he believed he was going to die when he was dragged beneath a petrol tanker as he cycled home from work. The incident happened in Leytonstone last May as James Moore, aged 40, was riding home to Wood Green from his job at the Independent newspaper, reports the London Evening Standard.

Mr Moore suffered broken bones including his left tibia and fibia, his pelvis and a number of ribs as well as a collapsed lung. He spent three weeks in a medically induced coma and three months in total in hospital, and needs a wheelchair and crutches to get around.

Giving evidence at Waltham Forest Magistrates’ Court where the tanker driver, Nigel Gummer, faced a charge relating to careless driving, Mr Moore gave his recollection of the incident. CCTV footage of the incident, which took place at the junction of Leytonstone High Road and Cathall Road was also shown.

"I do remember quite clearly cycling along past the junction,” Mr Moore said. “Suddenly, without any warning I could see, the lorry turned on me.

"I remember screaming 'Stop, stop', I think, and I think I'm going to die. Then I can remember being under the lorry and in considerable pain.

"I'm reliving it now. I wake up in the middle of the night. I generally have to sleep with the television on. An empty room in the dark is not good for me."

Collision investigator PC Clive Austin told magistrates that it would have been possible for Mr Gummer, who was waiting at the junction, to see Mr Gummer in a rear view mirror for a minimum of 12 seconds as he approached from behind, riding along a cycle lane.

The front of the lorry, which was indicating a left turn, was inside the Advanced Stop Line box and the cyclist drew alongside its front axle of the lorry just as it began pulling away. He tried to ride straight on but was dragged underneath.

PC Austin added that although it was Mr Moore who had the right of way under the Highway Code, it would have been "a pertinent move" for him to have exercised some level of caution".

Mr Gummer, who had a clean driving record and had worked as an HGV driver for more than 30 years, was acquitted of careless driving after maintaining that he had checked his mirrors before moving away from the junction.

The Standard reported that Mr Moore is now seeking compensation from the insurers of the tanker company through the civil courts.

He has also said that lorries should be equipped with sensors to warn their drivers when vulnerable road users such as cyclists are alongside. "If it saves lives, and saves people being put in the same position as me, it's a damn good thing."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

34 comments

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elyobelyob [11 posts] 4 years ago
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What was he thinking putting himself into dangers way?

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velobetty [71 posts] 4 years ago
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If it was the case that the HGV driver had stopped inside the ASL box then I believe it should be treated very seriously. Although Mr Moore could maybe have stopped further up the road (I don't have the details about road conditions so can't comment) the absolute lack of respect for ASLs cause incredibly dangerous situations every day.

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A V Lowe [575 posts] 4 years ago
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Sadly I conclude that this cyclist was very much the architect for his unfortunate crash. Riding up inside a truck stopped at lights indicating left and then not reacting to the fact that the lights changed as he drew alongside, in a blind spot (the vertical convex mirror over the n/s door gives a distorted image and it is very likely that only the rear wheel would have been in view if the driver checked before moving off). When I assess the potential of such a hazard I make damn sure I've clocked the truck driver and got an acknowledging nod in return.

My sympathy is with the truck driver for having the angst of being the delivery agent for such injuries. Check out the very convincing set of TfL safety videos (staged) of the view from the driving cab and that from a cyclist who sensibly stays behind whilst the victim does almost exactly the same move - cycling up inside a truck indicating left and stopped at lights - it even shows the view the driver gets from the n/s mirrors.

Google's images show a change in the road markings but if a feeder lane was in place there may be a case to answer by the roads authority for inviting cyclists to ride up the inside of the traffic queue at the lights, especially as the footway had been built out to deliver a 6 metre radius for the corner - so that trucks would not need to slow/pull right to turn left. By doing this the traffic signals are now placed well back from the turning, which again enhances the risk of a cyclist being overtaken and left hooked by traffic.

Street view shows a Midi Bus in the lane at the ASL - it is I suspect 2.4m wide, a truck is 2.55m wide so the gap between kerb and truck would be tight to cycle through.

This should highlight the clear importance of making really sure what other road users intentions are when placing yourself in a potentially hazardous situation.

Eye Contact - the only contact you want to make with another road user

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Spofferoonie [43 posts] 4 years ago
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I only commute occasionally now but, a few years ago, a lorry overtook me and, while he was still alongside me, pulled into the kerb. I had nowhere to go but to fall onto the pavement. Still can't believe it because he must've seen me to overtake me.

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Coleman [335 posts] 4 years ago
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The driver should be nicked for ignoring the ASL. 3 points and a fine. Plod's refusal to enforce ASL laws means many drivers ignore them. Bike boxes are a wonderful idea, it's such a shame doesn't appear to think so.

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notfastenough [3684 posts] 4 years ago
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My sympathies go out to both parties, but I can't help thinking that the cyclist has to take the lion's share of the responsibility. I'm as much a fan of ASLs as the next rider, but we need to assume the worst when we're out there in order to stay safe. Stay upright everyone.

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warton [23 posts] 4 years ago
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Tragic story, and the driver of the HGV obviously shouldn't have been in the ASL, but to undertake an HGV indicating left is madness...

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Bez [593 posts] 4 years ago
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Without wishing to make specific references to this case...

ASLs and their feeder lanes are evil, dangerous things. They encourage the idea that sneaking up the inside of traffic and getting in front of it is a good idea (IME it's not - it's a great way to irritate people and/or have an accident), leading cyclists into precisely this scenario solely on the promise of being able to pass a few cars - pointlessly so, since most of them are simply going to repass within a few moments anyway.

I've never really figured out quite what is wrong with waiting your turn when you're on two wheels - nipping past slow-moving traffic seems rooted in the same "must keep moving" psychology of impatience that causes motorists to pass too closely when the flow is up to speed. Nipping round a vehicle that you're certain won't move is one thing, but with every vehicle you pass you have to keep evaluating how likely things are to start up again, and you have to assume that drivers aren't expecting a bicycle to appear alongside them: I'm afraid it's human nature to neglect your mirrors somewhat when stuck in stationary traffic.

ASLs and feeder lanes simply serve to put cyclists in positions where human nature makes them inherently vulnerable. The safest place is to the rear of the car in front, at its centre, occupying the lane until the traffic moves off and can safely pass - a position that ASLs and bike lanes not only offer an alternative to, but undermine in the respect that both cyclists and motorists think cyclists should be in the bike lane.

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TurboJoe [72 posts] 4 years ago
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My condolences to Mr Moore, I honestly wish him a speedy recovery and can't begin to imagine the pain / terror. But......

Don't go down the f***ing left of a lorry or bus. EVER.

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 4 years ago
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There are various firms supplying sensors that would have prevented an accident like this and they aren't particularly expensive. Some haulage companies are already kitting their fleets out with them in London. It wouldn't be too hard to make them compulsory on all HGVs within a set timeframe. Perhaps financial incentives could be available to haulage firms to install them. If they were required on all HGVs within Europe it might also help tackle some of the issues regarding foreign drivers on the UK's roads, particularly those from Eastern Europe which have a terrible record for poor vehicle condition and accidents.

With regard to this accident, the truck driver was within the advanced stop area where he shouldn't have been and this surely denotes more than a degree of responsibility for the incident. The driver said he looked in the mirrors, but how carefully he checked is in question. That said, I also agree that coming up the inside of an HGV already at a junction is not advisable. Perhaps the HGV driver was late in indicating a turn, lots of drivers are. But this incident does reinforce just how wary cyclists should be around HGVs.

I feel sorry for the cyclist as this is a life-changing incident. Compulsory fitting of detection equipment on all HGVs (and buses) would save the lives of a lot of people. The issue of visibility is a serious one and I agree that making eye contact with drivers is crucial. Some vehicles, such as HGVs and vans, do have very poor all round visibility and it is important cyclists are aware of this. I've driven more than a few large vans over the years and I know from experience just how restricted the lines of sight can be.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 4 years ago
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Condolences to the injured party, sounds like some responsibility lies on both people.

I've noticed a few HGVs recently with big warning signs for cyclists on their rear nearside saying "DO NOT PASS ON THE INSIDE". Good advice.

Agree with comments about filtering through traffic, generally I think it's safer to position yourself in the line behind a car or other vehicle rather than at the front of the queue and use them as a blocker going through a junction. In a younger, more impatient time I once stupidly tried to undertake a bus on a left hand bend and had to make a very swift dismount and leap over a barrier to avoid being squished. Lesson learned

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 4 years ago
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I think ASLs are generally a good idea, but cyclists do need to be very wary indeed of coming up behind an HGV, van or bus to get into one. It's all very well saying that it's better to wait behind the traffic queue, but those tailbacks can be very long indeed and I don't think it's practical to expect everyone to do so. Feeding past stationary vehicles does have its risks as many occupants don't think before opening a door, whether you're on the right or the left of the vehicle. I often hop the kerb to get to the front of the queue, which some people may have negative views of but if there are few pedestrians and a wide kerb I don't see the harm in doing so.

Personally I think ASLs should also be open to use by motorcyclists, who like cyclists are vulnerable road users and share quite a few of the same risks. If this was the case, I think it'd help enforce their proper use and reduce the incidence of them being crossed by cars and buses and so on, with overall benefits to cyclists in terms of safety.

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antigee [336 posts] 4 years ago
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100% agree with Bez spot on every point and worth repeating:
"ASLs and feeder lanes simply serve to put cyclists in positions where human nature makes them inherently vulnerable. The safest place is to the rear of the car in front, at its centre, occupying the lane until the traffic moves off and can safely pass - a position that ASLs and bike lanes not only offer an alternative to, but undermine in the respect that both cyclists and motorists think cyclists should be in the bike lane."

will only use a feeder lane when I judge it safe to do so, same as filtering in general - will do for long queues wide roads and use outside if appropriate - but i'd rather be part of the traffic and clearly visible and usually do as Bez says
mirrors, sensors and road markings don't make much difference
hope the guy makes a full recovery

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step-hent [722 posts] 4 years ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:

It's all very well saying that it's better to wait behind the traffic queue, but those tailbacks can be very long indeed and I don't think it's practical to expect everyone to do so.... I often hop the kerb to get to the front of the queue, which some people may have negative views of but if there are few pedestrians and a wide kerb I don't see the harm in doing so.

The problem with this approach is that it gets interpreted as the following: 'I obey the rules when they are convenient, but when they aren't I stick to my own code'. I'm sure you don't ride on the pavement when it would cause a problem, but there's still a public perception issue. It's the same with running red lights when there are no cars around - it's not the safety that is the issue, it's the perception of the general public that cyclists make up their own rules, and therefore don't deserve to be protected by the rules that everyone else is bound by.

OldRidgeback wrote:

Personally I think ASLs should also be open to use by motorcyclists, who like cyclists are vulnerable road users and share quite a few of the same risks. If this was the case, I think it'd help enforce their proper use and reduce the incidence of them being crossed by cars and buses and so on, with overall benefits to cyclists in terms of safety.

Got to say, I get quite irritated by motorcyclists blocking entry to the ASL or clogging it up meaning I can't get in, but if it was designed for use by both it probably would be much safer overall. Motorbikes generally accelerate quicker than any other traffic, so it's daft to have them sat behind the cyclists and then flying past when the lights go green. If they could design the ASLs so that they can be better shared (bigger ASLs and wider access) then they would make a lot more sense.

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fiftyacorn [89 posts] 4 years ago
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The real problem for both cyclists and lorry drivers is that we allow vehicles on the road that have significant blind spots.

These vehicles need better side and front mirrors to allow the drivers to see cyclists - better still cameras could do this task - and legislation should enforce this

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Bez [593 posts] 4 years ago
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step-hent wrote:

Motorbikes generally accelerate quicker than any other traffic, so it's daft to have them sat behind the cyclists and then flying past when the lights go green.

But where you say "motorbikes" it would be equally valid to say "motorised vehicles", whereby the statement becomes an outright indictment of ASLs. This is just one part of the reason why they are dangerous: every time the lights go red, they reshuffle the traffic so that the slowest and most vulnerable vehicles are right at the front, in the path of the fastest and least vulnerable.

Cyclists get tempted in by the feeder lane, which they think is great because it's a little bit of tarmac all to themselves when in fact it's just ghettoisation to get them out of everyone else's way, and encouraged to pass traffic in a way which would clearly be total insanity were it not for the legitimsation given by the green paint; and then they get dumped in front of tons of metal and hundreds of horsepower operated by people, who may have had a bad day at work or may be plain stupid or may simply be growing more and more annoyed by the fact that instead of having to pass these cyclists just once they're now having to pass them in between every single set of lights. (Ah, but they don't have to, you say; they could just cruise behind until the next set of lights - true, but if you're using the ASLs to get in front of them at every set of lights... pot, kettle...)

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0liver [90 posts] 4 years ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:

Personally I think ASLs should also be open to use by motorcyclists, who like cyclists are vulnerable road users and share quite a few of the same risks. If this was the case, I think it'd help enforce their proper use and reduce the incidence of them being crossed by cars and buses and so on, with overall benefits to cyclists in terms of safety.

Totally disagree. The reason ASLs are good is that they should be a safe place for cyclists to wait at lights where they are visible, hence you find me in the middle of the lane in an ASL. The danger to motorcyclists comes from people turning into them from sideroads rather than being pushed off the road at lights or elsewhere so they don't need the protection of an ASL.

The reason I have a love-hate relationship with ASLs (as a cyclist) is, as others have said, getting to them is a risky endeavour. The problem is that when you approach a red light you don't always know whether you have time to get to the ASL before the lights change. If you can ASLs are lovely. If you can't then they are dangerous if you continue to try to get there rather than trying to merge into the traffic.

It seems to me that road designers often put a straight on lane (the ASL approach cycle lane) to the left of a left turn lane. This is going to lead to conflicts. Putting it to the right doesn't help either, as you then end up with a cyclist stranded to the right of accelerating cars when the lights change (I've been there and not enjoyed it). I can't see an easy solution, ASLs are useful but require care by both motorists & cyclists.

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Bez [593 posts] 4 years ago
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0liver wrote:

The problem is that when you approach a red light you don't always know whether you have time to get to the ASL before the lights change. If you can ASLs are lovely. If you can't then they are dangerous if you continue to try to get there rather than trying to merge into the traffic.

QFT. Absolutely spot on. With the additional point that trying to merge into the traffic at that point is difficult and dangerous: it's either stationary with insufficient space between vehicles, or it's rapidly changing (everyone's moving off) and therefore extremely dangerous to merge with.

This is the worst and most dangerous aspect of the ASL. Get to the ASL itself and the problems are reduced to the fact that you're just getting passed by people who are irritated at having to repeatedly pass you. Not a massive deal in the grand scheme of things.

But get caught out on the way and you're in trouble - you're bimbling along the side in your special needs green stripe and the flow around you is changing rapidly and dramatically (ie from stationary or slower than you, to faster than you), and that change causes significant problems.

Whereas if you stay as part of the flow, assert your place in that flow, and accept that sometimes that flow stops, you don't get that sharp rise in risk - you're part of the same flow as everyone else and you all move off together with no surprises.

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georgee [162 posts] 4 years ago
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A few more people like James Moore would do us well, he's now a fantastic poster boy for what happens if you cycle like a tit and a reminder that Darwinism usually has higher consequences.

As for the driver, yes punish him for the ASL though I find careless driving a bit harsh given it was Mr Moores fault.

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Dr_Lex [301 posts] 4 years ago
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Is it not the case that vehicles can enter the ASL perfectly legally when the light is green? It becomes a bicycle-only zone when the lights change to red.

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Bez [593 posts] 4 years ago
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georgee wrote:

A few more people like James Moore would do us well, he's now a fantastic poster boy for what happens if you cycle like a tit and a reminder that Darwinism usually has higher consequences.

I think that's harsh given the important point that ASLs and feeder lanes legitimise (at least on the face of it) precisely the sort of action that Mr Moore took. If doing what he did is "cycling like a tit" then it's doing so with the endorsement of the Highway Code.

Dyed-in-the-wool cyclists recognise that riding up the inside of an HGV at the lights is madness. But less experienced road users won't; they'll see the cycle lane and the ASL and exercise their right to be there on the mistaken assumption that since that particular piece of road architecture had been designed, standardised and legislated, at least someone along the way must have said "yup, that's safe" on the basis of some form of logic and evidence rather than on the basis of being a total moron.

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crazy-legs [767 posts] 4 years ago
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As Dr_Lex says, the lorry may have been stopped in the ASL by traffic in front and got stuck there when the lights changed to red (in which case that IS legal).

Sensors on lorries - the lorry already has some sensors called indicators and as others have said, riding up ANY side of a lorry that's indicating is utter madness. They often swing out before turning in and I give lorries a massive berth if I see them indicating.

And +1 for all the Bez said as well.

That said, sympathies to the guy and I hope he recovers fully.

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outOfPhase [13 posts] 4 years ago
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Riding north over Blackfriars bridge in the rush hour, as I do daily, the ASL box is the only safe place to cross (on a red light) from the bike lane on the left, to the right hand lane to turn right up Queen Victoria Street. You can't easily cross two lanes of fast moving traffic otherwise, much of which is aggressively pulling left from the outside lane at the last moment anyway.

It seems to me that a problem with ASLs is often that cyclists at the front don't spread out across them enough. One or two arrive at front of the cycle lane and those behind are blocked in the killing zone.

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JohnS [198 posts] 4 years ago
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The truck was in an ASL, however it got there - in a place set aside for cyclists.

So the driver should have expected cyclists to be on his nearside, where the cycle marking sent them, and perhaps it might have been an idea for him to check properly - by moving across the cab and looking out of the nearside window - before setting off from this illegal position?

The court has completely ignored the illegal driving - as usual.

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Simon E [2722 posts] 4 years ago
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warton wrote:

Tragic story, and the driver of the HGV obviously shouldn't have been in the ASL, but to undertake an HGV indicating left is madness...

and if it's NOT indicating.

Bez wrote:

Cyclists get tempted in by the feeder lane, which they think is great because it's a little bit of tarmac all to themselves when in fact it's just ghettoisation to get them out of everyone else's way, and encouraged to pass traffic in a way which would clearly be total insanity were it not for the legitimsation given by the green paint;

So true (and the rest of your post, Bez).

I ignore feeder lanes, they are death traps. For "legitimisation" read "token gesture", and a waste of paint. Cycling infrastructure as dangerous and misleading as this is worse than none at all.

http://www.londonskaters.com/cycling/safety-heavy-goods-vehicles.htm

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14799.aspx

http://www.lfgss.com/thread46710-4.html

A snippet from the RoSPA fact sheet 'Cyclists and Lorries' [PDF]

"When turning left, a lorry will often pull out to the right first. This creates a wide gap on the left side between the vehicle and the kerb, which many cyclists think is safe to ride into. But in fact this is a very dangerous place to be.

As the lorry begins to turn, it will swing back to the left very close to the kerb. The gap between the kerb and the lorry will disappear in an instant.

If a lorry in front of you is waiting in a queue of stationary traffic (particularly at the approach to any junction), do not undertake it. Hang back behind the vehicle and let it move off first."

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crazy-legs [767 posts] 4 years ago
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JohnS wrote:

The truck was in an ASL, however it got there - in a place set aside for cyclists.

So the driver should have expected cyclists to be on his nearside, where the cycle marking sent them, and perhaps it might have been an idea for him to check properly - by moving across the cab and looking out of the nearside window - before setting off from this illegal position?

The court has completely ignored the illegal driving - as usual.

Or the cyclist completely ignored the warning on the back of the lorry saying "don't go up my inside" and the flashing indicator saying "I am about to turn left". It's not a clear cut case at all and I think, while such stories on this website highlight the very real dangers that cyclists face daily on the roads, there is a distinct lack of will amongst cyclists to accept that they could in any way be at fault.

If you're driving across an ASL and get stuck there by other traffic and you're subsequently trapped there by the lights changing to red, that is LEGAL. No offence has been committed. The ONLY offence is driving into the ASL while the lights are at red and to prosecute successfully on that one the officer needs to actually see you drive into it.

You could argue that, even checking mirrors, the driver might reasonably assume that no cyclist would be daft enough to go up the inside of a left turning lorry...

Part of this is playing Devil's Advocate by the way, just highlighting that it's just not worth taking the risk. I'm not saying that all drivers are blameless (cos in the vast majority of cases, they are SOLELY to blame for vehicle/cycle collisions), I just think some perspective needs to be taken.

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step-hent [722 posts] 4 years ago
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Bez wrote:
step-hent wrote:

Motorbikes generally accelerate quicker than any other traffic, so it's daft to have them sat behind the cyclists and then flying past when the lights go green.

But where you say "motorbikes" it would be equally valid to say "motorised vehicles", whereby the statement becomes an outright indictment of ASLs. This is just one part of the reason why they are dangerous: every time the lights go red, they reshuffle the traffic so that the slowest and most vulnerable vehicles are right at the front, in the path of the fastest and least vulnerable.

Actually, no - I (and most cyclists around me) generally accelerate away from the lights quicker than cars or larger vehicles. I reach my cruising speed quicker than they reach my cruising speed - it's just that they then carry on accelerating to a higher crusing speed than I do. By the time they catch me and the other cyclists, we've spread out a bit and there's room to pass.

Motorbikes, on the other hand, get away quicker than I can hope to, so they are right behind me and ready to overtake before the singling out process has happened. So, to me, it seems to make more sense to put the motorbikes in front of the cyclists - i'd rather have them away ahead of me, and with clear space opening up in front of me, than have them amassing behind me.

The thing with ASLs is that they make cyclists visible and give them a chance to get space to pull away from the lights without being hassled by surrounding cars. From that point of view, they work. I'm not saying they are without issues, but there are good reasons for them - it's just that they could be helped with a little development and also some more education about when not to use them.

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workhard [397 posts] 4 years ago
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ASL's would work so much better if every ASL equipped traffic light had a cycles only 'scramble' phase to get the bikes off and running for a few seconds, and thus largely clear of the left turning HGV and/or Grand Prix starting grid of other motorised traffic, before the 'motor' light turns green.

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andyp [1448 posts] 4 years ago
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the lorry may have been stopped in the ASL by traffic in front and got stuck there when the lights changed to red (in which case that IS legal).
Legal or not, surely this only happens if you're not reading the road and/or are very impatient?

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crazy-legs [767 posts] 4 years ago
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andyp wrote:

Legal or not, surely this only happens if you're not reading the road and/or are very impatient?

Maybe, maybe not but the fact remains that the lorry is there, it's a couple of thousand times heavier than you are therefore arguing with it is probably a bad idea. You may be 100% right, it may be your right of way but being dead is not a great standpoint to argue your point of view...

Equally, I could turn your words around - surely a cyclist only goes up the inside of a lorry if they're not reading the road and/or are very impatient?

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