Bow roundabout: "Nobody is to blame" for death of cyclist Svitlana Tereschenko says coroner
No action to be taken against tipper lorry driver who failed to signal while talking on hands free mobile phone
Police investigating the death of Svitlana Tereschenko killed last year at Bow Roundabout while cycling home from work decided as early as February this year that the driver of the tipper truck which killed her, Gurpreet Shergill, would face no charges over the matter despite his failure to indicate that he was turning left and talking on a handsfree mobile phone at the time of the incident. That decision was afterwards condemned by Ms Tereschenko's family.
Svitlana Tereschenko died on her way home from work at around 4.45pm on a Friday evening last November. She had pushed her bike to the head of a queue of stationary traffic as she tried to get to the start of the Barclays Cycle Superhighway heading at Bow Roundabout. As the traffic moved off she was struck and killed by the Olympic park tipper truck as it turned left across her heading for the Blackwall Tunnel.
Police accident investigator PC Christopher Thorne said that although the driver, Mr Shergill had been in breach of the Highway Code for using his phone and failing to indicate he was not breaking the law. The police investigation concluded that Ms Tereschenko had placed her bike in the lorry's blindspot and that as the lorry turned she moved further in to the blindspot.
“There is every likelihood he didn’t see her,” PC Thorne told the inquest. “That is the crux of the matter.
“As he turned, she would have been progressively deeper and deeper into his area of restricted vision.”
CCTV footage viewed at the inquest showed Ms Tereschenko positioning her bike in front of the lorry seemingly unaware of the danger of the situation; witnesses to the incident, passengers in a car behind the lorry, also said that they could see the danger that Ms Tereschenko had placed herself in and that it had seemed to them clear that the driver of the tipper lorry intended to turn left.
Accepting the police findings in a narrative verdict Deputy coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe ruled that Ms Tereschenko's died "as a result of traumatic road death". While acknowledging that if the lorry had been indicating it might have given Ms Tereschenko some warning and the chance to consider her movement and position on the road Dr Radcliffe went on to conclude "that nobody is to blame".
In her verdict Dr Radcliffe also stressed the importance of constantly reminding cyclists of the dangers posed by such lorries and "the positions where they are very vulnerable and which they should avoid at all costs."
Speaking afterwards to the Evening Standard's Ross Lydall, Ms Tereschenko's mother Mariia Vorobei who had travelled from the Ukraine along her elder daughter Oksana to attend the inquest compared the approach taken to the incident in this country with what would have happened in her native Ukraine:
“My daughter was in love with this country. We respect the conditions of this country.
“But in the Ukraine, a driver would be prosecuted always if there is a victim. This is a criminal case. We are shocked.
“How is it possible that everybody else could see the cyclist but not him? What if it was a little child? He was not concentrating on the road. That is why he didn’t see her.”
We are absolutely shocked that he failed to offer any sort of apology.”
Mrs Vorobei said she was also upset to see that a ghost bike left by the side of the roundabout in her daughter's memory had been vandalised and appealed for help in replacing it.
Svitlana Tereschenko's was killed at the Bow roundabout less than three weeks after Brian Dorling died while cycling in the opposite direction to his job at the Olympic Park - the lorry driver who killed him is currently on bail on a charge of causing death by careless driving.
As a result of the deaths of Mr Dorling and Ms Tereschenko Transport for London has been forced to re-design the junction at Bow Roundabout while both TfL and the Mayor's office have both been heavily criticised for failing to act on a report commissioned by TfL warning of the potential dangers posed by the design of the roundabout and the start of Barclays Cycle Superhighway CS7. The Green Party London mayoral candidate, Jenny Jones has called for TfL and the Mayor's office to be investigated on a charge of corporate manslaughter over the issue.
The deaths at Bow coming soon after the death of 24-year-old student Deep Lee who died under the wheels of a lorry at another notorious London junction at Kings Cross has pushed the issue of cyclists' safety in London high up the political agenda in the run up to the Mayoral election and gave further impetus to campaigns by the LCC and others focusing dangerous junctions and the threat posed to cyclists by lorries.
His crtics view what happened at Bow as emblematic of Boris Johnson's approach to cycling. They accuse him of encouraging large numbers of Londoners to start cycling on London's roads during his mayoralty while at the same time failing to take adequate measures to ensure their safety because of a desire to maintain the smooth flow of traffic. Bow, they argue, was the inevitable consequence of Mayor Johnson's cycling revolution.