Cyclist killed by Olympic bus: witness accounts and Wiggins's input

Fatal incident happened just after 7.30pm last night by Olympic Park

by Sarah Barth   August 2, 2012  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

A 28-year-old male cyclist was last night killed by a bus transporting members of the media between two Olympic venues. The cyclist has been named this afternoon as Dan Harris from Wanstead.

The fatal incident took place at 7.33pm at the junction of the Eastway and the A12 East Cross Route, a little to the west of where the latter swings south to form the Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach Road.

That junction is close to the northwestern corner of the Olympic Park, where the Main Press Centre is located, and it is understood that the bus was heading from there to the ExCel Arena at the Royal Docks.

A Metropolitan police spokesman said a man in his mid-60s was arrested just outside the Olympic Park at 9.28pm on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

A date for a postmortem examination is yet to be fixed.

A Reddit user who claimed to have been a witness to the incident wrote an account online, which he has since taken down.

He said:

As I was cycling home from work tonight a guy, maybe in his late 20's, was cycling level with me and as we approached a bus he went inside while I held back. The lights changed as he was in the buses blind spot and as he was attempting to go straight the bus turned left. He didn't really have anywhere to go and no time to do anything anyway...

It is so dangerous out there guys. But for a single choice that poor guy would have made it home tonight. Don't skip at lights when they look clear, don't try to squeeze past heavy vehicles to save a few seconds. Never be afraid to live your life to the fullest, but be careful and be aware of the dangers around you. Be safe everyone.

Meanwhile Bradley Wiggins stoked the helmet debate a little more by saying at a press conference when he heard of the tragedy:

"Ultimately, if you get knocked off and you don’t have a helmet on, then you can’t argue. You can get killed if you don’t have a helmet on.

"You shouldn’t be riding along with iPods and phones and things on. You have lights on. Once there are laws passed for cyclists then you are protected and you can say, ‘well, I have done everything to be safe."

"It is dangerous and London is a busy city. There is a lot of traffic. I think we have to help ourselves sometimes."

Many interpreted Wiggins' comments as being his being supportive of compulsory helmet laws, but he took to Twitter this afternoon to clarify them, saying: "Just to confirm I haven't called for helmets to be made the law as reports suggest. I suggested it may be the way to go to give cyclists more protection legally I [sic] involved In an accident. I wasn't on me soap box CALLING, was asked what I thought."

On Sky Sports News at lunchtime, world champion Mark Cavendish was asked whether he believed helmets should be made compulsory. He declined to provide a straight answer to that question, but outlined that he certainly wouldn't ride without one.

Cavendish however repeated comments he made earlier this year that the UK should consider implemeting no-fault liability for road traffic incidents involving vulnerable users such as cyclists, similar to rules in some continental countries, and also said ""We've got to increase the infrastructure for cyclists."

The collision is being investigated by the Met's Police's road death investigation unit.

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RIP

I am only as insane as the insanity around me (Jens Voigt)

posted by alronald [58 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 12:30

28 Likes

Well, this has causd controversy hasn't it?

First - Wiggo's comments were made in the abstract having no knowledge of this actual accident, so the media in general need to realise that and stop criticising him. It was a horrible position to be put in.

Second, I wear a helmet, always. A very nice good looking one recommended by this site no less. But if people don't then that's their choice. Personally, I prefer wearing one, but we are responsible adults here and you take responsibility for your own actions. However, what I would say is that in a crash involving any impact with the head (other than, say, a crush injury from a truck, which let's face it nothing will protect you from) then helmets increase your chances of being less seriously hurt. A helmet is not designed to "cushion" an impact - it's designed to break and dissipate the force, which they usually do. They stop that force reaching your skull. They are "sacrificial" in the sense they are supposed to break instead of your skull. Even very low speed impacts to the head can have massive consequences in terms of changing your quality of life. Personally, I prefer to increase my chance of coming off better (it's nothing more - it increases your chances. Nothing can ever protect you fully from every type of crash)

The third thing i have to say is that I totally agree with Wiggo about ipods/phones etc. I come across far too many people who are oblivious to their surroundings on my daily commute and I have seen too many close calls (and been victim of some) where people wearing headphones, which block out one of the most important senses, do odd things. This is not scientific fact - just my experience - but it seems to me that people wearing headphones become less aware in general of their surroundings. Not hearing makes them less likely to look over their shoulder, and I think this is becasue they don't hear the danger before they see it, so don't instictively look for it. Just my opinion - don't shout at me for it, but it's one based on years of commuting through London.

Incidentally, wearing headphones in a car is illegal and people can be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention, so the law already recognises that hearing is an important sense when out on the road.

posted by Paul99 [17 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 12:32

33 Likes

Thanks Wiggo, maybe u should just stick to pedalling, if I want your opinion on my ability to make risk assements of when I will and will not wear my helmet I will ask. What I need to stop writing I see an someone cycling at 10mph, with out full body armour and there are some children about to climb a tree without attending a risk assements course, wait there's someone running on the road at 12mph without a lid on. Cycling is about freedom and freedom of choice, of all the fatalities from cycling how many involved a vehicle, the majority, so the vehicle is at fault. But the saddest thing is we can forget images like this.

images.jpg

posted by surreyxc [48 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 12:32

31 Likes

No more pretty girls cruising around. Wiggo your a tool.

posted by surreyxc [48 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 12:33

29 Likes

hairyairey wrote:
Interesting andybwhite how you quote guidance regarding "Strict Liability Contempt under the Contempt of Court Act 1981" that does not support your point of view at all. Sorry you are still wrong.

Let's quote correctly from the CPS's own website shall we?

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/contempt_of_court/

"'Constructive' or indirect contempt, e.g. the publication of a newspaper article prejudicing a forthcoming trial (this may also be referred to as 'Strict Liability Contempt', although publication of such prejudicial matter may also be a contempt at common law). This is known as a civil contempt." - ie charges have to have been brought.

"Strict Liability Contempt under the Contempt of Court Act 1981
The strict liability rule may render the publication a contempt regardless of any intent to interfere with the course of justice in the proceedings" - again, charges have to been brought.

I think if you stick to your mistaken view you'll just look like an idiot.

In fact if you were write newspapers would be struggling for news even more than they are now. This does not mean that newspapers can publish what they like they still have to stick to known facts and not libel people.

AND the Guardian have included it in a report too, so reckon we're on safe ground Smile

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/bike-blog/2012/aug/02/bradley-wigg...

Sarah Barth's picture

posted by Sarah Barth [1017 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 12:34

28 Likes

Helmets really do not help in collisions with third parties. They are not designed to and they simply don't so please don't trot out the myth that a substantial part of your injury would be prevented. They will protect you in low speed accidents not involving another vehicle. Compulsory use of helmets in other countries has not saved lives it has only reduced bicycle use and thereby increased the bigger health risks associated with a less active lifestyle

Despite all your infrastructure that protects pedestrians there are still a couple of thousand killed every year by motor vehicles. In fact 200 are killed on the pavements alone. Compulsory pedestrian helmet use would help in many of these cases. After all being a pedestrian is not a high energy sport and a more substantial helmet could easily be worn, no real need for air vents for example.

posted by Actium [37 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 12:37

21 Likes

This is ridiculous.

Some poor chap died. There is (from the witness account) no suggestion that a helmet may have helped. Extra caution might have. The driver and passengers are probably also a bit messed up.

Wiggo was asked a general question, likely without knowing the background of the above incident. He said helmets were a good idea, as is taking responsibility for your own actions. He is entitled to his opinion, and I've not heard people telling him to be quiet when that opinion coincided with your own.

Cue the same old arguments trotted out yet again. zzzz

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3329 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 12:56

32 Likes

I am 100% with thereandbackagain on this, very well expressed.

And KSI rates for walking are slightly higher than for cycling, by distance travelled, so the suggestion about making pedestrians wear helmets, while it sounds ridiculous, is absolutely valid.

If pedestrians should not have to, why should cyclists who are at less risk? Especially when you consider that the injury rate will vary across different types of cycling (sport vs rush-hour commuting vs other transport) and in different environments. Should someone who cycles back-streets to get to the shops on a Sunday morning have to be kitted out like Wiggins?

I don't think that is really necessary, it is an additional expense and has limited potential to save lives as most of those who I see riding in what I would consider more dangerous conditions seem to wear them anyway.

sparrow_h's picture

posted by sparrow_h [35 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 13:07

28 Likes

I conclude from the above and all I have researched on the subject that nobody has a definitive answer as to whether helmets do protect cyclists or not. My own experience is that they do but since there is no way anyone will carry out a study to prove it no one will be convinced either way.

The argument that helmets deter people from cycling seems to be based on the experiences in other countries, cultures and climates so cannot be extrapolated to the UK so are of limited use.

In short neither side can prove any point and it remains entirely up to the rider whether to wear a helmet or not.

What it does do is deflect debate away from much more important cycling issues such as poor driving standards in the UK, lack of driver and cyclist training, lack of mirrors and systems to warn of blind side cyclists on lorries and buses, feeble sentencing by the UK judiciary and the dire lack of segregated bike paths in 99% of UK Towns and cities. If all these latter issues were satisfactorily addressed and resolved the helmet issue would be moot as we would have mimicked the Dutch experience.

Until that day apart from our own wits the helmet debate is the only protection many cyclists have.

posted by TechnoTim2012 [7 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 13:36

17 Likes

Horrible story, but sadly not that surprising.

I also think there have been a lot of foolish kneejerk responses to Wiggins' comments on this (and other) threads. He didn't know the specifics of the incident, so he wasn't by any means saying that a helmet would have helped in this instance. His comments should really be taken in isolation as his view about cycling precautions in general. Even if you disagree with them they are perfectly reasonable (and in the case of not having headphones in, downright obvious) things to say.

esnifador's picture

posted by esnifador [5 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 13:42

17 Likes

Two points.

1)Why is there generally so much emphasis on surviving collisions (cue helmet debate), and so little on avoiding them, as if they were inevitable?

2)Shouldn't the degree of protection be proportional to the risk? Racing on road, helmet may be appropriate, off-road mountain biking, helmet and armour may make sense. You wouldn't wear a helmet in a car normally, but would if taking the same car out for a track day.

IMHO how you ride makes a lot more difference than what you wear.

Utility Cyclist

posted by utility_cyclist [15 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 13:47

19 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
Wiggo was asked a general question, likely without knowing the background of the above incident. He said helmets were a good idea

Wrong. He argued in favour of compulsion (changing the law), which is NOT the same thing and has been shown to be counterproductive. If he didn't know he, and the many organisations campaigning for safer roads, would have been better off not making such an unequivocal statement.

Bradley is entitled to his opinion. Hoeever, he has just won the world's biggest bicycle race and a fourth Olympic gold medal so his opinion is front page news. It will be seized by those who think a helmet law (an easy 'fix') will improve our safety. Far better to listen to experienced campaign groups like RoadPeace, Spokes, CTC et al, all of whom have read, thought and discussed this subject earnestly and at great length for many years.

To the cloth-eared among you, please listen: those of us arguing against compulsion are, for the most part, not trying to insult those who choose to wear one. A knee-jerk reaction (on either side) is a waste of pixels and your time. If you try to listen to the points made you might just be in a better informed position than you were before.

Interesting points made in this article in The Times:
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3495247.ece

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2001 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 13:53

15 Likes

Simon E wrote:

Interesting points made in this article in The Times:
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3495247.ece

Preferred this one for a balanced discussion of the issue

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3495439.ece

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [555 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 14:12

13 Likes

Paul99 wrote:
Well, this has causd controversy hasn't The third thing i have to say is that I totally agree with Wiggo about ipods/phones etc. I come across far too many people who are oblivious to their surroundings on my daily commute and I have seen too many close calls (and been victim of some) where people wearing headphones, which block out one of the most important senses, do odd things. This is not scientific fact - just my experience - but it seems to me that people wearing headphones become less aware in general of their surroundings. Not hearing makes them less likely to look over their shoulder, and I think this is becasue they don't hear the danger before they see it, so don't instictively look for it. Just my opinion - don't shout at me for it, but it's one based on years of commuting through London.

Incidentally, wearing headphones in a car is illegal and people can be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention, so the law already recognises that hearing is an important sense when out on the road.

IME some people are oblivious to their surrounding even without headphones, so I'm not sure that argument holds much water. Due care and attention has little to do with hearing - you're not disqualified from driving if you're deaf. Likewise, if you're a motorcyclist and value your hearing, you wear earplugs.

On some of the faster roads I use, hearing counts for very little - by the time you hear it it's so close there's not a fat lot you can do about it anyway. Plus on my usual commuting bike - a recumbent - I get lots of wind noise. The solution's pretty straightforward - more shoulder checks, or get a mirror - I went for the latter since it's nigh on impossible to get a good look around on a 'bent.

posted by JonD [190 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 14:35

17 Likes

I note the witness took his description of the event down. His subsequent comment about wishing to spare the feelings of the victim's family are worth bearing in mind.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2242 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 15:28

18 Likes

drheaton wrote:

Firstly, calm the f#*k down, secondly, you're wrong.

You cycle along busy roads surrounded by traffic, if you're driving you're in a vehicle which has to be extensively crash tested and pass certain safety tests to ensure that if you are involved in ANY kind of collision you are safe.

I'm just going to let the colossal stupidity of that statement stand for itself. Your definition of 'sufficient' is different from mine and neither of us have a completely objective basis for deciding 'sufficient', but one of us is too imbecilic to understand that. Please understand I don't call someone an imbecile lightly, even on the internet, so that's quite an honour you've won.

Now watch me win this argument by going down a waterslide.

posted by nuclear coffee [164 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 15:31

15 Likes

I think it is pretty crap of a journalist to have questioned Wiggins on this at that time. I also think it is outrageous that the media have headlined his comments. He was a racing cyclist who had won an Olympic event that day and not a fully-versed expert at a road safety conference. Particularly as, on the video (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/aug/02/bradley-wiggins-helmet...), he does seem rather tired and as he points out:

"... probably a bit too tipsy to start talking about this now..."

He finishes off with:

"..but you know I'm probably the last person to be on the soap box about all that sort of stuff to be honest"

posted by Bristolbybike [12 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 15:51

22 Likes

sc129806 wrote:
Terribly sad news.
I support Wiggins comments. Its all common sense...

If you block out the sounds of the road by wearing headphones or listening to music you give yourself little chance of hearing danger.
If you dont wear a helmet you risk serious head injury.
If you dont wear hi-viz clothing or use dont use lights in the dark you wont be seen easily.
If you jump red lights you could collide with a vehicle / somebody.

If your hit by a car doing 40 you risk serious head injury , even with a helmet and shouldn't all cars be bright yellow so the visually impaired can see the more easily? And a for RLJing you might want to try having a word with the van driver who came tearing out of a garage, narrowly missing he front of my car, and tore through a red light a good four or five seconds after they had turned red and vehicles at the other side of the junction was already moving.

The only thing that will reduce he death rate on our roads is for everyone, no matter what their means of propulsion, takes more care and obeys the rules, that's what they're there for.

posted by spen [87 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 17:50

23 Likes

.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 18:40

17 Likes

Bloody hell, a poor bloke has lost his life and all we seem to be concerned over is a comment made by Wiggins about helmets.

It's about time people sat and thought about what they are typing cos at the moment some of the comments already on the forum are crass stupidity.

Have a bit of respect please.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2809 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 20:17

13 Likes

In all the debates over helmets, you always here about the individual who has had an accident, hit his/her spam against the ground/car and are forever greatful (I admittedly am one of those who came off at over 20 miles per hour and landed on the back of my head after having had a car door opened on me).

I have yet to read anyone say they had an accident, came off their bike and hit their head and feel they came out better for not having worn a helmet.

Either those individuals who have had accidents while not wearing helmets are not enilghtening us to how they were better off or, possibly, those who have come off their bikes and hit their heads are not able to write any longer... Surprise

Tripod16

posted by Tripod16 [113 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 20:33

15 Likes

The Reddit user who claimed to have been a witness to the incident has taken down his description of the incident because he doesn't want to cause distress for the family of the cyclist. Maybe the text should be removed from this page?

http://www.reddit.com/r/bicycling/comments/xiud7/just_sat_down_with_some...

posted by horizontal dropout [154 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 21:32

14 Likes

sc129806 wrote:
Terribly sad news.
I support Wiggins comments. Its all common sense...

If you block out the sounds of the road by wearing headphones or listening to music you give yourself little chance of hearing danger.
If you dont wear a helmet you risk serious head injury.
If you dont wear hi-viz clothing or use dont use lights in the dark you wont be seen easily.
If you jump red lights you could collide with a vehicle / somebody.

A lot of these points apply to pedestrians as well, but should no-one ever walk around with headphones or dress in normal clothes in the dark. Isn't that taking things a bit far? A lot of people die falling down the stairs, probably mainly from head injuries. Should we put on helmets in the morning if we sleep upstairs?

Personally I think when I'm a driver that it's harder to spot a pedestrian in dark clothes than a bike without lights, of which there are plenty in Cambridge, and so even if people are being foolish and breaking the law you can still see them, just about, if you're paying attention.

Obviously cyclists should obey the law and not jump red lights and carry lights. The only thing that might be useful and worth making compulsory is having a mirror as all cars have, although I don't currently have one myself but have thought it might be useful when travelling fast.

Helmets and hi-viz should be a personal decision I think. I wear a helmet and my training clothes have some reflective bits even though nowadays I rarely go out in the dark, but as long as you have functioning lights you should be seen and no driver should have any excuse if they haven't.

Going down the inside of buses is obviously dangerous and although I've probably done it on plenty of occasions in the past I don't now and in fact avoid routes with buses on them as much as possible along with 'A' roads and even busy 'B' roads. Luckily this isn't difficult to do around Cambridge but a lot harder in London I'm sure.

My thoughts go out to the family of the deceased and the witness as well as I'm sure he won't forget what he's seen for a very long time, if ever. Statistically, cycling is not a dangerous activity but we all have close calls from time to time, and all of us can make a mistake, car and bus drivers included.

RIP Dan Harris

posted by Alan Tullett [1457 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 21:48

19 Likes

Wow, I'm wondering how some people can get on their high horse with so much knee jerking.

There's a debate to be continued about the efficacy of wearing a helmet but I'm not sure this is the time to have it, when some poor sod has lost his life, and Wiggins feels his views have been distorted.

posted by paulfg42 [376 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 22:05

19 Likes

Thoughts with victims family.

Thoughts to the witness, I hope I never need to show the inner strength you have - when my time comes I hope there is somebody as good as you there for me. You are the true spirit of humanity.

posted by 37monkey [143 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 23:36

17 Likes

If the facts are accurate at bicyclinginfo.org... about 600-800 cyclists have been killed each year for the last 20 years in the US in motor vehicle/bicycle accidents; approx. 50-60K injuries occur each year. As a side note: Sadly... we average about 42,000 deaths in motor vehicle accidents.

Most states have motorcycle helmet laws but do not have bicycle helmet laws; although you can find towns or special cases for local governance requiring helmets for bicyclist.

Liability and Fault laws/codes aside... Isn't the argument for helmets really focused on reducing head injuries/brain trauma in non-fatal accidents?

Thinking

posted by dino [57 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 1:23

19 Likes

The negative comments about Wiggins and about helmet
wearing remind me why I left road cycling uk!. As any motorcycle rider will tell you - ride defensively. If you
don't you may get away with it most of the time - but at some point there will be a 'black swan' event; Where if your lucky you'll be scared sh**less and not scarred.

Oh yes, don't wear an Ipod, use a phone or jump the lights - the first two are distractions, the last one is illegal. If cyclists don't take road craft seriously and take responsibility for their actions then perhaps legislation will be used. What you prefer ?.

As for helmets - no helmet, no brainer really!
Justin,
Berks

To slo to live, to slo to die! ::-}

posted by OldnSlo [125 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 7:00

23 Likes

One question for all the people on this site saying banning headphones whilst cycling (because you can't hear the other road users) Can deaf people hold a UK driving Licence.

Ans. Yes for cars and vans without even informing DVLA of condition PSV and large vans/lorries Yes but have to inform DVLA.

Unfortunately a bad user of a road is going to continue being a bad user/risk to you wether you can hear them or not.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [595 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 12:41

19 Likes

strange that wiggo thinks helmets should be compulsory and ipods and phones be made illegal whilst cycling because he wasn't wearing one the other sunday while out riding with his son in paris and for the three weeks before that he was cycling at speed in a big group with an earpiece in his ear and talking into a microphone!!!

posted by duzza [45 posts]
4th August 2012 - 22:15

13 Likes

TechnoTim2012 wrote:
The last two posts don't add to the debate at all. Very poorly argued. The risk of head injury when inside a car is negligible...

How ironic.

posted by Mat Brett [1906 posts]
10th August 2012 - 8:33

20 Likes