Cement mixer pensioner faces jail after admitting killing cyclist

Driver was turning when he hit and ran over female rider in Oxford

by Sarah Barth   August 18, 2012  

Broken bike (pic by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

A pensioner has been told he is facing jail after admitting careless driving that killed a cyclist in Oxford last year.

Stephen Bateman, 74, was driving a cement mixer in a complex turning manoeuvre when he hit Joanna Braithwaite, 34, as she cycled to work on October 28, as we reported at the time.

The severity of the sentence will depend on whether the driver was attempting a dangerous turn without guidance from a banksman. The incident happened at the corner of Woodstock Road and Polstead Road in North Oxford

The court was told that before being run over, Joanna had been knocked off her bicycle and was lying near the rear wheels.

An eyewitness said that the truck reversed over her once before rolling forward again, the Oxford Times reported.

Charles Ward-Jackson, prosecuting, said: “The manoeuvre itself that was executed by the defendant is referred to in the building industry as a reverse block manoeuvre.

“It does appear to be a dangerous manoeuvre on the public road because what it involves is driving a heavy goods vehicle into the opposing lane and reversing backwards into a side road without any form of banksman.

“If the manoeuvre itself is dangerous that may be an aggravating feature when it comes to sentence.”

Reverend Charlie Cleverly of St Aldate's Church, Pembroke Street, where Joanna worked as an assistant, told the BBC at the time of her death: "She was full of life, laughter and wisdom.

"It's a terrible tragedy, one of those chaotic events that comes into a groaning world.

"She was an amazing girl. We're all devastated."

Lorries account for a disproportionate number of cycling fatalities given the proportion of traffic that they make up. Construction vehicles - tipper trucks and cement lorries account for a disproportionate number of the cycling deaths caused by HGVs and are by far the most dangerous vehicles to cyclists on Britain's roads.

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If this move was being made on the site it would have been subject to CDM regulations 2007 (Construction Design & Management), as part of the employers' and clients' duty of care - part of their responsibility under HSAW legislation.

We have this glaring anomaly the as soon as the trucks are outside on the public road, CDM is merely an optional measure. Let's make this clear on a construction site, reversing moves by all large vehicles HAVE to have a person on foot able to see the hazards that the driver cannot see when reversing and control the movement of the vehicle and that of others moving around in the same area.

On the street - and even in places like supermarket car parks I see large vehicles being reversed, or manouevred through confined spaces with no vanguard on foot, it is especially bad in pedestrianised streets when delivery trucks or refuse collection vehicles are moving around. Regrettably we will need to have some small child or a pensioner killed or maimed by such activity before, it becomes clear to the operators and businesses involved that the level of risk in operating this way can be drastically reduced, and failure to provide that person on foot will render them liable for substantial liability, through failure to deliver an appropriate duty of care.

In this case we should also be told who the site operator and the truck operator were, as pinning blame solely on the driver may be less than the appropriate action. He should not have been expected to perform this move without the safety measures of a banksman, on foot supervising the movement. If the site, or the truck operator failed to provide the person, rather than the driver failing wait for one to assist, than the site and truck operators should also be in the dock.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [351 posts]
10th September 2012 - 9:50

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