Teenage pedestrian fighting for her life after being hit by a cyclist in Southend

Was walking in town's controverisal 'shared space' for cyclists and pedestrians

by Sarah Barth   February 3, 2013  

City Beach, Southend (picture Southend Council).jpg

A teenage girl is fighting for life in hospital after she was hit by a cyclist on Southend's promenade, a shared pedestrian and cyclist path along the beach front.

The 16 year old from Benfleet in Essex was taken to Southend Hospital in a life-threatening condition following the collision just after 9.45pm last night in Marine Parade.

She has now been transferred to Queens Hospital, in Romford, with a serious head injury.

The cyclist, a man in his 20s from Leigh, was uninjured.

The cycle path has been controversial from its beginnings. It was part of a £7.6 million scheme called City Beach, created in 2011.

Instead of providing a separate cycle lane, cyclists share the promenade with pedestrians.

According to a report in the Southend Standard at the time it was built, the council was keen that the facility not be used for cycling quickly.

But it was not welcomed by all in the area.

Carmel Bishop, aged 42 from Bishopsteignton, Shoebury, said before it was built: “You used to get serious problems, particularly in Chalkwell during busy periods when pedestrians were dodging cyclists.

“It looks like we’re going back to that,” she added.

Graham Pearl from local cycle club Southend Wheelers, who is also a Sustrans Bike-It officer, said at the time that he was in favour of it: “Anything that allows us to cycle in more places is beneficial.

“When it comes to shared use, it’s all about respect for each other, both cyclists and pedestrians.”

 

22 user comments

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I couldn't imagine a place I'd want to cycle less, shared with pedestrians? What else do Southend have planned, a shared area for both wind surfers and snorkelling?

posted by Nick T [795 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 9:48

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hopefully she makes a full recovery, and we don't know the full facts.

but this is why i am not happy that so much effort is put into pavement cycle paths. Bikes and pedestrians don't make good bed fellows. Walkers are too manoeuvrable, so unless the cyclists are going at little more than walking pace accidents are all too likely.

However my gut feeling is that in this case a young male cyclist no lights etc riding dangerously on the pavement and not giving a damn about those around.

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posted by mrmo [1068 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 10:06

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More terrible news; I hope the young lady makes a full recovery very quickly. Without the facts we cannot blame the cyclist? Although, the injury sustained by the young lady, would suggest that the cyclist was going quite quickly.

Mumbles to Swansea has the same mixed use on the prom, stretching 10, miles along Swansea Bay; and you can hire bikes there, but pedestrians outnumber cyclists by as much as 50/to/1,

The Taff Trail in South Wales is also for Cyclists and Walkers. No incidents - but many almost accidents on the trail. Goes from Cardiff Bay to Bangor in North Wales. 220, miles of almost all off road riding.

You have to be extremely vigilant when cycling these days; between vehicles trying to mow you down and pedestrians walking strait off the pavement without looking in either direction, or using a mobile to text someone and not looking where they're going. I've had a couple of incidents when someone has walked (without looking) off the pavement and strait in to me; and btw. pedestrians are sometimes walking at a good pace as they step off the sidewalk and in to you as you cycle along on the road.

I think the answer is : We, (cyclists and pedestrians) need to look out for each other, especially an shared access pathes and walkways. Take care.

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 11:43

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We don't know all the facts. But, just as with car-on-cyclist incidents, we know that if you are going fast enough to cause serious injuries then you shouldn't approach more vulnerable road users (or in this case path users) close enough for any unexpected movement on their part to cause an accident. If that means slowing down, or using a longer or less pleasant route, then so be it. That is because we live in a society in which one of the cornerstones is, or at least once was, that individuals actively and consciously put the safety of others above their own personal, or their family's, convenience. That is why I never use shared-use paths as part of any commute or recreational ride. And it is why I hope this cyclist is dealt with fairly but firmly, and unless there are any truly extenuating factors, given as severe a penalty as a motorist who harms a cyclist. Unfortunately, that is typically a fine for as little as 35 pounds, because the judiciary in this country seem to no more believe in the kind of society that I do as do the perpetrators.

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 11:54

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Mostyn wrote:
..... Without the facts we cannot blame the cyclist? Although, the injury sustained by the young lady, would suggest that the cyclist was going quite quickly.

Another conclusion jump. The cyclist was apparently uninjured. If you hit anything going 'quite quickly' you will probably suffer sort of injury too.

My conclusion, based upon no evidence, is that the cyclist was going slowly and the pedestrian stepped in front of him without warning and he hit her. She fell to the floor and banged her head. Not the fault of the cyclist at all.

See what I mean?

I wish her a very speedy and full recovery and that people would wait for the facts before jumping to conclusions.

For a bit of background; my late mother-in-law tripped over a static wheelchair, banged the back of the head on the floor and died of a massive brain haemorrage (spelling?). Conclusion of inquest, accidental death.

Did Nightrider 2013 for Parkinson's UK, doing it again this year just for the fun of it and to raise more money.

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posted by jova54 [604 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 11:59

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Given the choice between the road and a shared use path, I use the road every time. Safer for pedestrians, safer for me. Mind you, I've got the deathtrap shared-use paths in south Manchester.

Hope the lass makes a full recovery.

posted by Argos74 [289 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 13:30

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A cyclist on pedestrian accident is so rare that it warrants news coverage.
I wonder how many pedestrians were hit by cars on the same day that didnt warrant reporting.
Need to keep a perspective on it.

posted by Some Fella [744 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 15:35

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Let's hope the girl makes a speedy and full recovery, I feel sorry for her poor parents too they must be worried sick.

Probably not an incident though that shouldl lead us to jump to conclusions about shared use pathways, considering the large numbers of people who use them the incidents seem to be remarkably few. I can't recall any others from Southend since that path was put in place.

It's been a long time (thankfully) since I spent a Saturday night in Southend, but I wonder how crowded the path was at 9.45 on a cold night in February? The answer at the moment is that we don't know, and we don't know how fast the cyclist was going, or if either of those involved had been drinking - it was a Saturday night in Southend after all - which might have impaired their judgement. It may well be that no-one in this incident was to blame, accidents do happen. If it turns out the cyclist was to blame then let's hope that the girl and her family are able to get some redress. It is worth noting though that the report of the incident makes no mention of the rider being charged or cautioned by the police.

As the Sustrans ranger quoted in the story says, shared use paths work fine where everybody slows down and shows a bit of consideration and respect. The tricky part in some busy sections is that unlike 'naked streets' schemes where drivers, pedestrian, and cyclists share the space but know that one part of it is mainly for the cars and bikes and one part for the pedestrians on many shared use paths the perception of what they are for is often different for the two groups using them - pedestrians seem them as paths, whereas many cyclists see them as surrogate roads.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4135 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 15:48

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Hilarious how you all say "aaw we need to know the facts" but happy to pitchfork any driver after the headline.

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posted by koko56 [319 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 15:48

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Without knowing the facts it's impossible to make an appropriate comment.

However, I hope the young lady concerned makes a speedy and full recovery.

posted by Recumbenteer [145 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 22:18

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koko56 wrote:
Hilarious how you all say "aaw we need to know the facts" but happy to pitchfork any driver after the headline.

The evidence shows that in car vs bike collisions, that far more often than not, the driver is at fault.

And your point was?

posted by Recumbenteer [145 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 22:20

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jova54 wrote:
Mostyn wrote:
My conclusion, based upon no evidence, is that the cyclist was going slowly and the pedestrian stepped in front of him without warning and he hit her. She fell to the floor and banged her head. Not the fault of the cyclist at all.

See what I mean?

Its not based on no evidence. A German study of pedestrian fatalities hit by a cyclist found that that is exactly what happened and it didn't require any speed. The pedestrian tended to fall over and hit their head while the cyclists slid and rolled.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0379073802000853

posted by Tony [66 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 22:55

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Bias. A lot of the articles about car vs bike where it's convenient to jump to conclusions without knowing the whole story.

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posted by koko56 [319 posts]
3rd February 2013 - 23:25

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Some Fella wrote:
A cyclist on pedestrian accident is so rare that it warrants news coverage.
I wonder how many pedestrians were hit by cars on the same day that didnt warrant reporting.
Need to keep a perspective on it.

[[[ Quite right, Some Fella....and I get the distinct impression that in ANY reported collision between cyclist and walker, the public at large will generally assume it's the biker's fault. T'was ever thus!
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [277 posts]
4th February 2013 - 5:02

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[[[[ Yes, Tony F., you say there are "remarkably few" collisions with bikers and walkers---but there must be 10 shunts not reported, to every one that is. When walking on shared-use paths, I always feel uneasy (having been clipped several times by bikers, though never seriously so far), and when I'm cycling on the blasted things I never know whether a walker might suddenly change direction (and why shouldn't they?)
No, as has been said previously, bikes and feet should each have separate and clearly marked lanes, like the stretch in London's Hyde Park running west from Hyde Park Corner. It ain't perfect, and there will always be encroachments, but when you ride it you don't have to poodle along at four-and-a-half mph, and walkers don't have to worry too much about hospital admissions....
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [277 posts]
4th February 2013 - 5:40

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I am astounded that people think that pedestrians and cyclists should share the same space, particularly in this age of MP3 players and SMS. I am regularly told by the police to ride on the pavement (even though it is illegal in Russia!) but as soon as I can I get back on the road. Even at crawling pace it is almost impossible to avoid pedestrians who just change direction without looking, for example to look in a shop window, or are busy talking on their phones. They shouldn't need to worry about the dangers of a mechanical object and cyclists shouldn't have to fear the ever increasing SMS walkabout syndrome.

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posted by Tovarishch [49 posts]
4th February 2013 - 7:07

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@Tovarishch - glad to see Russia is the same as the UK then! Big Grin

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

posted by notfastenough [3094 posts]
4th February 2013 - 10:21

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According to the numerous comments on this article the unfortunate girl was hit by a guy on a bike who was going "too fast", and who may or may not have had lights, and may or may not have been injured too. I can't vouch for the veracity of the comments, so take them with a pinch of salt.

posted by thelimopit [119 posts]
4th February 2013 - 10:49

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tony_farrelly wrote:
Probably not an incident though that shouldl lead us to jump to conclusions about shared use pathways, considering the large numbers of people who use them the incidents seem to be remarkably few. I can't recall any others from Southend since that path was put in place.

I agree that conclusions shouldn't be drawn from single incidents, but the pavement route to where I work is a shared path (and for pedestrians it is the only viable route).

When I've been on foot I've been very narrowly missed by people on bikes - a couple of inches from a glancing blow, which can easily send someone to the ground, where it's easy to bang one's head.

Frankly the path makes me nervous enough - I can't imagine it's much fun for an old lady or someone with small kids (this route also takes in the hospital, a supermarket and a nursery).

I've cycled on it just out of morbid curiosity and when on a bike, you can only go at jogging pace, and have to stop when the path is crowded, otherwise you risk an incident. Others are not necessarily so careful.

tony_farrelly wrote:
It may well be that no-one in this incident was to blame, accidents do happen.

Hang on. This gets said a lot when people on bikes are killed or injured by people in cars. I disagree with it. When sharing space, people with a mechanical advantage should have a responsibility to conduct themselves in a way which protects those without that advantage. (This is long-standing maritime convention, AFAIK, and for good reason.) As a cyclist on a shared path you need to account for the fact that people may be drunk or have medical problems, may not be paying full attention (who really does when walking?), may not be immediately visible.

tony_farrelly wrote:
As the Sustrans ranger quoted in the story says, shared use paths work fine where everybody slows down and shows a bit of consideration and respect.

That's like saying the Elephant and Castle works fine where everybody slows down and shows a bit of consideration and respect. It's a nice idea but in practice it's utter nonsense - it's as realistic as suggesting that leaving your front door unlocked is fine as long as people don't go around burgling people.

The problem is rotten infrastructure whose design completely fails to cater for the less advantaged users on it, and (in the absence of that) rotten legal details that fail to do likewise. Shared paths do not - IMO and IME - work fine. People muddle through. They don't complain as loudly as they do about dangerous roads, because the issues tend to be rather less severe, but at any non-negligible level of use they're *horrible* to use for all parties.

I may be piloting a lone ship here, but I believe in the principle of looking after the more vulnerable in any given situation: whether that's people on bikes when surrounded by cars, or people on foot when surrounded by bikes. IMO that protection absolutely should not be left up to individuals (or indeed to retrospective investigation, which by nature is too late): it should be either written in statute or built in concrete. And, since concrete cannot be used everywhere, preferably both.

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posted by Bez [371 posts]
4th February 2013 - 10:52

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Although rare, terribly sad incidents like this are sharp reminders that it is vital that everyone uses shared use spaces - like this or canal towpaths - mindfully and with consideration for others.

http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/walking-and-cycling-in-londons-greatest-pa...

Dick Vincent
London Towpath Ranger
Canal & River Trust

posted by Towpath Ranger [4 posts]
4th February 2013 - 10:59

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The problem with shared space is that pedestrians (as the more vulnerable party in this instance) have right of way, and therefore the only safe speed is walking-pace.

I don't know about you but I have difficulty riding that slowly...

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [815 posts]
4th February 2013 - 14:11

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Firstly, I really hope the girl makes a swift and full recovery. It must be awful for the her family and friends.
As the debate over pedestrian/cyclists shared paths...well some can be good and others less so. this one sounds like it's in the latter category.
In general terms, I do think, as the quicker moving traffic, the cyclists have a responsibility to slow down in busier places. I've shamefully been that ignorant "get out of my way" cyclist in the past and it's idiotic. Luckily I've always got away with it and I've grown up a bit now. I still get annoyed when approaching a dog walker on a NCN route, wearing headphones with their dog on a long lead darting across the path (especially when it's dark too!). But perhaps that person will grow up one day too! Mutual respect really is the best way forward.

posted by BikeJon [42 posts]
4th February 2013 - 16:28

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