Cycle Superhighway 2 “just a piece of blue paint” crash investigator tells inquest into death of Brian Dorling

Coroner describes Bow junction as "an accident waiting to happen"

by John Stevenson   October 14, 2013  

Bow roundabout (CC licenced image by diamond geezer:Flickr)

The credibility of non-segregated bike lanes like London’s infamous Cycle Superhighway 2 took another blow today when a police crash investigator told Poplar Coroner’s Court that the route along the A11 had no legal standing but was “just blue paint.”

According to the Evening Standard, PC Alex Hewitt was speaking at the inquest into the death of Brian Dorling who was crushed to death by a tipper truck at Bow roundabout on October 24, 2011.

Mr Dorling, 58, was on the way to work at Olympic Park when he was hit by the McArdle truck, driven by David Cox.

After examining CCTV evidence and pictures of the site, Coroner Mary Hassell said: “It just seems to me that it’s an accident waiting to happen if cyclists are guided into the space where blue paint is on the left and they’re in the very place where the lorry is going to hit them. It seems like they’re being guided into the place where they’re most vulnerable.”

PC Hewitt said: “It’s almost an impossible situation.”

Martin Porter QC suggested that Mr Dorling had jumped the red light to get clear of the truck, but that Mr Cox had also jumped the light and Mr Dorling had been dragged under the wheels of the truck as it crossed CS2.

PC Hewitt was asked what status the cycle superhighway had.  He replied: “Legally nothing. It’s just a piece of blue paint.”

The court heard that Mr Dorling found himself alongside the truck after the bike lane had been blocked by a bus.

Mr Cox told the inquest that he simply hadn’t seen Mr Dorling. “I have thought about it a million times since,” he said. “I know I was looking. I know I was. I can’t change anything unfortunately.”

In July, Mr Cox was found guilty of causing death by careless driving and sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for a year. Brian’s widow Debbie Dorling said at the time: “You can see he’s remorseful and see that he’s haunted. He is a broken man. Putting him in prison is not going to achieve anything.”

Cycle Superhighway 2 unfit for purpose

Brian Dorling was the first cyclist to die on one of the Cycle Superhighway routes. Less than three weeks later 34-year-old Svitlana Tereschenko was killed by a tipper truck at approximately 4.45pm on the evening of Friday, November 11.

The inquest into Ms Tereschenko’s death returned a narrative verdict.  Deputy coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe ruled that Ms Tereschenko died "as a result of traumatic road death". Although the driver, Gurpreet Shergill failed to indicate and was talking on a mobile phone at the time, Dr Radcliffe went on to conclude "that nobody is to blame".

The two deaths led to improvements to Bow roundabout, including the fitting of advance traffic lights to allow cyclists to move off ahead of dangerous motor vehicles.

London Cycling Campaign had warned before Cycle Superhighway 2 was built that routing cyclists through Bow roundabout was extremely dangerous, and that the rest of the route, largely an intermittent blue stripe on the road was totally unfit for purpose.

After the deaths of Mr Dorling and Ms Tereschenko it emerged that in the planning of Cycle Superhighway 2, Transport for London had ignored recommendations from the civil engineering firm, Jacobs Consultancy to install traffic signals specifically for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as separate cycle tracks.

When Cycle Superhighway 2 was being constructed, it was originally planned to run all the way from Ilford to Aldgate. The London Borough of Newham was widely criticised, including by this website, for citing safety as grounds for postponing the building of the section beyond Bow. That refusal now looks remarkably prescient, and the eastward continuation of CS2 now being built is far better segregated from motor vehicle traffic than the first phase.

11 user comments

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anyone else find this very disturbing?

"Although the driver, Gurpreet Shergill failed to indicate and was talking on a mobile phone at the time, Dr Radcliffe went on to conclude "that nobody is to blame"."

posted by hampstead_bandit [219 posts]
14th October 2013 - 17:50

34 Likes

One problem with much of the cs2 route is the way the road width keeps changing and cs2 randomly merges in to and out of the car lane, it's a nightmare and in places makes safe cycling more difficult, not less. I've had altercations with drivers more than once on the cs2 over the last year.
cs2 = fail
cs3 = ok, but accidents seem to be happening at the junction next to shadwell station.

posted by kie7077 [565 posts]
14th October 2013 - 17:52

12 Likes

I can't help but think the bulk of these lanes are a waste of blue paint.
CS 7 sends cyclists up the A3 which is just plain bonkers given how busy the road is.
I would have though looking at a strava heat map might give some clues as to where to develop commuter routes

posted by arfa [542 posts]
14th October 2013 - 19:21

16 Likes

Justice for cyclists who are victims of poor driving is just empty words long forgotten by UK law.

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

sm's picture

posted by sm [355 posts]
14th October 2013 - 19:31

11 Likes

Cycling CS2 is worse than before it was painted blue.
At least before cylists had a segregated lane.

Aileen

posted by Ails [6 posts]
14th October 2013 - 20:00

20 Likes

We don't need paint on the roads; what we need is some respect and some proper backup from the authorities. My bike is a vehicle and when I ride it on the road I expect to have the same protection from the law as all other road users.

I'm getting heartily fed up of the bits of paint on the road that do nothing more than make drivers of motor vehicles think that cyclists should stay "over there".

Shay

posted by shay cycles [254 posts]
14th October 2013 - 22:21

11 Likes

Where exactly is the Bow roundabout? Is it on the Bow Road, where the A118 meets the A11 and A12? Or is it at Aldgate?

Like some of the people have said, bike lanes aren't all they are cracked up to be. It sounds pretty tragic what happened. I've used some of cycle ways out in the East End of London and they really don't excite me as being solution to the infrastructure problems.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1200 posts]
14th October 2013 - 23:30

6 Likes

The junction is where the A12 heads in to London from Stratford and the A102 (ceases to the the A102(M) just to the North?) heads down to the Blackwall Tunnel. Any traffic engineer with sense would have sat and observed traffic behaviour before designing a facility for cyclists here.

Simply spending a few moments at the Three Mills Cafe you'll notice that around 70% of cyclists actually ride OVER the flyover*, whilst most of the motor traffic heads down the sides on the slip roads that connect with a roundabout underneath to turn North or South on the A102. There are some moments when the only vehicles in sight on the flyover are bicycles, and quite patently, short of a self-harming idiot driving off the edge, the likely chance of a driver turning across the path of a cyclist riding over the flyover is nil. Neither will there be the possibility of a driver running through a red light on the roundabout or incoming slip road and hitting a cyclist with right of way. Westbound one of the 2 lanes on the flyover is closed off permanently and could easily provide a 3 metre wide corridor that gets both pedestrians and cyclists completely clear of the major hazards presented by the multiple junctions on the roundabout. Eastbound the 2 lane carriageway is lightly used, and was reduced to a single lane during the Olympics period. * On one occasion I watched a UK version of Major Taylor tramping along in the outside lane easily hitting 30mph and overtaking the cars on a well set up road bike - most of the others were moving a bit more slowly.

What is not widely shown is the massive mess that roads engineers have created with the slip roads, on the East side both slip roads have 2-way traffic with only road markings to remind drivers to look out for vehicles coming the other way, and a tangle of turn-back connections, which are often abused by drivers making illegal moves to jump the queues. On the North East corner a set of traffic signals already provides a regulation of traffic coming on towards Stratford High Street, so that the contra-flow traffic can get out. On the South East corner the contra flow traffic has to use a gap in the traffic flow to turn - potentially a hazard for the now separated CS2 route as a right turning vehicle may be passing between vehicles in the traffic queue and have minimal clear sighting of the CS2 route they are driving out across.

On the Bow High Street side the low cost options are to put traffic signal controlled crossings on the slip roads and Westbound this offers a good move to regulate down the speeds of motor traffic which has just left the 50mph A102 and needs to be slowed down for the 30 and 20mph roads in Bow. The deluxe option on both the Northwest and Southwest corners is to take a bridge span off the side of the flyover and down a ramp to connect to the local roads network and provide a pedestrian route from the large residential areas, especially that on the SW corner, through to Stratford High Street, a journey which currently is both dangerous and unpleasant to make on foot - so few do so.

So to sum up - most of the motorised traffic here goes down the slip roads to turn North or South at the roundabout , almost all of the cycle traffic is heading East-West along the CS2 corridor and the flyover is often populated almost exclusively by cyclists. The North-South cycle route is provides by use of the River Lea navigation towpath and streets slightly to the East and West of the A102 dual carriageway racetrack - I've cycled on it for the short distance to Bromley by Bow station but you need to be really alert to the other traffic and not easily intimidated by the drivers.

To me the answer is B*** obvious - send CS2 AND pedestrian traffic over the flyover with provision for the less confident riders, and pedestrians to get on and off it with a controlled crossing of the slip roads, where this does not already exist.

From the reports coming back from the Coroner's Court this coroner is asking all the awkward questions, I do hope she asks about the number of cyclists using the flyover instead of the roundabout.

I appreciate the research that notes David Cox was driving for McArdle although we don't know which site was being serviced by this trip, and presumably McArdle have also taken steps to make sure their name does not appear on any future fatal crash reports. Who was Gurpreet Shergill driving for and what site was his trip serving?

Has either driver been called in for a formal hearing by the Traffic Commissioner?

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 [503 posts]
15th October 2013 - 0:41

16 Likes

A V Lowe wrote:
quite patently, short of a self-harming idiot driving off the edge, the likely chance of a driver turning across the path of a cyclist riding over the flyover is nil. Neither will there be the possibility of a driver running through a red light on the roundabout or incoming slip road and hitting a cyclist with right of way.

This is fundamentally wrong and very nieve.

So what would you suggest at both ends of the flyover, when cyclists have to cross traffic?

At both approaches cyclists would have to cross left turning traffic travelling toward Bow roundabout which is a very heavy movement and a potential hazard with a high proportion of HGVs.

At both exits from the flyover cyclists would have to cross two lanes (EB) and one lane (WB) of heavy traffic exiting Bow. Cyclists at this point would be on the descent of the flyover, and vehicles would be accelerating from the roundabout. At these points the road is not a merge but a lane gain, whereby vehicles are not required to give-way (or slow down). Vehicles would not expect cyclists to merge across them at this point.

The potential for conflict at these points is high not nill as you suggest.

posted by andycoventry [120 posts]
15th October 2013 - 7:38

7 Likes

arfa wrote:
I can't help but think the bulk of these lanes are a waste of blue paint.
CS 7 sends cyclists up the A3 which is just plain bonkers given how busy the road is.
I would have though looking at a strava heat map might give some clues as to where to develop commuter routes

The A3 was always busy with cycle commuters long before CS7. It's the most direct route from alot of south west London into the City or west end.

The road is pretty good, but the junctions on CS7 need a redesign.

posted by thereverent [318 posts]
15th October 2013 - 15:42

8 Likes

TfL ignored consultants warnings about Bow Roundabout. The coroner says, after hearing evidence about the junction that "its an accident waiting to happen.

TfL need to be facing corporate manslaughter charges for creating a junction that would inevitably lead to someones death, and unfortunately it happens to be 2 people.

Until they do, they will keep designing substandard lethal infrastructure solutions.

Fuck all will be done though. Maybe a campaign to get cyclists to wear hiviz, or a PR campaign to get cyclists to sit in the cab of a HGV's to see how fucking dangerous they are because of lack of visibility.

Frankly, this country is fucked.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [603 posts]
15th October 2013 - 15:52

6 Likes