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Coroner says tram tracks led to death of cyclist in Croydon

Tracks caused Roger de Klerk to fall in front of bus, inquest finds

The coroner at the inquest into the November 2013 death of cyclist Roger de Klerk has said she is “in do doubt whatsoever” that becoming tangled in tram lines led to his death.

The inquest heard that de Clerk fell moments before being hit by a bus at the junction of Cherry Orchard Road and Addiscombe Road on November 12 last year, according to the Croydon Advertiser.

Recording a finding that the 43-year-old IT entrepreneur had died as a result of a road traffic collision, South London Coroner Selena Lynch today said she will to write to Croydon Council's highways department to ask that they “urgently” look at the provision for cyclists at the junction, and on the tram system in Croydon as a whole.

“The wheels of his bike came into contact with the tram lines, causing him to lose control and fall on his right hand side into the path of a bus. The bus driver had no time to take avoiding action or to stop," Lynch said.

CCTV footage from the bus and a nearby tram showed de Klerk falling when he moved off to turn right after both he and the bus stopped at traffic lights.

The driver of the bus, Laura Leonard, told the court: "I saw him at the lights, he was waiting at the lights to the left in front of the bus. As the traffic moved off I checked the van in front had gone and I turned to look and the cyclist had gone, then I moved off. There was no cyclist in view until I saw him fall.

"I was moving from the traffic lights, so I couldn't say exactly the speed I was going, but perhaps around 10 miles per hour.

"I felt something, but I was hoping really it was just the bike. I can't really say much more, because it still upsets me now, thinking about his family."

Bus passenger Anastasia Maison said she heard a "crunch" as the bus hit de Klerk.

"When he fell, I remember screaming at him falling, then we heard the sound and everyone on the bus started screaming. The bus wasn’t moving fast.”

Roger de Klerk was aboard a road bike he had bought just a week before the fatal collision. The inquest was told that the wheels were narrower than the grooves of the tram tracks, so it was possible the bike had got stuck as he crossed at a shallow angle.

De Klerk’s mother, Anna De Klerk said he had phoned her the morning before his death.

“He told me he was going to Croydon to get his mobile phone repaired at a shop near East Croydon station, as far as I’m aware, the day of the accident was the first time he had cycled there."

The coroner said the junction had a "confusing" layout and there appeared to be "a lack of provision" for cyclists.

Lynch said: “The need to keep cyclists away from danger is ever-present. We hear talk about lorries, but it seems to me that tram lines may also be a problem for them, particularly for those not used to cycling where there are tram lines.”

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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