An inquest has heard how a cyclist was killed when an HGV driver turned left from the “wrong” lane on the Elephant and Castle roundabout. The Crown Prosecution Service opted not to prosecute the driver and it is thought this may have been due to a lack of evidence, with the cyclist’s approach to the junction obscured on CCTV footage.
The London Evening Standard reports that cyclist Abdelkhalak Lahyani had been on his way to work as a porter at Oxo Tower restaurant at about 4pm on May 13 last year. HGV driver Edwin Humphries indicated to turn left into Newington Butts from the middle of three lanes in Walworth Road — having wrongly believed the left-hand lane was a bus lane – and while manoeuvring crushed Lahyani under the rear wheels of his vehicle.
It was concluded that the likely turn of events was that as both parties set off from the traffic lights, Humphries turned left as Lahyani was trying to go straight on.
Collision investigator PC Andrew Smith told the Southwark News that he had never seen a road layout like the Elephant and Castle roundabout where cycle paths are located between lanes of traffic. “It’s a very complex junction,” he said.
Lahyani’s widow, Fatima Manah, has previously said that the junction is “like a death trap, just so dangerous for cyclists, and needs to be changed to prevent further deaths.”
Smith explained that the middle lane “is for people intending to go straight then turn right. It’s not a left-hand-turning lane.”
He also said that the cycle lane should have been “clearly visible” to Humphries. However, he pointed out that Lahyani’s exact position at the traffic lights is not known. CCTV failed to establish the location of cyclist as he approached the lorry, as he was hidden from the cameras – something which may have dissuaded the Crown Prosecution Service from prosecuting Humphries over the cyclist’s death. The driver testified at the inquest but under legal advice refused to answer questions from Coroner Briony Ballard about being in the “wrong” lane.
Humphries was on his way home to Telford in Shropshire having completed a job in Walworth Road. He told the court it was his first trip to London in two years.
“I was indicating for as long as I was sat at these traffic lights,” he said. “There are numerous blindspots. Unless it’s big, you ain’t going to see it. I was going very, very slowly and very cautiously. I straightened my truck up and checked my mirrors. Unfortunately there was a cyclist on the floor and I stopped.”
Ballard recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision, adding that Humphries’ failure to see Lahyani “may have been compounded” by his clothing – jeans, a dark jacket and a multi-coloured cycle helmet with a “brightly coloured” rucksack.
Martin Porter QC has questioned why Humphries was not prosecuted. “IMO this junction was deficient in that it did not prevent a careless collision but not so deficient that it causes the careful to collide,” he tweeted. Later adding: “Inquests into the death of cyclists never seem to me to be wholly satisfactory.”