A coroner presiding over an inquest into the death of a London motorcyclist who crashed into a bollard after skidding in the rain has ordered Transport for London (TfL) to undertake an “urgent” review of the blue paint used on the surface of the capital’s older Cycle Superhighways.
Milan Dokic, aged 49, was killed in the crash on 1 March last year at the junction of Battersea Park Road and Forfar Road when he lost control of his bike, a pre-inquest hearing was told last month, reports the London Evening Standard.
In a prevention of future deaths report sent to TfL, Dr Fiona Wilcox said that “there is a risk that future deaths will occur” and demanded “an urgent review of all areas treated with such road surface and replace it with the higher grip surface.”
The full inquest into Mr Dokic’s death is due to take place this summer at Westminster Coroner’s Court, and Dr Wilcox said: "These concerns are too urgent to wait until the full hearing of the evidence to be addressed.”
The motorcyclist had moved onto Cycle Superhighway 8, which was one of the first such routes when it opened in 2011, as he prepared to undertake a van.
“The CCTV clearly shows the motorcycle losing grip and sliding along the road,” the coroner wrote in her report to TfL.
“Sadly, Mr Dokic came off and hit a bollard, sustaining injuries that led to his death at the scene.”
Dr Wilcox revealed that a separate inquest will concern another death that took place in Battersea “in slightly different circumstances … where low grip on the [cycle superhighway] may have played a part.”
At the pre-inquest hearing, which took place on 14 February, a collision investigator said that the surface of Cycle Superhighway 8, painted blue to reflect the former sponsorship of the routes by Barclays, had a skid resistance of 56.3, while the conventional road surface had one of 77.
Dr Wilcox said some cyclists had talked about a lack of grip on parts of the superhighway, which runs between Westminster and Wandsworth.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Milan Dokic,” said Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport. “We’re preparing our response to the coroner and carefully considering the issues raised.
"We are confident our cycle superhighway network is improving the safety of London’s roads,” he added.
A study published last month in the academic journal Accident Analysis & Prevention with the title Safety effects of the London Cycle Superhighways on cycle collisions claimed that the infrastructure, where not featuring physical segregation, had not caused a change in cycle collision rates.
Researchers from Imperial College said: “The increase in traffic was associated with a rise in annual total cycle collisions of around 2.6 per km (38% in percentage).
“However, when we re-estimate the effects based on cycle collision rates rather than levels, our results also show that the CS routes are not more dangerous or safer than the control roads.
They added “Among the four CS routes, CS3 performs the best in protecting cyclists with a large proportion of segregated lanes whilst the cyclists have to share the lanes with motorists on other routes. It is recommended that consistent safety designs should be applied on all CS routes for a safer cycling environment.”
At the inquest in 2013 into the death of cyclist Brian Dorling at Bow Roundabout in October 2011, police collision investigator PC Alex Hewitt was asked by Coroner Mary Hassell about the status of the Cycle Superhighway where the rider was crushed to death by a lorry as he rode to work at the Olympic Park and replied, “Legally nothing. It’s just a piece of blue paint.”
Ms 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.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.