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Death of French student struck by lorry while riding Boris Bike "accidental"

TfL once again under the spotlight in week's second inquest into death of cyclist in London...

A verdict of accidental death has been recorded in relation to a French student who was killed by a lorry while riding a Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme bike at Aldgate on 7 July this year.

The verdict followed an inquest yesterday in which Philippine de Gerin-Ricard’s family watched harrowing footage of the moment she sustained the injuries that led to her death.

The 20-year-old, in London for a year on a work placement as part of her French university course, was the first person to be killed while riding one of the capital’s hire bikes in the three years since it was launched in July 2010.

The fatal incident took place on Barclays Cycle Superhighway 2 (CS2), which runs from Aldgate to Bow.

The inquest, at Poplar Coroner’s Court, was presided over by the same coroner who 24 hours earlier had said that she was delivering a narrative verdict in the case of Brian Dorling, killed at the Bow end of CS2 in October 2011.

As in that inquest, Transport for London (TfL) came under heavy criticism from the Metropolitan Police regarding the layout of the junction and the inadequacy of cycle safety provisions of CS2 itself, reports the London Evening Standard.

The newspaper reported that a redesign of the Aldgate gyratory system by TfL had resulted in a near-side lane that was 3 metres wide.

According to the Metropolitan Police, the lorry involved in the incident was 2.4 metres wide, while the handlebars of the Barclays Cycle Hire bike that Ms De Gerin-Ricard was riding extended 67 centimetres.

Police also said that Ms De Gerin-Ricard had mostly been in the lorry’s mirrors’ blind spot and would only have been visible for 3.72 seconds.

Proceedings were briefly suspended by Coroner Mary Hassell after the victim’s mother, Anne, left the room after twice watching CCTV footage of the moment her daughter was dragged underneath the lorry.

She died an hour later with medical staff from the Royal London Hospital unable to save her life.

TfL’s lawyer suggested to Mrs De Gerin-Ricard that it had been the lack of high-visibility clothing that had led to her daughter’s death.

In what was described as an angry response, she told the coroner: “The accident Philippine had was the straw that broke the camel's back.

"There is a problem with cycle lanes. If anything had been done, it hadn't been helpful to cyclists.

"I have heard that the clothing cyclists wear, and Philippine was wearing, was discussed here.

"In fact, what needs to be tackled is the provision of proper lanes for cyclists, so that cyclists are protected."

Witness Richard Brown, a bus driver, described how the cyclist “seemed to wobble slightly.”

He added: “At one point she fell backwards and came over more to her right side, into the road.”

The coroner asked him what he believed the cause of the collision was. He replied: “I really feel there was not sufficient space for Philippine to attempt to pass the lorry.

“If there is going to be a cycle route it needs to be kerbed off or some kind of similar arrangement, particularly at busy junctions like Aldgate.”

Giving evidence, lorry driver Richard James, who said he was aware of cyclists and regularly checked for them, maintained he had not seen Ms De Gerin-Ricard before his vehicle struck her.

He said: “I became aware of a tinkling sound, a rattling, which I thought was my mirrors catching on the scaffolding.

“Then I see what had happened. I see in the mirror that a young lady was tumbling back off her bike.”

Following the inquest, the victim’s father shook hands with the lorry driver.

He was reported on Twitter by BBC London transport correspondent Tom Edwards to have “looked him straight in the eye while doing it,” in what appears to be an acknowledgment that the family does not hold him Mr James to blame.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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