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Croydon cyclist breaks wrist after hitting base of cycle lane wand removed by council

Richard Lander says that hazard is a potential “death trap” for cyclists

A Croydon cyclist ​sustained a broken wrist after crashing into the base of a cycle lane wand that had been removed by the council, apparently on the orders of the London borough’s mayor – and has warned that the hazard is a potential “death trap.”

Inside Croydon reports that Richard Lander needed to have a steel plate inserted in his wrist and take more than a month off work to recover following his crash, in which he also suffered severe bruising and his bike was damaged.

Richard Lander's bike

Mr Lander, a member of the London Cycling Campaign, is reportedly now considering taking legal action against the local authority.

The wands, which had been installed in March on a cycle lane on the busy Brighton Road and were paid for by money secured from the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund, were subsequently removed at the behest of Conservative Mayor Jason Perry, who is said to be opposed to cycle lanes.

The removal of wands elsewhere has also seen the “defender bases” affixed to the road surface also removed, as happened in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea when it controversially scrapped wand-protected cycle lanes on Kensington High Street a matter of weeks after they had been installed in late 2020.

There, the only sign that the cycle lanes had been in place were drill holes showing where the plates supporting the wands had been, and which were flush with the road surface, thus presenting no hazard to those cyclists who continued to use the route once the infrastructure had been removed.

That does not appear to be the case in Croydon, however, and as the website points out, while the defender bases would be clearly visible during the daytime, on a dark, wet evening such as that in which Mr Lander crashed, that is far from the case.

Cycle lane with defender base (picture credit Richard Lander)

The IT project manager says that he was cycling into the centre of Croydon when he had to pull out to pass a vehicle that had been parked on the no-longer-wand-protected cycle lane – and hit one of the defender bases, causing him to come off his bike.

Mr Lander, who was featured on our sister website eBikeTips recently when he was told to remove his converted e-bike from a train, told us that he was “riding on the cycle lane, approaching a stopped bus at the bus stop,” and “pulled out into the main carriageway to overtake,” when he “collided with a cycle lane ;marker’ brick.

He said he was “thrown off the bike,” and “tumbled down the road” as a result of the crash on the evening of Friday 3 November.

He told road.cc that the black cycle lane divider had “no markings, no reflectors, no cats’ eyes” and that it was “totally invisible in the dark.”

Mr Lander continued: “The invisible brick is a really serious hazard. It’s ironic that it is intended for cycle safety, but it has resulted in a nasty accident.

“It seems that they start off with reflectors, that get knocked off by traffic until only the black brick remains. Surely there is some responsibility for road furniture markings ?

“The injuries could have been much worse,” he went on. “Thankfully no serious head injury, the worst avoided by wearing a cycle helmet. Thankfully no ricochet, no knock on injuries from other vehicles or street furniture. Off work for a month or more.”

He was treated for his injuries at Croydon Hospital A&E, and said that “despite the busy queues, I received very professional attention - examination, x-ray, consultation, plaster cast, more x-ray, cleared to leave by midnight.

“Croydon Hospital continued to provide excellent services, with an operation on Tuesday 7th November, repairing the broken bones with a surgical plate,” he added.

According to Inside Croydon, there is a CCTV camera at the exact spot close to South Croydon bus garage where Mr Lander – who said that he was lucky not to have fallen into the path of any vehicle that may have been passing at the time – had his fall.

However, his efforts to obtain relevant footage were rebuffed, with the local authority replying that after having “checked the date and time of this incident, unfortunately the incident was not captured on CCTV. Sorry That we are unable to assisted [sic] you further,” despite the council’s own website stating that CCTV operates on a 24/7 basis with footage retained for 31 days.

The Metropolitan Police Service is also said to have declined to investigate the crash, leaving Mr Lander with civil action as his only remedy – as Inside Croydon points out, as an LCC member, he is entitled to free legal advice from its solicitors, with the campaign group stating on its website that “depending on the facts of your case, if the accident was caused by another party (such as a local authority) not properly discharging their duty of care and causing a highway defect or hazard, it is possible to seek damages from them for injury”.

In the meantime, the cyclist has contacted the council official who was responsible for the design of the wand-protected cycle lane, who has referred the matter to the local authority’s highways team.

Simon joined road.cc 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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22 comments

Avatar
downfader | 8 months ago
3 likes

I had a similar injury in Sept 2022 (still suffering it today) where the council removes infra (this time lighting) from a cycle route and caused me to crash out (slow motion style but was kind of picked up and body slammed into the ground like a wrestler).

They installed these "wands" down here in Southampton last year too. Half of them have been driven over already and not replaced. As the guy in the article says - there is no reflective material in the base - surely anyone doing a risk assessment should be fired for not assuming these devices are useless, and yet ignoring their design fault and installing regardless?

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Left_is_for_Losers | 8 months ago
2 likes

Not much different to a pothole is it. If you can't see these, then you probably cant see a pot hole and the chances are it would happen then too. Both are down to council negligence. 

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a1white replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 8 months ago
7 likes

except there is a case to be made that this is worse. The council actually installed this hazard on the road.

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squired | 8 months ago
1 like

I have to admit that I'm in two minds about this one, as someone who lives a mere few hundred metres from where the incident happened.

Removing the wands makes no sense, other than for the fact that the mayor doesn't want the lanes there.  Very near to where the accident happened there is a base that stops cars undertaking cars waiting to turn right.  I'd say that 99% of the day there is no queue to turn right, but for certain "busy" periods there can be.  Of course locals complain and say the blocks need to be removed because an ambulance might be held up and lives could be put at risk due to the delay. Ultimately they just don't like having to wait in the single lane.

Anyway, back to this accident.  I can totally understand someone not used to cycling along that road getting caught out, particularly at night.  However, if someone uses it regularly you know that the blocks are there without wands and you know how regularly they are spaced.  You also (sadly) expect lots of cars parked in the cycle lane.  The whole time I cycle I am always paying attention to the road because of things like broken glass and potholes, so I am slightly surprised this guy was caught out. 

The conditions wouldn't have helped and I can imagine the troubles he has been through.  I'm six months on from having a bad shoulder break after being hit by someone on an e-scooter while cycling home and am still some way from being back to normal, so his troubles are not lost on me.  It sounds like he fared better with the local hospital than I did.  Unlike him, I had to wait two and a half weeks before they operated the first time and am now three weeks on from a second operation.

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Wheelywheelygood | 8 months ago
1 like

I fully understand this, I see events every day where bikers ride along totally oblivious to everything around them . I regularly have bikes run into my wheelchair on pavements and if they claim not to be able to see a full grown man in a chair perhaps we need sight and mental compentensy tests before bikers can ride in public .i wish I had a camera on my chair then I could post the silly things I see , most people won't believe them as they are so dangerous that people in their right mind just would not do

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perce replied to Wheelywheelygood | 8 months ago
9 likes

Gosh. You must be the unluckiest bloke on the internet.

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mark1a replied to Wheelywheelygood | 8 months ago
6 likes

What? Again?

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HoldingOn replied to Wheelywheelygood | 8 months ago
3 likes

Wheelywheelygood wrote:

i wish I had a camera on my chair then I could post the silly things I see , most people won't believe them as they are so dangerous that people in their right mind just would not do

You can download a dashcam app to your phone. Not ideal, I know, but it would do in a pinch. I'm sure the police would be happy to increase foot patrols in the area once they see footage of the dangerous cycling - especially if they are cycling into you.

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Hirsute replied to Wheelywheelygood | 8 months ago
8 likes

Get a camera then. If I'd been crashed into as many times as you, I'd been wanting evidence to support a criminal investigation and civil claim.
Unless it's all bullshit of course.

I think most people have seen dash cam videos on YouTube and are fully aware of the reckless behaviour of road users, including the police.

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chrisonabike replied to Wheelywheelygood | 8 months ago
3 likes

Presumably they were dressed in black and had no lights while undertaking cars to jump the red light to get onto the pavements to hit people there?

I do actually see some pretty stupid and sometimes dangerous behaviour around lights and crossings.  Most - but not all - is (food) delivery riders.

I take this as an indication that delivery firms are not setting sufficient incentives (or any?) for their contractors staff to use the roads legally or indeed responsibly.  Also that people on bikes don't like stopping and waiting if they think the way is clear, just like people not on bikes.  However cyclists face a particular energetic penalty for stopping which doesn't trouble pedestrians and motorists*.

Fortunately there's a simple way to improve this situation and garner additional benefits.

* Because the first always have high friction and low momentum, and the latter aren't doing any work other than putting their foot down and maybe moving their arm a little.

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Jj1234 | 8 months ago
0 likes

I get this is an infuriating case, the council acted wrongfully in multiple ways, and the whole episode feels like a very personal physical let down about local government. It's like being in a hospital and being seriously injured by appalling negligence and then they can't even bothered to process the complaint properly or produce records. Re the latter, a solicitor (go to a GOOD firm like Irwin Mitchell who don't just do no win no fee but also are famously good with public law) will tell you that failure to produce evidence counts against not for the council. It will be no win no fee if you have a case I think.

I have one pedantic niggle. "The Metropolitan Police Service is also said to have declined to investigate the crash. " What specifically criminal liability could lie for the crash? None I think. Isn't the only potential criminal avenue the common law criminal offence of public nuisance? In the case the idea of the police's involvement is silly because it's an exceptional form of offence and the primary purpose of that measure is to remove the nuisance. It's unnecessary because the council is absolutely steel-bound by its public law obligations to not injure. Chances are it was removed within 24hrs.

I do think you sound truly shaken by this incident in a deep way. It was good that you got this story out. I think your next avenues are formal complaint and going to a good firm for no win no fee injury. You could if concerned about the systemic issue of these in your borough, ring the HSE advice line who may tell you to formally complain to the council and ring them back if the response is unsatisfactory. Good luck and make sure you let others do the hard legal work which is always a technical specialism even within the legal field itself.

You will probably win, I hope you get a good award, and an apology, and that you enjoy every penny. You deserve it.

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Hirsute | 8 months ago
6 likes

Can't believe they left those in.
Reminds me of the cycle lane at a roundabout in shepperton where the line was many layers of plastic. If you hit that, you were coming off.
They got rid it in the end.

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bigwheeler88 replied to Hirsute | 8 months ago
6 likes

I can fully believe they left them in. I have cycled enough times through Croydon to tell you that it's not just the murderous drivers that want you dead, but the council too.

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mattw | 8 months ago
12 likes

This is further proof that half-arsed infra is worth than useless.

Do it once and do it correctly; take more investment or time as required.

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Born_peddling | 8 months ago
0 likes

Hmm suing the local authority is a good idea however a direct suit against the pro car mayor would bring better media coverage.....would be interesting when reporters start questioning why not remove the wand bases £10 bet it was extra cost to remove the bases....watch this space am finding this mayors home address anyone up for wand mischief????

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brooksby replied to Born_peddling | 8 months ago
3 likes

Born_peddling wrote:

Hmm suing the local authority is a good idea however a direct suit against the pro car mayor would bring better media coverage.....would be interesting when reporters start questioning why not remove the wand bases £10 bet it was extra cost to remove the bases....watch this space am finding this mayors home address anyone up for wand mischief????

Doxxing is (almost) never a good thing 

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Jj1234 replied to Born_peddling | 8 months ago
0 likes

What legal responsibility does the mayor have for the Council's wrongs?

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JohnP_SM7 | 8 months ago
9 likes

Sadly, this report doesn't surprise me at all.  I mostly work from home but my office is in central Croydon and I usually cycle there twice a week.  My route home, in the summer at least, often takes me down Brighton Road where this incident took place.  

From the start the wands that were in place rapidly disappeared and I'd say only about a third of them are actually still in place - the missing ones leave the black bases just waiting to cause an accident.  It seems there has been no effort to replace the missing wands.

In my opinion Croydon Council have no interest in improving their roads for cyclists.  I believe incidents like this will ultimately be used by them to say "Sorry, we tried our best,  but it doesn't work" giving them an excuse to rip out the bike lanes and let the wankpanzers have totally free rein of the roads again.

Another example of their dangerous cycling "infrastructure" is quite close to where Mr Lander had his crash,  and is highlighted by CycleGaz in his video on youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq2Ai8XMdcA  Before being modified to the current form as in the video, the junction was only moderately hazardous.  Now I regard it as positively dangerous and I modified my route to avoid turning right there.

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mrb | 8 months ago
3 likes

Every solicitor worth their money will take this case on. It's a 100% win for the cyclist.

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chrisonabike replied to mrb | 8 months ago
8 likes

Given the trouble an "optical illusion" cycle lane can apparently cause, or that many of the people who drive motor vehicles can't see something as big as a cyclist even when clad in wild colours, if the council has left these in the carriageway I'm surprised there's an able-bodied individual left.

This is actually worse than "paint and signs as infra".  Not only useless at its supposed task but it increases danger to vulnerable road users.

Maybe the council feel the War on the Motorist is going so badly they need to set traps for those not in motor vehicles?

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eburtthebike replied to mrb | 8 months ago
0 likes

mrb wrote:

Every solicitor worth their money will take this case on. It's a 100% win for the cyclist.

No such thing in law as a guaranteed win, and any solicitor promising it is a fool.

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mrb replied to eburtthebike | 8 months ago
0 likes

I will wager that this man will win the case before it even gets to court. The councils insurance officer will want to settle before the costs escalate.

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