Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The death of a cyclist

An inquest was held on Friday into the death of Paul Hendrich, who I think was probably the first cyclist to be killed by a lorry in London this year. The report of the inquest in the local paper raises various questions and issues. I don’t know the site where the cyclist died, so it’s not clear whether or not there was a cycle lane involved.

The accident happened on Battersea Park Road at the junction with Prince of Wales Drive where the lorry driver stopped and became distracted by a silver car turning around in front.

The type of lorry involved is not described. The inquest concluded that it was just an accident. The cyclist allegedly undertook the lorry and collided with the side of it.

It is not at all clear to me how an experienced cyclist managed to ‘clip’ the side of a lorry. The only vehicles I’ve ever clipped are cars, specifically the wing mirrors of cars which suddenly and unexpectedly lurched left into the cycle lane. Many car wing mirrors are at the same height as bike handlebars.

The lorry driver “did not check his close proximity mirrors because he was very near the curb and assumed no-one was there”.

After the impact with the lorry the cyclist fell on to railings, which underlines once again how lethal they are and why they need to be removed. The railings threw the cyclist back under the wheels of the lorry, which presumably had no side protection.

The lorry driver heard the noise caused by him running over Mr Hendrich but did not immediately stop: “I heard a metallic noise which I assumed was a problem with my load at the back. I thought I’d get past the junction and then stop.”

The coroner recorded a verdict of death resulting from a road traffic accident at Westminster Coroner’s Court on Friday.