Superhighway blue paint is not adequate says coroner’s report into cycling deaths at Aldgate and Bow roundabout

Coroner Mary Hassell has told the Mayor Boris Johnson that “unbordered blue strips” of paint on the Cycle Superhighway 2 are “confusing” and lull cyclists “into a false sense of security”.

Her ‘Prevention of Future Deaths’ report into the fatalities of Brian Dorling and Philippine de Gerin-Ricard also says vehicle lanes that are partly painted blue - which have no legal status - confuse motorists and could encourage them to ignore similar-looking mandatory cycle lanes where they exist.

At the inquest earlier this month, the coroner said Cycle Superhighway 2 was an "accident waiting to happen".

Read the report

LCC's Mike Cavenett, speaking to BBC reporter Tom Edwards (pictured above) at Aldgate, said: "This report clearly says that blue paint is not enough.

"Londoners cycling on streets where there are thousands of motor vehicles per day, many of them HGVs, need protected space for cycling."

Brian Dorling, 58, died in October 2011 when struck by a left-turning lorry at Bow roundabout as he travelled along one of the Mayor’s flagship Cycle Superhighways.

French student Philippine de Gerin-Ricard, 20, died when she was struck by a lorry on the Superhighway in Aldgate in July 2013.

The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death in both instances.

Her report also said the Mayor should consider ”innovative solutions” to improve the junction of Whitechapel High Street and Commercial Street (where Ms de Gerin-Ricard was hit), which remains difficult to negotiate, and that more should be done to educate cyclists and motorists about safe riding techniques.

In her conclusion, the coroner said: "In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe that you and TfL have the power to take such action."

The Mayor has a legal requirement to respond to the coroner’s report within 56 days.

Coroner's three Matters of Concern

The Coroner, Mary Hassell, raised three Matters of Concern

1.  Blue paint used where there is no cycle lane so that:-

  • Cyclists wrongly assume they have priority and are safer
  • Cyclists are led to ride in the wrong part of road
  • Motorists wrongly assume cyclists must be on the blue surface
  • Motorists are confused about safe driving position in a narrow lane, or
  • Motorists drive all over blue lanes ignoring cyclists

"Thus, cyclists riding in cycle lanes elsewhere in London and the rest of the country, are put in greater danger."

2.   More could be done to educate cyclists and motorists. Safer riding techniques such as "taking the lane" and not riding on the left but sometimes more towards the middle are sometimes the safest option. That allows motorists to see cyclists and drive appropriately.

The dangers of a cycle overtaking vehicular traffic on the inside in the approach to a junction, cannot be over stressed,

3.    Innovative solutions need to be considered to provide a safer route through Aldgate junction. As well as innovation with infrastructure, new technologies need to be considered for lorries allowing the driver to easily detect the presence of cyclists on the road.

Mary Hassell was appointed Senior Coroner for Inner Noth London in May this year. She is first coroner in the UK to be selected by the new chief coroner, Judge Peter Thornton QC, following a rigorous two-week interview process.

Formerly she was coroner for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. She was among the top three coroners in the UK for sending reports, such as the Prevention of Future Deaths report she has just sent to the Mayor.

Everyone at the two recent inquests into cyclists' deaths was impressed with the coroner's handling of the cases.

LCC's Charlie Lloyd commented: "this is the first time I have seen families of victims come away from court feeling that a full investigation had been made, that the right questions had been asked, even if the correct answers are yet to be discovered."

Ms Hassell replaced Dr Andrew Reid who resigned over a year ago after it was revealed that he had appointed his unqualified wife as a deputy coroner.

Lorry crushes cyclist in Camden High Street yesterday

A woman on a bicycle was hit by a left-turning tipper lorry on Camden High Street yesterday.

The lady was conscious when taken to hospital, but is reported to be in a critical condition with severe pelvic injuries. 

The collision took place on a one-way street with four lanes of motor traffic with no protected space for cycling.