Case Study

Female cyclist killed during London rush hour (08/04/13)

A female cyclist was killed in Monday morning’s London rush hour traffic, reportedly following a collision with a tipper lorry on Victoria Street.

The incident happened at around 8.20am close to the junction with Palace Street.

A spokeswoman for London Ambulance Service told the newspaper: “We were called at 8.20 to reports of a road traffic collision on Victoria Street.

“We sent a motorcycle responder, an ambulance crew and a duty officer to the scene. The first arrived in 3 minutes.

“Sadly the patient, a woman reported to be in her 30s, was dead at the scene.”

It is believed that the lorry involved was a tipper truck, and several major construction projects are being undertaken in the area.

While full details are yet to be confirmed, this morning’s incident appears to underline some sadly all too common features of cyclist fatalities in the capital.

According to London Cycling Campaign, lorries account for 5 per cent of the city’s traffic, but are involved in half of incidents that result in a cyclist being killed.

Construction lorries are involved in many of those fatal incidents, and a disproportionate number of victims are young females.

  • UPDATE 10/04/13

The cyclist killed was Dr Katharine Giles, a research fellow and lecturer at the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at UCL. She leaves behind a small family.

She is thought to have cycled the route she was killed on for a decade.

  • UPDATE 02/01/14

There will be no prosecution as a result of Dr Giles’ death. An inquest into her death will be held on 03/01/14.

  • UPDATE 06/01/14

The inquest concluded that Dr Giles died after she rode into the lorry’s blind spot as it waited to turn left at the junction.

Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe emphasised that she didn’t want to put blame on either the cyclist or the driver but said she wished to highlight the danger of cycling up the near-side of lorries.

CCTV clearly showed the incident. The tipper truck, loaded with earth and soil from an adjacent construction site, had its left indicator on and an audible warning that it was going to turn left.

Truck driver James Matovu was “oblivious” to the collision, the coroner said, and only stopped further up Victoria Street when he was flagged down by an off-duty police officer. He got out of his cab and ran back to the scene.

Det Sgt Matt Austin, of the Met police, said officers had decided there was insufficient evidence of any offence being committed by the driver to give a “realistic prospect of conviction”. As a result, the case was not referred to the Crown Prosecution Service.

CTC's view: 

Cycling up the near-side of large vehicles is indeed a dangerous thing to do, however, simply mixing cyclists with large vehicles on busy urban roads is inherently dangerous. This case demonstrates that multiple safety devices fitted to lorries are not the solution to curb cyclists’ deaths in London. Reducing the volume of large vehicles on the roads at peak times, providing cycle training for drivers of large vehicles and for cyclists and creating safe cycling infrastructure are also extremely important.

In all cases involving death the case file should be passed on to the CPS for review and for direction to be given to road collision investigators.

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