Cyclists’ death trap on cycle lane in Lambeth?

I think a comment LindaH wrote in another post deserves more publicity. She’s describing a severe crash  on Cavendish Road in Lambeth on Sunday, 31 July around 11am. Apparently, this accident has not been reported yet. At least, neither Linda nor me were able to find additional information about the crash. (In the meantime, the Evening Standard published a brief story about the accident.)

Update: Sadly, according to this report, the crash was fatal. A female cyclist – later named as  Johannah Bailey, 49  was killed by a van. It raises the number of cyclists killed in Greater London this year to twelve, at least two more died just outside of the M25 (details about all crashes are available here)

The Met Police is still looking for witnesses of the collusion, as Detective Sergeant Philip Hames from the Road Death Investigation Unit at Hampton Traffic Garage stresses in a comment on this blog:

I would encourage anybody who has not yet given a statement to contact myself DS Phil Hames or DC Rob Hill on 020 8247 6985 or phil.hames@met.police.uk.

So please, please – if anyone saw something and did not already talk to police, get in touch with them.

Philip Hames also writes that  the Traffic Management Unit from Merton Traffic Garage will be examining the junction and making suggestions regarding road safety to the local authority. This really sounds like encouraging news.

Update II: Following a discussion on Cycle Chat, a cyclist (“Origamist“) made two videos of the location where the crash apparently happend. From Nigels’ comment I glean that the cyclist was travelling southbound. Hence, this clip probably shows here way.

After about 10 or 11 seconds, you can spot the collision investigators’ marking in the middle of the road.

Here’s the scene seen from the opposite direction, the markings in the middle of the road can be seen at seconds 14 and 15.

A sad irony is that cycling campaigners identified the street where the accident happened as particularly dangerous three years ago:

An inspection ride that took place in 2008, attended by local London Cycling Campaign members, identified the section of London Cycle Network+ Route 5 (LCN+ 5) between Poynders Road and Abbeville Road as a major problem.

A full review “to determine how the junction should be redesigned” was recommended (CRISP, 24 June 2008).

LCC’s Mike Cavenett lives nearby: “This is a junction I avoid because it includes dangerous right turns in both directions. It’s long needed a major redesign to reduce danger for cyclists.”

In extremely poignant comments to this post, several eyewitness – Sara (here and here), Tania and Nigel – gave more details about what happened on Sunday.

Sara wrote:

This horrendous accident happened about 25 feet in front of my car and unfortunately the woman died instantly, although paramedics continued to work on her for 30 minutes. She was hit by a large white van just after the bend before Englewood Road which threw her up in the air and then ran over her – she didn’t stand a chance. Please please be careful cycling as what I witnessed will never leave me.

Tania, who was behind the white van, wrote:

I just don’t understand what the white van was doing in the middle of the road; well it’s a bit of a blur. I don’t think he was speeding, we weren’t, and he couldn’t have been doing more than 30. It’s very confusing as to why he drove over the island. When we re-visited the scene yesterday I did notice when cars turned the corner they did drive over the white lines in the middle (island).

We were clueless on what to do – in shock, there was this lady and man, they totally took control of the situation before the medics arrived, my husband just ran up and down, at first she had a pulse and was breathing, which was a relief, but then, well…

My thoughts are with the driver, I know he might have been in the wrong, but as a driver, I know how easy it is to be distracted (no excuse though). To look at his face and see the horror of what he had just did will stay with me, his first reaction was to cover her modesty, by taking off his tshirt and putting it over her, I was touched by this. He looked sooo lost, tears come to my eyes just remembering his moments, some kind lady was sitting down with him and talking to him (I had to stay in my van as I have a 10month old baby).

This is what Linda wrote:

Yesterday morning, yet another cyclist was the victim of a horrific accident, this time on Cavendish Road SW4. The accident took place just after 11am on Sunday 31 July. I cycled by minutes later, as passersby were applying emergency chest compressions, and as ambulance and police crews arrived on the scene. I have not been able to find out further details, so do not know whether the woman cyclist survived. I do know, however, that the South Circular was closed off until at least mid-afternoon.

The accident happened on a particularly dangerous section of the South Circular for cyclists in Lambeth. It is just east of Clapham Common, where Cavendish Road curves and then turns into Poynders Road. Traffic moves through here often at ridiculous speed and, because of the turns, drivers are less likely to see cyclists than elsewhere.

I have pointed Ross Lydall, Chief News Correspondent with the Evening Standard and an avid cyclist himself, on Twitter towards this horrific accident. I hope the Standards picks it up (they did, albeit very briefly)

Since I live in North London, I’m not too familiar with the area and the road design.

However, what Linda writes really sounds hair raising:

Incredibly, a blue cycle route directs cyclists onto this very section of road where, coming up Cavendish Road from Tooting Bec Common, they have to maneuver across 2 lanes of fast moving traffic, stop in the road on the bend to wait for oncoming traffic to pass, cross that lane and turn into Abbeyville Road, where frequently there is traffic impatient to pull out into the main road.

This short section of ‘cycle route’ has long been a death scene waiting to happen, and I hope that yesterday’s accident has not already earned it this terrible title. The cyclist involved was on the ground, with her bicycle smashed to bits several yards away, in exactly this spot as I passed by.

This is a heavily used cycle route, and this accident is the most graphic, tragic evidence of the need for urgent change to this spot.

As Linda describes, there would be an easy fix:

The solution is clear: a cyclists’ crossing is needed at this turning, taking them up onto the very wide pavement on the opposite side of the street, with a ramp into Trouville Rd SW4, leading to Elms Crescent rather than Abbeville Rd. From Elms, cyclists can continue on into Narbonne Avenue, which is already on the cycle route. As is clear from today’s events, this small change to the route is needed urgently, and will undoubtedly save many more injuries and lives. I hope today’s tragic accident at least can be the spur to correct this terrible situation.

For me, this raises several questions:

  • Does anyone have more information about the crash that happened on Sunday 31 July?
  • Why has this not been reported by the media?
  • Which authority / press office should know about this? (I’m German and moved to London only 1.5 years ago. Hence, I’m not too familiar with the bureaucracy in the UK. In Germany, I’d just call the police’s press office )
  • Are there other cyclists who share Linda’s view about the bad road design in the area?
  • Can anyone who lives in that area make some photos of the spot?
I’m happy about any help. And my best wishes go to the cyclist who got knocked down in Lambeth on Sunday.
.
Update: An earlier version of this post claimed that the accident has happened on a Cycle Superhighway. As Dan rightly notes, this is not the case. Apologies!
Update II: Initially, I also got the date wrong. The accident happened on 31 JULY 2011, not – as originally stated – on 31 August. I learned this thanks to a comment by Anon.  Apologies, again.
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31 thoughts on “Cyclists’ death trap on cycle lane in Lambeth?

      1. Sara

        This horrendous accident happened about 25 feet in front of my car and unfortunately the woman died instantly, although paramedics continued to work on her for 30 minutes. She was hit by a large white van just after the bend before Englewood Road which threw her up in the air and then ran over her – she didn’t stand a chance. Please please be careful cycling as what I witnessed will never leave me.

      2. Oh dear. You are probably already in touch with the police, aren’t you?

        Was there anything the cyclist could have done differently or was it just an incredible amount of bad luck?

  1. Shreds

    For future reference Olaf, the Police are likely to be the best for information in such situations, usually their control room.
    The media probably are still in bed on Sundays, hence they will miss stories unless it involves celebraties.
    Yes, the road is one to avoid. I regularly spin the bike around this area and not only get off to cross in this area, but often have to run to avoid being mown down.
    Does it surprise me a van involved, no. The generally poor standard of driving , agressiveness and speed of vans (skip and scaffolding lorries) leaves a lot to
    be desired.
    RIP

    1. Sara

      Yes, I was the main witness with another guy, although not sure exactly what he saw as it was all very distressing. The reason I was searching the net for this story was to try and get some answers myslef. Unfortunately I didn’t see anything preceeding impact. I just saw the van hit her. I can’t quite understand how it happened as there aren’t that many obstructions in the road and although there is a bend you can still see quite clearly. The van must have been travelling fairly quickly because of the severity of the impact, however there were no screeching brakes and he stopped very very quickly, 20-30ft away so difficult to understand. She was not wearing a helmet but the paramedics told me it wouldn’t have mattered. I am still in severe shock and wish more than anything for a different outcome. I keep thinking about her poor family.

      1. Sara, I can only imagine how you feel and really appreciate your comments. This is very, very sad. Let’s hope there’s some CCTV coverage of that area. In other cases, that gave some very important insights (example)

  2. Sobering news and thoughts go out to any family.

    I don’t think it’s a Superhighway – it’s one of the old blue-signposted cycle routes. The CS7 runs on Balham High Street/Balham Hill/Clapham Common South Side (visible on your map).

    An accident in that area doesn’t surprise me as I was confronted on Friday evening (29/7) by a driver turning off of Cavendish Road and attempting to cross Clapham Common by driving the wrong way through the one-way system directly into my path.

    1. Dan, many thanks for this pointer. I’ve corrected the headline. Apologies – as I write in my post: I live in the north and I’m not too familiar with the area where the crash happend.

  3. Tania

    Very sad to say that we were behind the white van that hit her, so sad, totally traumatized by the event (we were in a green van). She didn’t stand a chance. Her bike was in 3 pieces. We went to revisit the scene yesterday to pay our respects, and try and figure out how it happened. The event keeps replaying in my head. I just don’t understand what the white van was doing in the middle of the road; well it’s a bit of a blur. I don’t think he was speeding, we weren’t, and he couldn’t have been doing more than 30. It’s very confusing as to why he drove over the island. When we re-visited the scene yesterday I did notice when cars turned the corner they did drive over the white lines in the middle (island).

    We were clueless on what to do – in shock, there was this lady and man, they totally took control of the situation before the medics arrived, my husband just ran up and down, at first she had a pulse and was breathing, which was a relief, but then, well…

    My thoughts are with the driver, I know he might have been in the wrong, but as a driver, I know how easy it is to be distracted (no excuse though). To look at his face and see the horror of what he had just did will stay with me, his first reaction was to cover her modesty, by taking off his tshirt and putting it over her, I was touched by this. He looked sooo lost, tears come to my eyes just remembering his moments, some kind lady was sitting down with him and talking to him (I had to stay in my van as I have a 10month old baby).

    I just want to also add she wasn’t wearing a helmet, I think in this instance it might have helped, however my husband thinks it wouldn’t have made any difference.

    And most dearly, my thoughts are with her family/friends, so tragic.

    1. Sara

      I remember seeing your green van (we were in the Lexus 4×4 that stayed parked in the road) and I think it must have been your husband that i was referring to as a witness. To be honest i was taken in to a house after about 5 mins as i passed out from the shock so didn’t re-emerge until nearly an hour later after i was treated by paramedics and had spoken to the police. The driver was in the middle of the road which was really odd but i couldn’t figure out whether he had swerved there or not as i didn’t see anything but the impact – the driver was coming towards us. I agree with you about thoughts being with the driver as whoever’s fault it was (maybe nobody’s) he certainly didn’t set out that morning to kill someone. He looked absolutely terrible afterwards and went grey and I imagine he will never get over this.

    2. Tania, your account is heartbreaking. As somebody wrote on Cycle Chat, reading that “makes my stomach go tight”.

      In an effort to overcome my feeling of helplessness, I just booked a first aid course with the British Red Cross.

      On cycle chat, there’s also a discussion about the flawed road design where the crash happend. Does anyone know if the cyclist was northbound or southbound?

      The “Evening Standard” has just published a brief note on the crash, BTW.

  4. Pingback: Report of fatal crash Englewood Road, Clapham - London Fixed-gear and Single-speed

  5. Jozudave

    What an awful tragedy. I live a few doors away from where this accident happened and when I saw the Police I initially thought it was maybe a murder situation.

    I’ve often thought there was potential for an accident there due to the high speed bend, the turn onto the cycle path on Abbeyville Road and the zebra crossing which is also right there, but… I suppose I never actually thought one would happen that was so serious. So sad. I will definitely be writing to the Council and TFL. Stay safe out there everyone.

  6. Nigel

    Unfortunately my wife, daughter and I were there on Sunday in our green van. What we saw will stay with us forever. Turning from “The Ave” by Clapham Common onto “Cavendish road” on the A205 the white van was no more than 80 meters in front of us. His speed\distance was relative to ours up to the bend with the pedestrian crossing. We drive slowly so in my view the white van was not speeding!

    He went out of our sights for no more than a fraction of a second as he took the bend before us. In that time we heard an unbelievable loud bang. Then, (as the road ahead was now in view) we saw the van in the middle of the road and the woman in the air being projected forward at height. She fell to the ground and her lower half seemed to go under the van. The van came to a halt meters from her, the bike in a hundred pieces and that’s were time stopped…

    The moment was of deafening silence where all you can hear is your heart beat in slow motion. As she lay there everyone was wishing that this wasn’t what it was. The man in the van went over to her and his face dropped. He took off his top and cover her as Tania said, I got out, as he moved his white van to park.

    There was a woman and a man with her first…. [Might have been you Sara] who inform that she had a pulse and not to move her. As I walked back to my van I turned around to see that they were trying to revive her, and with that the ambulance came. I would like to express my admiration to you Sara if that was you, for talking control of this very very difficult situation, you were truly incredible!

    As my wife said we returned there last night to reflect on this horrible event. The road position of both the van and cyclist is something we didn’t see at the time of collision. We can only speculate why the van was in the middle of the road but that is something for the Police.

    Having just become a father myself this instance really brought it all home. This woman was someone’s loved little girl. All of our thoughts are with her family and friends.
    Nige

  7. Abbeville Road Resident

    My thougths are with all of you who were there and of course for this dear lady and her family. I live just opposite where this accident happened and arrived home around one o’clock on sunday to find all access closed off and the visible impact of the collision still on the road. It was clear what had happened and the image of the broken bike and ashen police officers has haunted me – I can only imagine what you must have felt. I will keep you all, together with this lady and her family,in my prayers and take comfort from knowing that she was cared for and comforted by you all in her final moments.

    Abbeville Road Resident

  8. Thank you all for your contributions. This is a very sad and unsetteling story, and my thoughts are with the family of the killed cyclist.

    The accounts of the eyewitnesses made one thing very clear to me: All this talk about drivers vs cyclists / cyclists vs. drivers is complete and utter rubbish. We’re all human being, no matter which mode of transportation we use. We all make mistakes, and we all don’t obey to the highway code at all times.

    Let’s treat each other with respect, and let’s all take care.

    Safe journeys!

  9. tara

    How absolutely devastating and a death that could have been avoided if the driver had taken due care and attention. I live in a town in Queensland Australia and came across your comments just now. My husband and daughter are competitive cyclists and train daily. Here in our community we have had 3 cyclists die in 5 weeks hit by cars. It is sad and very tragic. It seems the danger lies on our roads not just here in Australia but all around the world. …… the message should be clear. Cyclists have every right to be riding on our roads. We must all take care at all times to ensure their safety. Perhaps if we all try to get the message out, it could avoid at least one more tragedy in the future.

    Stay safe it is a beautiful world but sooooooo scary.

    Tara

    1. Tara, thanks for your comment. This is really an appalling accident, and too often reckless drivers are killing cyclists (many of them get away with a slap on their wrist, afterwards).

      However, in this particular case, we still don’t know what exactly has happened. So please let us not speculate and jump to conclusions. Neither I nor you know if the driver was reckless and did not take due care and attention or if the cyclist just made a grave mistake. Let’s see what the inquest in the accident will uncover and please don’t forget that most of us are sometimes drivers as well as cyclists. I absolutely agree with regard to your argument that cyclists have the same right to be on the road as cars, and unfortunately not every driver has the same attitude.

      However, I think we should consider the driver innocent until proven guilty.

  10. Ex Hambalt resident

    Hi all

    In my experience something needs to be done to these junctions (Abbeville Road – Cavendish Road & Cavendish Road – Poynders Road) to make them safer for cyclists. This accident just goes to prove it. I used to live in the area (Hambalt Road) and regularly used them in a car and on a bike. Basically what a cyclist has to do here in navigating through this section of Clapham is akin to the computer game frogger.

    Once you have emerged from Abbeville Road heading South (as the first video shows), in order to continue down the cycle highway along Cavendish you have to cross two lanes of quite agressive traffic (the videos both show the section to be quite free of traffic but this is not the case – the South Circular is generally always busy). Once you have crossed these two lanes you are required to wait at the lights. The traffic heading round the South Circular back toward the common comes at you from an odd angle at these lights and quite often vehicles will jump the lights making that junction extremely hazardous.

    Basically the vehicles and cyclists along this road need separating. I believe with the road layout, the speed plus quantity of traffic, the hazards presented to cyclists all add up making it extremely vulnerable to collisions.

    My thoughts go out to the victim, their family, friends and the driver of the van.

  11. JA

    This is a terrible intersection generally. This is not the first cycling accident that has occurred at this intersection and there have been various other car accidents here. About 5 seconds into the first video above you can see a foot-high wall running behind the footpath which has a 5 metre section missing where a car drove into it late last year.

    The speed of the road, being part of the south-circular, the long straight heading south-bound from Clapham Common which precedes the intersection and leads to speeding, the relatively blind corner where the intersection is located, the perceived safety of the centre island and the turn into/out of Abbeville Road all contribute to a dangerous combination.

    I cross here every day, on foot and sometimes on my bike, and now wait for the cars to stop before stepping onto the road as they’re often going too fast and drive straight through.

    I can see the flowers now decorating the street from my window. It’s heartbreaking and too close to home.

  12. Gemma

    I live directly opposite to the site where the accident took place. I was in the lounge with my children and girlfriend when she heard a bang. She went into the kitchen to see what had happened and then she came through and said someone had been in an accident and rushed out immediately (she’s a police officer). A man was with her and then my girlfriend got some scissors and cut off the top of the swimsuit so they could start heart compressions. It was when they turned who I now know as Johanna (I believe she was initially on her side) and I saw the extent of her injuries I knew that it was a severe impact indeed. Her bike was in pieces and one of her shoes was maybe 5 feet away from her. I watched in horror as they fought to save her, the paramedics turned up very quickly and were putting IV’s into her, whilst taking turns giving her chest compressions. Unfortunately they pronounced her dead at about 11:40. I didn’t see the impact so cannot comment on that, but seeing her in the road still stays with me and my partner is still traumatised by it. The Cavendish/Poynders road junction is horrific and as a previous poster said, this has been the fourth accident in under two years – unfortunately the most severe. My thoughts and condolences go out to Johannah, her family and friends.

  13. Phil Hames

    I am Detective Sergeant Philip Hames from the Road Death Investigation Unit at Hampton Traffic Garage.

    Firstly I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Joannah Bailey.
    This incident is being fully investigated by the RDIU at Hampton. I am afraid that the law prevents me from discussing the circumstances of the collision publicly but I have released basic details of the collision to the media.
    As part of the investigation we would like to speak with anybody who has witnessed this collision. I would encourage anybody who has not yet given a statement to contact myself DS Phil Hames or DC Rob Hill on 020 8247 6985 or phil.hames@met.police.uk.
    As part of the investigation the Traffic Management Unit from Merton Traffic Garage will be examining the junction and making suggestions regarding road safety to the local authority.

  14. Alex

    I rode up and down that stretch of road twice a day for four years, and had so many near-misses that I lost count. Traffic coming down from Clapham South too fast, cyclists being forced to cross two lanes of traffic them wait in the middle of a narrow stretch of road on a corner to turn right and, heading south, a constant stream of drivers jumping the lights as they come up from Streatham and Dulwich.

    If any good is going to come of this, at least TfL might finally get around to improving things.

  15. LindaH

    Help please!! Following the death of cyclist Johannah Bailey on 31 July, a meeting with TfL officials has been arranged to press for improved safety measures for cyclists in the area of Cycle Route 5 where she died. The meeting is scheduled for 12 September.

    TfL officials say their work is “data led” — essentially, not enough people have died or had life-changing injuries for them to take action. Having secured a meeting with them nonetheless, it is crucial that we present as much evidence as possible to show why changes here are essential. The police also have asked for copies of correspondence into safety issues here, which they will include in their collision investigation report. Police reports can mandate changes to areas deemed unsafe.

    We need to collect as much evidence as possible to strengthen our case. Have you – whether as a cyclist, driver or pedestrian — seen or experienced near misses in this area? Have you had or witnessed an accident which went unreported?

    The area under discussion is the South Circular from the junction of Rudloe and Poynders Road SW4 through to the turnoff from Cavendish Road into Klea Avenue. It includes all the entry and exit points to the area: Cavendish, Hazelbourne, Englewood and Abbeville Roads, and Klea Ave as well as the housing estate entrance.

    If you have information on road and cyclist safety issues in this area, please email it to TootingCyclist@gmail.com. Be sure to include your full name, postal address and email address or contact phone number in the body of the message both for verification and so that you can be contacted if further details are required. Your contact details will be used only for the purposes of this campaign. You will not hear from us again unless you request follow up information.

    If you have information to contribute, we hope to hear from you by 10 September. Those meeting with TFL officials on 12 September include Lambeth Councillor Christine Barratt, who has been instrumental in arranging the meeting, another local cyclist and myself and a formal representative from the London Cycling Campaign.

  16. Pingback: Death trap in Lambeth – TfL in full denial – help needed « Cycling Intelligence

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  18. Murray Abisch

    “Please please be careful cycling,” says Sara, above. Sigh… Yet another case of the motorist refusing to take the blame!

  19. Pingback: Corporate Manslaughter – is TfL a serial offender? « Cycling Intelligence

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