Let’s never forget her – the ghost bike for Deep Lee

The ghost bike for Deep Lee

Tonight at 6.30pm, about 60 people gathered on a narrow pedestrian island at King’s Cross, central London. Surrounded by horrific traffic – I was really afraid that somebody might get hit by a car – we all commemorated Deep Lee (Min Joo Lee), the 24 year old cyclist who died at this spot three weeks ago after she was hit by a lorry.

James Thomas, who build the bike (left) , and a good friend of Deep Lee (right)

Deep Lee’s best friend gave a very moving speech. It was a poignant and sad ceremony that gave me the shivers.  I hope that the bike will work as a reminder for all road users to respect each other and take care. It might also wake up Transport for London that a human-friendly redesign of the roads in the area is urgently needed.

Many thanks again to James Thomas, a cyclist working a few hundered yards away and to Beth (I don’t know her last name) James organised the bike and painted it. Beth, a designer, worked on the sign.

James explained his motivation in an interview with Will Perrin that is available here. I was happy that I could help with spreading the word. The whole initiative was organised informally by people over the internet who did not know each other. (Big society, here we come!) I’m really impressed by this amazing civic spirit.

On 3 November, there will be a memorial service at On 3 November, there will also memorial ceremony for her at the university. It starts at 6pm at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design ( Granary Building, 1 Granary Square London N1C 4AA)

Here’s a blog post by Mark on “I bike London” on the installation of the bikeMore of my photos from tonight are available here.

The “Camden New Journal” and the “Evening Standard” reported about the event. James produced this brief video about the work on the bike:

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:

Continue reading “Cyclists’ death trap on cycle lane in Lambeth?”

The troubling death of Dorothy Elder -Comment

Freewheeler, who runs the blog “Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest”has written a very good post on the death of Dorothy Elder, a cyclist who got killed by a TfL Bus in London in 2009. Last week, the bus driver was cleared in court. Freewheler rightly points to some oddities of the crash and the verdict.

Unfortunately, I’m unable to add a comment to Freewheeler’s blog. Hence I do it here.

The crash happened on 11/11/2009 at 11pm.  According to the Evening Standard, the bus was waiting in front of red lights in Theobald’s Road in the middle lane and was bout to turn right into Southampton Row.  Dorothy passed the (standing?) bus on the vehicles nearside. When she was in front of the bus, she changed landes, apparently without looking or putting her arm out to indicate.

In court, a road crash expert named Barry Wheeler cleared the driver Leola Burte. He said

  1. there may have been a three-second window for Leola Burte to spot Ms Elder become a hazard
  2. however, the driver  would have been focusing on the more immediate traffic dangers to her right
  3. the view of the cyclist may have been obscured by a combination of the cab fittings and windscreen wipers
  4. The prosecution  suggested that Miss Elder should have worn more visible clothing and should not have ridden in front of the bus  in the first place

There are a number of things that deeply irritate me.

Three seconds is quite a long time.  Dorothy was either in front or to the right of the bus. Even according to Mr. Wheeler the driver would have been focusing on the things which were happening to her right. I don’t understand how this can be used an an argument in favour of the driver.

How can windscreen wipers obscure the view of a bus driver? If this is really a valid point, busses should urgently be re-designed. If the view was really obscured, why does Mr. Wheeler stress that Dorothy did not indicate? If the  driver really was unable to see the cyclist, this would not have helped anyway.

The verdict really is surprising given the fact that – according to an interview the bus driver gave to the Evening Standard after the verdict, even the bus company was convinced that the accident was the drivers fault.  According to the Standard,  Leola Burte said:

“I went into the office and they [the bus company Metroline] told me they had seen the CCTV and that I was at fault. I was treated like a murderer. They told me I was sacked and to give back my uniform.”

This is really peculiar. Either Metroline really is an utterly awful employer which does not protect its employees at all or the CCTV recording was very straightforward. Freewheeler makes another good point:

If the collision was captured on CCTV (…)  it is far from clear to me why there should be any room for doubt as to how long the cyclist was visible in front of the bus. This would be a matter of record, not speculation.

Freewheeler rightly points to the fact that at the same junction another cyclist was killed one year earlier.

All this is really unsettling. Has the jury really done a proper job? I do have some  doubts.