Yesterday the inquest took place into the death of Daniel Cox, the promising young artist killed as a consequence of being run down on his bicycle by a left turning lorry at Dalston Junction on 02.02.11. Ross Lydall of the Evening Standard was there and reports the verdict of 'accidental death'. Apparently the concern of the Coroner was directed not so much at lorries with avoidable blind spots running down cyclists, or the totally unenforced contravention of red traffic lights when motorised vehicles cross the line into space before the Advanced Stop Line reserved for cycles, but instead on the paradoxical situation that ASLs might be placing cyclists in danger.
So, there we have it, the inquest into the 'accidental' death of Daniel Cox reveals as the most disturbing feature of his death that the ASL might have placed him in danger. Since it was the ASL apparently that killed Daniel, we can now see why the CPS dropped all charges against the driver.
I very much hope that the Coroner appropriately grilled that driver over his decision to encroach into the advanced stop area in order (so he apparently claimed) to get a better view of the junction and over the fact that he did not apparently have the benefit of a legal nearside mirror.
I ought to stress that I was not there and do not have access to the evidence but what I have read suggests that the lorry driver goes through the first stop line (contravening the red light) indicating right and eventually stops at the Advance Stop Line. A cyclist coming from behind (in all probability knowing the lights had just turned to red), would not see either a left indication or that the lorry had blocked the ASL. Cyclist perfectly sensibly moves ahead to the second line where he ought to be well ahead of the lorry but, as he finds when he gets there, is alongside (or maybe only slightly ahead of the lorry - I cannot know) because the lorry is further ahead than it should be. Lorry driver sees nothing of the cyclist either because of the inadequacy of his observation or the inadequacy of his mirrors (or both). Cyclist cannot go further forward without jumping a red light. Lorry driver indicates left and runs down cyclist.
So how is it that it is ASLs, rather than (say) defective lorries or bad driving that is putting us in danger? I can only imagine it is that the very existence of ASLs lulls us into a false sense of security that there will be a space for us ahead of the traffic that we should use. Whereas in reality of course there is no such space because so many motorists, and all those paid to enforce the law, do not give the slightest attention to an ASL, to the extent that it is quite unremarkable for a lorry driver to say that he encroached onto a space reserved for cyclists to get a better view.
To that extent perhaps the Coroner has some sort of perverse point: either enforce ASLs or do away with them. However the blind eye being turned to planks whilst identifying this mote is astounding.
Subsequent thought: the CPS do seem to be a lot more willing to prosecute in cases involving the death of a pedestrian than cases involving the death of a cyclist.