Around 75% of fatal or serious cyclist accidents occur in urban areas, primarily at road junctions or roundabouts. Furthermore, Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs) present a particular danger for cyclists, especially in London where around 20% of cyclist fatalities involve a lorry.
Nature of the Incident
The defendant was driving an LGV over Lambeth Bridge in London when it was involved in a collision with a cyclist approaching the roundabout. As this resulted in fatal injuries to the cyclist, the driver was charged with death by careless driving.
TRL reviewed the following data to determine the cause of the collision:
- Analysis of CCTV footage located in nearby vehicles and on surrounding buildings, which showed the movements of the LGV and the cyclist, prior to and at the point of collision.
- A locus visit to consider the road layout.
- A drive-through of the locus in the same LGV that was used by the driver, enabling a driver visibility assessment to be undertaken.
TRL Expert Witness View
As the carriageway crosses the bridge it comprises one lane in either direction, with a demarcated cycle route adjacent to the westbound lane. The cycle route tapers into the westbound lane as that lane approaches a roundabout. The cyclist was crossing the bridge within the cycle lane. Due to heavy traffic at that time, cyclists within the cycle lane were travelling at a faster speed than the live traffic and were consequently passing legitimately to the nearside of the vehicles.
The LGV started passing to the right of the cyclist as it reached the end of the cycle lane and moved to the right to re-join the traffic lane immediately prior to the roundabout. It made contact with the rear of the bicycle as it passed, which resulted in the cyclist falling into the path of the rear nearside of the LGV, sustaining fatal injuries.
Material to this event was the geometry of the road as it presents westbound vehicles and bicycle traffic up to the roundabout. The cycle lane ends 19 metres prior to a zebra crossing and at the commencement of a left curve in the westbound lane.
Prior to the collision, CCTV analysis showed how the cyclist had legitimately gained on and commenced to pass the nearside of the LGV whilst within the dedicated cycle lane. Continuing its course, the cyclist arrived at the end of the cycle lane, whilst still passing the nearside of the truck. At that moment the LGV was still increasing its speed and the cyclist was seen reaching a point beyond the field of view of the mirrors. However, the drivers’ visibility assessment indicated that this was to a point not within direct line of sight via the windscreen, at the front nearside apex of the vehicle.
The continued curved course of the LGV, in preparing to present effectively onto the roundabout within the nearside lane brought the front of the LGV into contact with the rear of the bicycle.
Although both road users contributed to the collision by their course selection, their combined and simultaneous choice of actions unfortunately led to the consequence of the cyclist falling from the bicycle, at a point at which the road geometry directed vehicular and cycle traffic into potential conflict.
Whilst the LGV driver could have held a course to the offside of the approach to the crossing and the roundabout, in the event that the view to the nearside was such that it was not possible to be sure there were no cyclists adjacent, the cyclist had the option to concede to the LGV on leaving the cycle lane still alongside the truck, erring on the side of safety and, thus, avoiding conflict.
The defendant was acquitted of causing death by dangerous driving.