Cycling Fatality on Mitcham Road

Yesterday morning at around 5am. A cyclist was involved in a RTC with a car on the A236 Mitcham Road. The man was pronounced dead at the scene by the air ambulance doctor. Rest In Peace!

For those of you that don’t know Croydon and Mitcham Road, it has been the talking point of many cycling campaigners. Nearly a mile of cycle lane in the door zone in either direction. Parked cars on either side of this very busy arterial road and plenty of pinch points that do absolutely nothing!

I contacted Croydon Council about this road in January. I highlighted the issue with the door zone, the debris in the cycle lane and the pinch points that do not prevent people from speeding. The response regarding Mitcham road is as follows

Most of the cycle lanes in Mitcham Road meet the recommended minimum standard width of 1.5 metres, however there is insufficient carriageway space available to increase the clearance from parked vehicles. This is why the lanes have been made highly visible with green surfacing used for the majority of the length, which should help to remind motorists that they should take care of cyclists using the route.

Some physical changes can be made as the resources become available; changing awareness and habits in respect of cyclists and motorcyclists is a longer term issue.

I did push further and got this response

I visited again this road on Monday morning with my traffic engineer and we have established two courses of actions.

Firstly as these lanes were initially implemented as part of the London Cycle Network Budget and Project, about five years ago, it is long overdue for a review. On measuring the width of the cycle lanes we found that some of the lanes could be widened. We aim to implement a review with a view to extend the cycle lane widths to give greater space for cyclists.

Secondly there is a view to create a parallel route for the Mitcham road on quiet residential roads via  Ockley rd and Rochford way and Westcombe avenue, from just beyond the Lombard roundabout for cyclists who would feel less confident in using the Mitcham road.

The green paint mentioned in the first response has all but faded and is only the width of a car door! So this cycle lane is extremely dangerous to use, especially during the early hours of the morning when people are going to work and taking their kids to school.

Door Zone on Mitcham Road

The insufficient width they talk about is down to parking that is allowed on the road. The A236 is the only arterial road I can think of in Croydon that allows residential parking like this.

Parking on the A236

I was spurred on to contact the council about this stretch of road after my own RTC in which I broke my clavicle. At the same time I also queried what was being done with the £450,500 that was given to Croydon by the Mayor after being named a Cycling Borough. Unfortunately those funds where already being spent elsewhere (a cycling hub at East Croydon station) and could not be used to drastically improve one of the worst cycle lanes in Croydon.

The Broken Clavicle Part I

The broken clavicle is a common cycling injury. Cyclists often try to break their fall by out stretching their arm and unfortunately this leads to a break or fracture in the clavicle.

This happened to me 17 days ago, I won’t be going into detail about how it happened as the police are looking into it. But the resulting collision for me was the Tarmac at a high rate of speed. Before you ask, there is no video, my helmet camera was bashed, squashed and the memory card thrown from the camera when I hit the ground, I have looked for it but I can’t find it.

So I’m laying on the ground looking at the morning sky and I don’t even bother to try to get up, I know I’ve at least fractured my clavicle. Luckily there was a school nearby and a few shops on the other side of the road. Lots of people where there to help, be in calling emergency services, taking control of the situation, talking to me, contacting my parents and controlling traffic so it didn’t drive over me as I laid in the road.

Once the ambulance arrived they took a look and its pretty clear there is something wrong with my clavicle but we won’t know what until it gets x-rayed. At first I take gas and air to relieve the pain, I believe it’s a mixture of laughing gas and oxygen, it’s bloody awesome but you have to keep breathing it for pain relief.
They also gave me some oramorph which is morphine based but did little for me.

Before we could leave for A&E we had to wait for the police to arrive and they certainly took their time. We couldn’t leave incase the other person involved left. Eventually my mother arrived and said she would wait so I could go to A&E. So about 40 minutes after it had happened I’m finally in a moving ambulance.

So I’m finally at A&E, I’m given 10mg or morphine and I’m waiting for a porter to take me to x-ray. The police turn up and have a quick chap, they look over the bike and I tell them what happened, I found it strange that they didn’t appear to take notes of what I described in detail. But they where interested in the camera and what it would show, at that moment in time none of us knew the damage to the camera or that the memory card was missing.

The porter finally arrives and takes me down to x-ray. Unfortunately x-ray is a slow process and it would appear that morphine does nothing for me as I’m still in excruciating pain. Who knows how much time I was waiting for x-ray but it was too long for me!

Eventually I’m through x-ray and back in A&E, waiting for the results.

So the doctor comes to see me, she has looked at the x-ray and states it’s a basic fracture and the only thing they will do is put it in a sling and let it heal. It’s one they will definitely not operate on.
I had to be booked in at the fracture clinic where I will go for regular check ups to make sure it’s healing well. Unfortunately this is done a week after the break and I’m going on holiday in 2 days time. We ask for their advice and they say I should be fine to travel and the appointment is pushed back till after I’m back.

I’m discharged from hospital and I’m on my way home with some pain killers and my arm in a sling. I’m happy with the way everything has turned out and looking forward to the road to recovery but how simple is this road going to be?

RTC 16.12.10

It’s snowing, the ground is wet and traffic is backed up. I’m cycling in the bus lane and traffic up ahead starts moving but I miss a set of cars not moving at the start of a side road. The result is a car driving through a gap and into the side road, going straight across the bus lane without checking. It ended with me landing on the bonnet of the car with my arm taking my full weight which flexed the bonnet so much that my arm hit the engine block.

The police attended the scene and the driver spoke very little english. At the time the driver claimed that he didn’t see any lights on my bicycle, despite my bicycle laying in the street with the 900 lumen magicshine light and 240 lumen hope vision 1 light blaring on to the ground, lets not also forget the helmet mounted torch that I have which was shining in his eyes. The obvious problem is the driver didn’t look, so of course he couldn’t see.

An independent witness came forward (the driver of a vehicle that was waiting to leave the side road) and his statement matched my side of the story, which was also backed up by the video footage I had.

You would think that having video footage of the event would make everything plain sailing. Oh how wrong could you be. First I was told by the case manager that video evidence could not be used.

it is not something we would be able to use in court. This is due to the fact
it would not be seen as independent evidence and an argument could be
made to the effect that the footage could have been tampered with.

My response to that..

In at least 2 cases in 2010 video evidence was used in court to secure
convictions against vehicle drivers, they where recorded using similar
video equipment by cyclists.

My video evidence matches the statements that me, the vehicle driver and
a witness gave to the Police that attended the scene. I had not seen the
video before giving my statement and neither of the witness had viewed
or know about it.
This video evidence should not be dismissed due to the fact that an
argument could be made to the effect that it could have been tampered
with. As it clearly shows that the driver crossed across a bus lane
without checking to see if anything was in it. I have been advised that
if this is to be dismissed, it should be done so by a magistrate or
jury.

That was not the end of my issues. The MET’s video evidence/surveillance rooms are not capable of playing digital videos in modern h.264 formats. So they where not able to play the video that I had sent them. That in its self is quite frustrating. It ended up with one of them playing it on a personal laptop. How they then got it into a playable format to be used in court I do not know.

The case went to court nearly 7 months after the incident and I heard about the results yesterday, the driver was charged with Careless or Inconsiderate driving, got a £350 fine, 6 points on their license and ordered to pay £100 court fees. That is certainly a good result.

All that is left now is for me to claim back the cost of the damages from his insurance company.