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Islington Tribune - by SARA NEWMAN
Published: 4 April 2008

Madeleine Rosie Wright, known to friends as Roh
Cyclist’s death highlights need for safety measures

Inquest hears that driver blindspots pose danger to road users

ROAD safety campaigners expressed their alarm this week following the inquest into the death of another young cyclist killed in an accident at a notorious junction in King’s Cross.
Madeleine Rosie Wright, 26, known as “Roh” to her friends, died on March 9 last year at the Royal London Hospital after turning left from Pentonville Road into Penton Rise.
There have been several accidents at the junction, including a fatality two years ago.
The researcher, who was travelling between her home in Mildmay Road in Newington Green to the School of Oriental and African Studies in Russell Square, attempted to continue straight on across the junction.
As she did so another cyclist darted out in front of her and Ms Wright was caught under the wheels of a lorry, St Pancras Coroner’s court heard on Monday.
Dr Andrew Reid told the court that in the light of the number of fatalities involving pedal cyclists and heavy goods vehicles in the boroughs of Hackney, Islington, Camden and Haringey, the scope of the inquest had been extended.
An internal Transport For London (TfL) report found that in the 36 months prior to Ms Wright’s death, there were 22 other “slight” accidents at the same junction. Nine of the victims were cyclists.
Head of road safety at TfL, Chris Lines, told the inquest that despite the number of collisions at the junction, improvements were not considered high priority and changes were not immediately made owing to budget constraints.
A speed camera will be installed by May 2 on the road leading to the junction and the bus lane will be extended to allow cyclists more time to move into the right hand lane, said Mr Lines.
No date has been set for proposals to install a toucan pedestrian crossing.
Lorry driver John Humphrey told the court that he had positioned his lorry in the right hand lane to allow for a “long sweeping bend” rather than turning from the inside lane and cutting the corner.
He said: “As soon as the lights changed I checked my mirrors. When I saw the cyclist dart in front of me I dabbed on the brakes. It was literally a split second.”
Collisions investigator PC David Wilson said: “Because Ms Wright was on the far side, closer to the kerb, there was a great opportunity for her to be in the blind-spot.”
Dr Reid said he would write privately to Mr Lines, “so that information can be shared”.
Outside the court Miss Wright’s father said: “They [TFL] have accepted that people are going to get killed and that’s old fashioned.”
Cycling campaigners are pushing for a European directive, requiring lorry drivers to fit their vehicles with proximity mirrors, to come into force earlier than March 31, 2009, as planned.
London Cycling Campaign representative, Tom Bogdanowicz, who lives in Holloway, said: “There are now mirrors that can significantly improve a driver’s field of vision so there’s less of a reason for drivers to say they didn’t see [cyclists or pedestrians].”
Emily Thornberry, who cycles past the junction regularly, said cyclist safety is an issue close to her heart.
She said: “ All lorries have blind-spots. What’s so worrying is that if you look at the number of deaths of cyclists you’ll see that a completely disproportionate number of these are from cyclists going under the wheels of lorries.”
She added: “On the whole, traffic in London goes so slowly that the main danger is car doors opening. But a lorry is so heavy that if it hits you you go under.”
Mayoral candidate, Boris Johnson, said: “It’s very dangerous. I will make it a priority if I’m lucky enough to be elected mayor to look into that particular junction and ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

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