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Coroner’s report criticises east London’s ‘confusing’ blue cycle lanes

PUBLISHED: 17:03 22 October 2013 | UPDATED: 18:35 22 October 2013

Cycle Superhighway

Cycle Superhighway

2010 Getty Images

Boris Johnson’s ‘cycle superhighways’ have been branded “confusing” by a coroner who investigated two cyclists’ deaths in east London.

In a Prevention of Future Deaths report, Mary Hassell criticised the blue lanes and called on the London mayor and Transport for London (TfL) to take action to address safety on the routes.

The report was published following inquests at Poplar Coroner’s Court into the deaths of Brian Dorling, 58, at Bow roundabout, and French student Philippine de Gerin-Ricard, 20, in Whitechapel High Street.

Mr Dorling died in October 2011 when he was struck by a left-turning tipper truck when crossing the roundabout. Ms de Gerin-Ricard was fatally injured when the Boris bike she was riding was involved in a collision with a lorry in July.

Ms Hassell warned cyclists were lulled into a “false sense of security” by the blue routes, which expert witnesses dismissed as having “no legal meaning at all” during Mr Dorling’s inquest.

“In my opinion, there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken,” Ms Hassell’s report said.

“The unbordered blue strips that have been painted on some roads are confusing. Cyclists wrongly assume (as Mr Dorling may have done) that they have priority, and are lulled into a false sense of security.”

She also called for better education of both motorists and cyclists on safer riding techniques and said better availability of information could assist in “changing the culture” on our roads.

The junction between Whitechapel High Street and Commercial Street at which Ms de Gerin-Ricard died was highlighted as “difficult to negotiate” in Ms Hassell’s report.

Leon Daniels, who is TfL’s surface manager, said the report was being “carefully considered”.

But speaking to ITV news, Mr Johnson denied the routes were inherently unsafe.

“We will of course take very seriously everything the coroner has had to say about the incidents and what we can do to improve the cycle superhighways,” he added.

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