French cyclist death at Whitechapel was ‘tragic accident’ when she put herself in danger—coroner

Philippine Degerin-Ricard

Philippine Degerin-Ricard - Credit: Archant

The death of a French student cyclist after riding a ‘Boris Bike’ hit by a trailer lorry at a busy junction at Whitechapel in east London was a “tragic accident” when she put herself in danger, a coroner ruled today.

Philippine Degerin-Ricard cycled on the inside from the pavement to reach the front of the traffic queue at the crossroads of Whitechapel High Street and Commercial Street.

She was struck from behind by a lorry when the lights went green because she was too low for the driver to see her, the inquest at Poplar was told.

Members of Philippine’s family wept as they watched CCTV footage showing her losing control and falling off the bike onto hoardings at the side of the road.

“She wasn’t reckless—but what she did was dangerous,” said Coroner Mary Hassell.

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“There wasn’t enough gap. Cyclists should come out and ‘take’ the lane so they’re visible and with no danger of traffic passing too close.

“But from Philippine’s point-of-view, it was safer cycling on the left and when it got bad she went on the pavement.

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“That was a major contributory factor to why the driver didn’t see her. He had no opportunity when she returned to the road—she was only visible for a few seconds.”

The 20-year-old who was cycling along TfL’s new ‘Super Highway 2’ through the A11 Gardner’s Corner junction on her way to the flat she had just moved into at Bromley-by-Bow.

Philippine’s mother Anne Boudet du Mochet called for the “dangerous situation” to be resolved.

She told the hearing: “It should not happen. What needs to be tackled are proper lanes for cyclists so they can be protected.

“Significant action must be taken now and quickly.”

An ambulance was on the scene within minutes of the accident at 7pm on July 6, but Philippine never regained consciousness. She died at 8.03pm that night at the Royal London Hospital.

The coroner is now to issue a report on improving cycling safety on the A11, after evidence from police witnesses that traffic lanes were too narrow for vehicles to overtake slower bicycles. There has been 22 injury accidents at the junction in the past three years, including five involving cyclists.

Philippine’s death was caused by multiple injuries. The coroner recorded death by accident.

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