Just making a note of “Mayor Culpa”, p38 of Private Eye 1300 (28 October 2011), for future reference. Thank Free OCR for the typos.
BORIS JOHNSON ls forever on his bike posing as a modern environmentally conscious man. But when it comes to stopping heavy goods vehicles mowing down London cyclists and pedestrians, he and his administration don’t seem to want to know.
The case that is likely to expose the gulf between what the London mayor says and what his administration does is the death of Eilidh Caims (pictured) in February 2009, and the extraordinary response of the Met police.
The 30-year-old was an experienced cyclist, who had just got her “dream job” as a TV producer. She was riding through Notting Hill Gate when she was crushed under the wheels of Joao Lopes’ tipper truck.
Like many HGVs in Britain, Lopes’ truck had a large blind spot on the front offside. Eilidh’s sister, Kate Caims, had hoped the authorities would allow her to use the investigation into the death as part of a wider campaign to ???t sensors to HGVs, which cause 50 percent of cyclist deaths even though they make up only 5 percent of road traf???c. She was sorely disappointed.
Lopes pleaded guilty at Kingston magistrates’ court to driving with defective vision. He was given three points on his licence and a £200 ???ne. The court allowed him to carry on driving HGVs.
Met sources have con???rmed to the Eye that police questioned Lopes in connection with the death of Nora Guttmann, a 97-year-old former refugee who died a???er a collision with a lorry, in Marylebone, central London, in June.
A???er the slap on the wrist the magistrates gave Lopes in the Caims’ case, the Caims family found witnesses to the death, and highlighted their concem that the police had used an officer who was 6t tall to check whether the l0rry’s mirrors were correctly positioned. The driver was 5ft 2in.
They also wanted to cross-question DCI David Rathie, who wrote the original collision report. But the deputy coroner of West London, Dr Shirley Radcliffe, told them: “Because of reasons outside of my control I am unable to have Mr Rathie in court, and it may be that we’ll never be able to have Mr Rathie in court.” Rathie was indisposed because h_e had been charged him with an offence for which he was subsequently acquitted.
The Met looked into its handling of the death of Eilidh Caims, but refused to give the family its ???ndings. Last week the family sought a judicial review of the coroner’s verdict of accidental death and of her failure to consider “the huge problem facing cyclists in London”. The high court will rule on whether the case can be reopened shortly.
With bicycles equalling the number of cars on the road in rush hour in major cities and outnumbering cars in parts of the City of London, there are plenty of other reasons for cyclists to worry about the attitude of Johnson and his of???cials.
In the summer, cyclists blocked Blackfriars Bridge to protest against the plans of Johnson’s Transport for London (TtL)’ to turn it into a *dangerous route that will allow cars to speed through the capital.
And after a lorry driver killed 24-year-old cyclist and fashion student Min Joo Lee on 3 October at King’s Cross, local environmentalists are threatening to bring corporate manslaughter charges against TfL. They used a freedom of information request to uncover a TfL report that said the junction where she died had “inadequate” protection for cyclistsand walkers and “casualties were inevitab1e”.
Johnson does not appear to care. Kate Cairns said that when she tried to raise road safety with the mayor at a public meeting, “he just made silly jokes. I think he’s a bit of a buffoon.”