Tuesday, 5 April 2011

a field student of highway contraventions


Kingsland Rd. 5/4/11

Presumably the poppy on the front of this truck is not intended to commemorate the many innocent cyclists and pedestrians who have been crushed to death beneath such vehicles. By the looks of it, this driver would never show any such solidarity, sympathy or empathy - let alone straightforward respect for the law and other road users. This was not the first ASL on Kingsland Rd, that truck had intruded on prior to arriving at this particular junction.

I was on my bicycle in the ASL area. I took the top photograph while standing there. I had enough time to walk forwards and photograph the stationary vehicle from the front, to include the registration number. The driver caught sight of this and lowered a window and started shouting abuse. I made an equally rude gesture and, as the lights had changed, headed off, north up Kingsland Road, keeping in the bus and cycle lane. The same lorry drove slowly alongside me and the driver persisted in his intimidating abuse. This abuse included, at one point, veering towards me as I avoided some potholes in the bus lane.

I made some more gestures and then broke away as the lorry arrived at the back of a queue of traffic.

About 15 minutes later I passed some police community support officers cycling up the road. I asked one of the 'cycle mounties' to stop as I had something to ask. I gave an account of the encounter with the truck and showed the officer the photographs. I was told the lorry driver would easily 'get off' this one as he could claim the photographs were taken while on the move. I pointed out a closer inspection would reveal the vehicle has not moved in the time taken to take both photographs and I am on the inside lane - where I would not stand if the lights were on green. I didn't completely reject her point. Then I was told I would need a witness and, with their details, to go to a local police station and fill in the appropriate forms. She added a witness is more valid than photographs as there are all sorts of 'loopholes' regarding photos.

I have tried going to a police station once before. The task took an excessively long time and my complaint (being bumped by a black cab which did not stop) was met with such indifference I decided not to bother with the formal process; which, I believe, is precisely what the station officer wanted.

In recent weeks there has been a spate of fatal collisions involving cyclists and lorries - as the inexhaustible Freewheeler's, Crap Cycling and Walking blog, reports - a depressing litany of death notices it seems sometimes.

To return to the photographs, something in the blatancy of the contravention and the proximity of the cycle symbol with those massive wheels brought home the violence of the situation on London roads.

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