But why does anyone think that just because a luckier or more paranoid cyclist might have survived, it actually excuses drivers from making sure their path is clear?
had an eye-opening experience earlier in the year when I attended a safety demo in central Edinburgh. The Council loaned out one of their rigid trucks for the general public to play in, ostensibly to highlight the dangers presented to the general public by the drivers of large vehicles.
As I wrote at the time, I didn’t get the desired message at all. From the driver’s seat I could clearly see people standing against the side of the truck all the way from the tailboard to the front bumper, and even people standing against the front nearside wheel were glaringly obvious in one of the several mirrors provided. A mirror to the windscreen’s nearside revealed people lying on the ground immediately in front of the bumper from one side of the road to the other.
I was gobsmacked. This vehicle *had no blind spot*. The best that a killer driver could offer in their defence would be that, while the victim was clearly visible in at least one mirror, they unaccountably forgot to check those life-saving mirrors before manoeuvring.
At this point you might be thinking that it’s all very well talking about a modern, well-equipped truck – what about all the ones which don’t have mirrors covering the nearside? Again I must ask – who in their right mind thinks that not fitting something as basic as a set of safety mirrors to a type of vehicle involved in 2/3rds of fatal cycling collisions somehow *excuses* the driver who crushes someone?
Yes, in an ideal world every member of the general public would constantly evaluate the nearside mirrors of vehicles of all sizes as part of a continuous risk assessment, keeping up to date with different models of mirror so they could tell at a glance the capabilities of the drivers around them. Neither would they ever be caught out by an unfamiliar road layout, thinking they were in the clear on a cherry-red (or blue!) cycle lane or an ill-thought-out set of roadworks cones and winding up alongside a turning truck regardless.
But should a lack of this superhuman ability in the deceased somehow absolve drivers and their employers from taking responsibility for not crushing people in broad daylight?
Before you think this is too much of a straw man, I’d like to draw your attention to the tragic killing of Daniel Cox in February 2011. Daniel, an experienced cyclist, was waiting at a set of traffic lights alongside a truck driven by one Simon Weatherley, who had pulled up to the junction intending to turn right. Notably, Mr Weatherley admitted illegally entering the cycle safety box which, as a professional driver, it’s reasonable to suppose he knew had been set aside partly to guard against exactly the type of tragedy that was about to occur.
Mr Weatherley was also, it seems even by his own admission, driving a truck that didn’t have even the minimum complement of legally required nearside mirrors. At some point he realised that the junction was signed no-right-turn, changed his mind, and turned left instead, crushing Daniel to death.