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Campaigners criticise TfL and Southwark Council over lack of action at junction where cyclist was killed

Proposals mean motorists will continue to cut across cyclists from Lane 2 when turning left

Transport for London (TfL) and Southwark Council have been accused of ignoring a coroner’s call for safety improvements at the junction where cyclist Esther Hartsilver was killed in May 2015.

Hartsilver was in a bus lane when truck driver Philip Beadle turned left off Denmark Hill into Orpheus Street and suffered multiple injuries when she went under the wheels of his lorry.

Beadle was found not guilty of causing her death by careless driving and told an inquest that the junction was “an accident waiting to happen.”

Reporting on the design of the junction of Denmark Hill with Orpheus Street in February of this year, Sarah Ormond-Walshe, the assistant coroner for the coroner area of Inner South London, wrote: “Traffic wishing to turn left may, at the moment, turn left from Lane 2. This means that they cross a lane of traffic that may well be travelling straight ahead. Miss Hartsilver was an experienced London cyclist and the HGV driver an experienced driver also. It is the junction that is unusual.”

Southwark is the highway authority for both Denmark Hill and Orpheus Street with TfL working in support. “They both have different functions and duties but it would take both working together to agree a change to the design,” wrote Ormond-Walshe.

She finished by asking Southwark and TfL to consider interim modifications to the junction and to make the safety of cyclists a major consideration when final decisions are made as part of larger planned improvement of Camberwell.

The London Evening Standard has now reported that TfL’s plans for nearby Camberwell Green do not include “protected space” for cyclists – only bike logos painted on the road, not segregated lanes.

A TfL consultation on these plans runs until September 3.

Just to the south of the Camberwell Green improvements, traffic will continue to make left turns across cyclists' path at the junction where Hartsilver was killed. 

Recent changes to the junction include; shortening the bus lane, installing arrow markings to encourage people to get into the correct lane and placing symbols on the road to raise awareness of cyclists.

Leon Daniels, MD of Surface Transport at TfL, said: “We have listened to everything the coroner said following the sad death of Esther Hartsilver and have worked closely with the council to make a number of changes to the Denmark Hill/Orpheus Street junction layout, with further improvements planned.

“This includes installing temporary safety improvements to the Camberwell Green junction, allowing cyclists to move off before cars, as well as providing more space for pedestrians. We are continuing to work with Southwark Council on a more transformative scheme to reduce the traffic dominance in the area.”

Southwark said it was making the entrance to Orpheus Street narrower, with a raised platform, to slow traffic, while new signs will remind drivers to look out for cyclists.

Ian Wingfield, cabinet member for environment, said: “We took on board everything the coroner said following the death of Esther Hartsilver and, working with TfL, the council has looked at numerous scenarios for changing the layout around the Orpheus Street junction. Every change we looked at created a potentially even more dangerous situation further down the road at the busier junction with Coldharbour Lane.”

Nicola Branch, co-organiser of Stop Killing Cyclists, said: “There are no measures for safer cycling there in any shape or form. It’s really awful. You could have safe lanes. You could protect cyclists from left turns. But there is absolutely nothing whatsoever.”

The group is to meet walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman next week to express its concerns.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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trevorparsons | 6 years ago
1 like

There is a key point which seems to have been missed here so far, except for a hint in Councillor Wingfield's quote.

Orpheus Street isn't just an ordinary side turning off Denmark Hill. It is part of a gyratory system via which vehicle drivers travelling southbound on Denmark Hill can set themselves up to enter Coldharbour Lane. This gyratory exists in order to permit the banning of the direct right turn from Denmark Hill into Coldharbour Lane.

See map:

That is why the lorry which fatally injured Esther Hartsilver was turning left into Orpheus Street.

If the gyratory were removed and the direct right turn from Denmark Hill into Coldharbour Lane were reinstated, the risk of such collisions at the Orpheus Street junction would be practically eliminated.

Of course, the turn reinstatement and gyratory removal would significantly reduce the capacity of the signalised junction of Denmark Hill and Coldharbour Lane.

Councillor Wingfield speaks of alternative scenarios only in terms of safety. I suggest that this obscures the underlying trade-off of the current arrangements: a risk to pedestrians and cyclists has been created at Denmark Hill / Orpheus Street in order to increase motor-traffic capacity at Denmark Hill / Coldharbour Lane. Narrowing and raising the entrance to Orpheus Street does not fundamentally change this fact.

By the by, since "safe lanes" and suchlike were mentioned in the article, it should be noted that cycle tracks would actually increase the left hook risk to cyclists at the Denmark Hill / Orpheus Street junction, unless you were to signalise that junction in order to hold southbound cycle traffic while vehicles turned into Orpheus Street. Working out the various reasons why that won't happen is left as an exercise to the reader.

Mark_1973_ | 6 years ago

Unfortunately, I've found the same problem throughout London on the cycle superhighways; you're at constant risk of vehicles turning left directly into your path, when you are in a legitimate, clearly demarcated lane.

emishi55 replied to Mark_1973_ | 6 years ago
1 like

Mark_1973_ wrote:

Unfortunately, I've found the same problem throughout London on the cycle superhighways; you're at constant risk of vehicles turning left directly into your path, when you are in a legitimate, clearly demarcated lane.


Motor vehicles in cities are vastly overprovided for.


The simple fact is we need to start eliminating traffic, congestion and the insane intermittent race tracks that authorities are so desperate to prop up.

Impose a loose grid system upon London - remove many of the parallel routes that permit and perpetuate the chronic over indulgence and inconvenience of motors.

Road pricing or toll gates - also essential to keep traffic volums to anything like a reasonable level.

Pedestrian/bike/bus only streets (withdrop of points for taxis and motors).How many more decades are going to pass before councils and London authorities finally get the message?


The TfL strategy for change by 2041 is hardly an action plan.  The mayor needs to get real or be shown the door. Lip service whilst ignoring the best available advice is just contemptuous.  

We are in 2017 not 2037. 




Morgoth985 | 6 years ago

Allowing left turning traffic to cut across anyone going straight on - cyclists, pedestrians, whatever - is madness.  This doesn't even need to be a cycling-specific matter, just (un?)common sense road design.

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