A Croydon cyclist sustained a broken wrist after crashing into the base of a cycle lane wand that had been removed by the council, apparently on the orders of the London borough’s mayor – and has warned that the hazard is a potential “death trap.”
Inside Croydon reports that Richard Lander needed to have a steel plate inserted in his wrist and take more than a month off work to recover following his crash, in which he also suffered severe bruising and his bike was damaged.
Mr Lander, a member of the London Cycling Campaign, is reportedly now considering taking legal action against the local authority.
The wands, which had been installed in March on a cycle lane on the busy Brighton Road and were paid for by money secured from the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund, were subsequently removed at the behest of Conservative Mayor Jason Perry, who is said to be opposed to cycle lanes.
The removal of wands elsewhere has also seen the “defender bases” affixed to the road surface also removed, as happened in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea when it controversially scrapped wand-protected cycle lanes on Kensington High Street a matter of weeks after they had been installed in late 2020.
There, the only sign that the cycle lanes had been in place were drill holes showing where the plates supporting the wands had been, and which were flush with the road surface, thus presenting no hazard to those cyclists who continued to use the route once the infrastructure had been removed.
That does not appear to be the case in Croydon, however, and as the website points out, while the defender bases would be clearly visible during the daytime, on a dark, wet evening such as that in which Mr Lander crashed, that is far from the case.
The IT project manager says that he was cycling into the centre of Croydon when he had to pull out to pass a vehicle that had been parked on the no-longer-wand-protected cycle lane – and hit one of the defender bases, causing him to come off his bike.
Mr Lander, who was featured on our sister website eBikeTips recently when he was told to remove his converted e-bike from a train, told us that he was “riding on the cycle lane, approaching a stopped bus at the bus stop,” and “pulled out into the main carriageway to overtake,” when he “collided with a cycle lane ;marker’ brick.
He said he was “thrown off the bike,” and “tumbled down the road” as a result of the crash on the evening of Friday 3 November.
He told road.cc that the black cycle lane divider had “no markings, no reflectors, no cats’ eyes” and that it was “totally invisible in the dark.”
Mr Lander continued: “The invisible brick is a really serious hazard. It’s ironic that it is intended for cycle safety, but it has resulted in a nasty accident.
“It seems that they start off with reflectors, that get knocked off by traffic until only the black brick remains. Surely there is some responsibility for road furniture markings ?
“The injuries could have been much worse,” he went on. “Thankfully no serious head injury, the worst avoided by wearing a cycle helmet. Thankfully no ricochet, no knock on injuries from other vehicles or street furniture. Off work for a month or more.”
He was treated for his injuries at Croydon Hospital A&E, and said that “despite the busy queues, I received very professional attention - examination, x-ray, consultation, plaster cast, more x-ray, cleared to leave by midnight.
“Croydon Hospital continued to provide excellent services, with an operation on Tuesday 7th November, repairing the broken bones with a surgical plate,” he added.
According to Inside Croydon, there is a CCTV camera at the exact spot close to South Croydon bus garage where Mr Lander – who said that he was lucky not to have fallen into the path of any vehicle that may have been passing at the time – had his fall.
However, his efforts to obtain relevant footage were rebuffed, with the local authority replying that after having “checked the date and time of this incident, unfortunately the incident was not captured on CCTV. Sorry That we are unable to assisted [sic] you further,” despite the council’s own website stating that CCTV operates on a 24/7 basis with footage retained for 31 days.
The Metropolitan Police Service is also said to have declined to investigate the crash, leaving Mr Lander with civil action as his only remedy – as Inside Croydon points out, as an LCC member, he is entitled to free legal advice from its solicitors, with the campaign group stating on its website that “depending on the facts of your case, if the accident was caused by another party (such as a local authority) not properly discharging their duty of care and causing a highway defect or hazard, it is possible to seek damages from them for injury”.
In the meantime, the cyclist has contacted the council official who was responsible for the design of the wand-protected cycle lane, who has referred the matter to the local authority’s highways team.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.