Tuesday, 3 May 2011

"It's Ok to speculate if the helmet would have made a difference, but maybe on the driving ..."

I received a reply from the coroner. I still don't believe that it was at all appropriate for the coroner to comment on this, since he appears to have no actual knowledge of the basic data around cycle helmets ...

Dear Mr Lennon

I refer to your e mail of 27th April with regard to this Inquest that I concluded at Windsor Guildhall on Thursday, 14th April last.

I note the contents of your e mail and would respond as follows:

1. You do not identify your interest in this matter nor whether you are “a properly interested person” within the definition of the Coroners Act. I would be grateful for clarification.

2. It is apparent from your comments that you were not present at the Inquest but rather appear to be relying on the press report of the Inquest. As you will appreciate, this does not cover all the elements of the evidence that was heard in the course of the Inquest Hearing itself.

3. In my summing up at the conclusion of the evidence, I simply stated that Mr Honour may have had a greater chance of survival if he had been wearing a helmet rather than not wearing one at all. The principle injuries leading to his death arose from the blow to the head. I do not believe it unreasonable to comment that a helmet would have afforded more protection than nothing at all.

4. As regards the evidence about the actions of the drivers, this was investigated thoroughly, first by Thames Valley Police and secondly in the course of the evidence at the Inquest. The fact that the press chose not to report on this is a separate issue.

5. I would also advise that an Inquest is an inquiry to establish the facts as to “how” somebody met their death. It is an inquiry not a trial and I am specifically excluded from returning a conclusion that addresses issues of fault or liability.

I trust that the above clarifies the position.

Yours sincerely

Peter J. Bedford

H.M. Coroner for Berkshire

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Cycle helmets might save you from being mown down!

Today I wrote to the coroner who thought that being hit by three cars at 40mph+ would somehow have been less fatal if the cyclist involved had been wearing a helmet. It seems endemic of the general attitude to death on the roads, especially of cyclists. Essentially, the verdict says to me: "It was just another accident. What a shame."

Dear Sir,

I am writing to enquire on what basis you believe that WIlliam Honour may have survived impact by three separate vehicles by wearing a cycle helmet. (See story at http://www.getbracknell.co.uk/news/s/2091712_cyclist_died_after_being_struck_by_three_cars)

He was travelling on a road with a 70mph speed limit and was hit by one of the vehicles at around 40mph. Since cycle helmets are designed to protect those falling from bicycles at much lower speed, and there is no current scientific evidence to suggest any substantial benefit in impacts at such high speed, I would like to know how you surmised that Mr. Honour might have been protected?

Further, the news story doesn't seem to suggest much investigation was made, during the inquest, into how far, laterally, drivers were from Mr. Honour: that one driver appears to have struck the cyclist doesn't seem to have been the matter of any interest to the court at all.

Thus, I'd like to know why it seems that the coroner's court doesn't appear to have made any investigation into whether drivers were travelling at a suitable distance from non-vehicle road users (i.e. Mr. Honour), and whether their driving / road behaviour contributed to his death.


Tim Lennon.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

I wrote to my MP about helping corporations dodge tax ...

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Dear Zac Goldsmith,

I note with, frankly, horror, a story on the Guardian today about tax
breaks the Government is planning to issue to medium and large
businesses. (At

It seems to me that if, as the Prime Minister recently claimed, he
wants to rebuild Britain based on entrepreneur-ship, this isn't the way
to do it.

The nature of the measure will cleaRLY do nothing to support small
business, since they won't be able to access the benefits, and it
leaves us otherwise racing to the bottom of the corporate tax league
for no obvious reason.

Or perhaps everyone's misunderstanding the proposed measure. I'd
appreciate it if you would find out the details of the measure, its
intended consequences, and how it fits with broader Government policy.


Tim Lennon.

I wrote to my councillors ....

Dear Katharine Mary Harborne, Richard James Montague and Lisa Carole Blakemore,

Richmond Cycle Club drew my attention to this piece of work from the council, concerning cycling: http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/2011/02/04/lbrut-proposed-cycle-map/

It seems to me that this is not only a waste of money, but it demonstrates that the council is actually not really committed to encouraging more cycling in our borough.

Here's some brief notes I made about the map:
1. It doesn't show routes, it shows bits of road the borough think are appropriate for either 'use for quiet rides or family groups' or other roads.
2. Who cares about car club parking on a cycle map?
3. Sheendale Road is shown as continuous across the railway track. It has steps on I think both sides.
4. Last time I took the A316 I saw multiple signs requiring me to dismount on the 'cycle path' heading to Twickenham. While parts of the route are marked with a path, large parts of it are narrow, unmarked, plainly dangerous to cycle on, or all three: it is utterly inappropriate to claim the A316 as a continuous cycle route.
5. If you followed the map, you'd think to yourself that there's about one safe place (excusing Sheendale Road) to cross the train line if you're in a 'quiet family group'.
6. Signs that say "No crossing facility"? What are those meant to tell map users?
7. Parts of the South Circular *do* have reasonably wide cycle lanes, but they're not even marked.

In a wider sense, though, I'd like to know what the borough is doing to encourage children to cycle to school? And by this, I mean the provision of safe cycling routes which connect their homes and schools: it's my impression that not a single primary school in the borough enables its children to cycle to their school without havng to mix with traffic, and our only solution seems to be giving pupils lessons.

My children won't be ready for school for another 3 years, but by then I expect my borough to support children of 6 and up to be able to ride to school without having to play Russian Roulette with buses, cars and trucks: if the average adult in Richmond is too scared to take the correct position on our roads, how do you think children feel?

Yours sincerely,

Tim Lennon.