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Coroner warns council over tram line safety after cyclist's bus crash death

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A CYCLIST who died after a collision with a bus fell moments before the impact when his bike slipped as he rode across tram lines near East Croydon, an inquest heard.

Roger de Klerk, 43, was trapped under the 410 bus after falling on the lines at the junction of Cherry Orchard Road and Addiscombe Road on November 12 last year.

South London Coroner Selena Lynch today said she will to write to Croydon Council's highways department to ask that they "urgently" look at the provision for cyclists at the junction, and on the tram system in Croydon as a whole.

She added she was "in do doubt whatsoever" the tram lines led to Mr de Klerk's death, which she recorded as a road traffic collision.

"The wheels of his bike came into contact with the tram lines, causing him to lose control and fall on his right hand side into the path of a bus. The bus driver had no time to take avoiding action or to stop."

The court heard how CCTV evidence from the bus and a nearby tram showed Mr de Klerk falling when he pulled away to turn right after both he and the bus were stopped at traffic lights.

Anastasia Maison, a passenger on the bus, said she heard a "crunch" during the collision.

"When he fell, I remember screaming at him falling, then we heard the sound and everyone on the bus started screaming. The bus wasn't moving fast."

The driver of the bus, Laura Leonard, had been driving for Arriva for seven years at the time of the collision.

She told the court: "I saw him at the lights, he was waiting at the lights to the left in front of the bus. As the traffic moved off I checked the van in front had gone and I turned to look and the cyclist had gone, then I moved off. There was no cyclist in view until I saw him fall.

"I was moving from the traffic lights, so I couldn't say exactly the speed I was going, but perhaps around 10 miles per hour.

"I felt something, but I was hoping really it was just the bike. I can't really say much more, because it still upsets me now, thinking about his family."

After being freed from under the bus by firefighters, Mr De Klerk, who was "deeply unconscious", was taken to St George's hospital in Tooting, but died shortly after arrival.

A post-mortem report revealed the cause of death as compression of the head, neck and chest.

Mr De Klerk's mother, Anna De Klerk, described her son, who lived in Forest Hill, as "happy, healthy and active."

"He was always extremely safety conscious, he always wore a helmet and hi-vis clothing."

She said he had phoned her the morning before his death.

"He told me he was going to Croydon to get his mobile phone repaired at a shop near East Croydon station, as far as I'm aware, the day of the accident was the first time he had cycled there.

"He was happy and really looking forward to getting a new work venture set up."

Delivering her ruling, Mrs Lynch said: "The need to keep cyclists away from danger is ever-present. We hear talk about lorries, but it seems to me that tram lines may also be a problem for them, particularly for those not used to cycling where there are tram lines."

Coroner warns council over tram line safety after cyclist's bus crash death


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