London’s blue cycle lane confusion may lead to more deaths

Coroner urges Mayor to take action

A motorist drives in the bus lane behind a cyclist on an unbordered section of Cycle Superhighway 7

The coroner who concluded inquests into the deaths of two cyclists in London warned today that confusion over blue cycle lanes could cause further fatalities.


Coroner Mary Hassell’s Prevention of Future Death report followed hearings into the deaths of Brian Dorling and Philippine de Gerin-Ricard last week. Hassell warned London Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London that the blue Barclays Cycle Superhighway lanes that weren’t bordered with a white line confused motorists and cyclists alike.

Hassell reported that the unbordered blue lanes (which offer no legal protection to cyclists – ed), can lull them into a false sense of security and into unsafe positions – particularly approaching roundabouts.

Hassell reported motorists may also believe they have to stay out of blue unbordered lanes and so straddle two regular car lanes where there is not enough room to accommodate both. Alternatively motorists may be also feel they can drive in blue lanes all the time – even when they are bordered with white paint.

Hassell said more public awareness work was needed to educate cyclists on traffic dangers such as undertaking large vehicles – particularly nearing junctions – and where appropriate, suggesting they cycle closer to the middle of the lane so they are more visible to motorists.

Hassell concluded: “In my opinion, action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe that you [Johnson] and the Transport for London have the power to take such action.”

Campaign groups have welcomed what they saw as the plain force of Hassell’s report.

Mike Cavenett of the London Cycling Campaign said: “The condemnation for trying to encourage cyclists – particularly novice cyclists – to ride through a junction like Aldgate along a road busy with thousands of vehicles going past a day and  having blue paint as the only protection simply isn’t good enough.”

The mayor now has until 16 December to reply to the coroner’s report where he will detail a plan to prevent future deaths, or argue why no action will be taken.


The mayor’s vision for cycling published in March, included a pledge to “Substantially improve the existing Barclays Cycle Superhighways.”