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Tragic cyclist 'caught in lorry's blind spot'

The Islington Gazette: Tragic cyclist ’caught in lorry’s blind spot’

28 October 2009

A CYCLIST crushed under the wheels of a cement mixer could have been in its blind spot, a court heard.

Trainee architect Rebecca Goossen, 29, died after being caught on the inside of a left-turning lorry at the junction of Goswell Road and Old Street, Finsbury. She was the third cyclist to be crushed under a cement mixer in Islington in two years.

A safety campaigner has claimed that Ms Goossen could have been saved if the London Concrete lorry had been fitted with an extra safety device.

The cement mixer was fitted with an alarm that warned fellow road-users that it was turning left - a manoeuvre that can prove fatal to cyclists passing it on the inside.

But it did not have an alarm to warn drivers in its blind spot.

Cynthia Barlow, chairwoman of campaign organisation RoadPeace, whose 24-year-old daughter Alex Jane McVitty was killed in a collision with a cement mixer in 2000, said: "After my daughter was killed, I bought shares in the company - which is now Cemex. One of the things Cemex did was put sensors down the left-hand side of the vehicle which alert the driver if there is somebody on the inside.

"Three years ago, I asked London Concrete to do the same. But they have only installed half the system - the part that warns others it is turning left.

"The coroner should write a letter to London Concrete. There are no such things as blind spots. There are only difficult-to-see spots."

The tragedy happened on April 9 as Ms Goossen was cycling to her job at Metropolitan Workshop in Cowcross Street, Finsbury.

Ms Goosen, of Globe Road, Bethnal Green, wanted to return home to Germany, register as an architect, and settle down with boyfriend Maher Doughly.

St Pancras Court Coroner’s Court heard last Thursday that the Lithuanian lorry driver, Valdas Urbanas, only realised something had happened when he felt his cement mixer go over something. Mr Urbanas said: "I felt my truck jump. I felt in my heart that something had happened."

Collision investigation Mark Crouch told the court that the vehicle had no defects and was fitted with all regulation mirrors - but Ms Goossen could still have been "either completely or entirely obscured to the driver".

Coroner Dr Andrew Reid recorded a verdict of accidental death, saying: "It’s not possible to exclude the possibility that she was in one of the few blindspots."

Friend Cristina Schoenborn said Ms Goossen’s family would "never get a sense of resolution" but welcomed Islington Council’s decision spend £300,000 on making the junction safer.

London Concrete declined to comment.