John Toon was killed in a collision with a car on the A38 northbound exit slip road near Littleover. He was using a cycle crossing near the beginning of a slip road, which has a number of obvious attributes that present severe danger, including:
- closing speeds are around 70mph, making collision consequences severe, time-to-impact judgements difficult and the effects of certain unexpected events such as a chain slip potentially catastrophic
- the fact that the slip road has two lanes means vehicles can easily be obscured behind others, creating a risk of failure to see, especially if crossing from the nearside when a fast-moving vehicle can easily be obscured by a slower-moving one
- the proximity of the crossing to the start of the slip road means there is less time to be certain of drivers’ intentions, particularly if a driver makes a late decision to leave the main carriageway (the crossing is approximately 80m from the start of the chevrons that mark the split in the carriageways; the standard stopping distance at 70mph is 96m)
- the right-angle turns at both sides of the crossing mean that cyclists must slow down while still crossing the live lanes, adding complexity to the manoeuvre and making timing judgements more difficult
- the tactile paving at the edges of the carriageway (because this is, quite astonishingly, also an uncontrolled pedestrian crossing which blind people are somehow expected to use) mean that in wet conditions a cyclist must turn—and potentially also brake—on an extremely low-friction surface, creating a significant risk of falling into a live lane
An inquest held in December 2016 heard that dashcam evidence from a lorry showed the driver involved in the collision moving from the middle lane to the slip road, suggesting that at least the third issue listed above was likely a factor in this death. Detective constable Gary Wilson said he asked the Highways Agency why the crossing was situated so near to the start of the slip lane; he said the response was that it was “something they were going to look at”. (No available reports indicate whether it was something they looked at before constructing it.) Assistant coroner Anna Crawford said that she would also be asking about the design.
Toon had himself predicted a death at the crossing where he died. His widow Kate said at the inquest, “John said it was a fatal and lethal crossing. It’s a death trap but even after John’s death nothing has been done about it. If money is the reason nothing has been done about it, then they should scrap the cycle crossing.”
Crawford recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision.
This crossing is discussed in the article How to Design a Death.