Inquest Hears Boris Bike Student Philippine De Gerin-Ricard Killed By Lorry

'I Heard A Rattle, And Saw Her Tumble'
A rack of Boris bikes bearing the Barclays sponsor logo in Haymarket, London.
A rack of Boris bikes bearing the Barclays sponsor logo in Haymarket, London.

The family of the first person to be killed on a "Boris bike" watched as the moment she was knocked off her wheels by a lorry was shown to her inquest.

The parents, brother and sisters of French-born student Philippine De Gerin-Ricard, 20, gasped, clutched their faces and broke down in tears as CCTV footage was played. Her sisters put a comforting arm around each other.

Coroner Mary Hassell, sitting at east London's Poplar Coroner's Court, had warned the images were "very, very graphic" as she prepared the De Gerin-Ricards and the HGV driver Richard James, who was at the wheel, for the emotional evidence.

The family watched the CCTV footage, taken from different cameras, showed Miss De Gerin-Ricard as she collided with a lorry outside Aldgate East Tube station while she rode home to Bromley-by-Bow, in east London, on July 5.

She was cycling along one of the London mayor's so-called flagship commuter cycle routes, though the section she was in provides no segregated space for cycling.

Her mother asked to see the images for a second time but by the end of it, as the family watched the footage behind their fingers, she left the court for a short break shaking with tears.

The coroner had introduced the footage with a "very strong warning" that it shows "Philippine coming off her bike and I imagine it would be very distressing for her family".

Turning to James, she added: "I know this will be very upsetting for you too."

James, an HGV driver for about 22 years, told the court he had been travelling at around 10-12mph in the slow- moving peak traffic at about 7pm. He was approaching the crossroads and the traffic lights were probably on red.

There was scaffolding from building works at one side of the road.

James told the inquest the first he knew of the crash was the sound of a "tinkling or rattling noise which I thought was my mirrors catching the scaffolding."

He added: "Then I could see a young lady tumbling backwards off her bike. Then I stopped."

His lorry was positioned "squarely" in the lane, the court heard.

Within minutes, an ambulance was at the scene and a bus driver and passers-by had stopped to try to help.

Miss De Gerin-Ricard, who suffered a collapsed left lung, was rushed to the nearby Royal London Hospital but died of multiple injuries.

Asked by the coroner if in hindsight there was anything he could have done differently, James shook his head and said "No".

Asked if there was anything he could suggest to help with the safety of road cyclists, he told the court: "Possibly with the bicycle hire scheme - the Boris bikes - they could give reflective clothing with the bikes for the riders."

On seeing the crash, bus driver Richard Brown hit a special button in his cab which contacted the emergency services, he told the inquest.

He noticed it was "very narrow" between the lorry and the scaffolding.

"It did not occur to me that she collided with the lorry but she did seem to wobble slightly, at which point she fell backwards to her right side and into the lorry," he recalled.

"I really feel there was not sufficient space for Philippine to pass or attempt to pass the lorry. I think the gap was too small to go by the lorry safely."

Asked by the coroner for some potential safety points, he suggested that perhaps roads should be kerbed off for riders at junctions, and high visibility clothes for them would also be helpful.

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