Personal tragedies, predictable causes: case studies of cyclist deaths

cycle4life_10This page tells the stories of some deaths of cyclists on British roads and the causes of those deaths.

Case study: The Ryl Disaster

For 12 members of Rhyl Cycling Club, it should have been a leisurely Sunday ride along a favourite route. But when an oncoming car hit black ice, the day turned instantly to disaster - three men and a 14-year-old boy were killed in Britain’s worst ever bike crash. The car veered across the A547, crashing into them. Those who died were: 14 year old Thomas Harland; Maurice Broadbent, 61, the chairman of the club; Dave Horrocks, 55, who had caught the cycling bug after he and his wife were given bikes by their son; and Wayne Wilkes, 42, who was cycling with his own son. Bad driving and lack of road gritting contributed to Britain’s “worst cycling disaster,” said coroner John Hughes. “The evidence shows classic signs that Robert Harris, driving a Toyota Corolla, was driving without due care and attention and he admitted his responsibility in going too fast. I fail to understand why no proceedings were brought against him.” The Inquest’s jury ruled out accidental death and returned a narrative verdict. Hughes also pointed out a failure to grit roads after calls had been made alerting officials to the ice after another driver had skidded earlier. The cyclists had set out on a 60-mile trip between Great Orme and Llanrwst, in what they believed was fine weather, in pairs and wearing helmets. Harris was fined in separate criminal proceedings for having defective tyres.
Read the BBC report.

Case Study: Tired driver kills champion cyclist

Champion speed cyclist Zak Carr was killed in October 2005 by a motorist thought to have dozed off at the wheel who drove into the back of him. The crash happened on the A11 near Wymondham, Norfolk at 7.30am. Forty-nine year old driver, Donald Pearce, was travelling home from a holiday in Turkey, having missed a night’s sleep. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
Read the BBC report.

Case Study: Collisions with trucks

33 year old Ninian Donald was killed when the driver of a skip lorry, turning at a junction, failed to spot him. The driver was not prosecuted because he had legal mirrors. Ninian left behind his partner Kate Evenden and their 19 month old daughter Ava Rose. Kate is campaigning for wide-angled mirrors on trucks and training for large vehicle drivers about cyclists. She says: “Ava Rose asks for her father every day. I have pictures of him around and tell her all about him but our lives have been changed for ever.”
Read the Evening Standard report.

In February 2006, 32 year old Patricia McMillan was cycling to work in Kensington, London, listening to music on her iPod. She was hit by an articulated lorry and crushed to death. A spokesperson from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said “If you are on a bike, you need to be aware of what is going on around you - and you can’t be if you’re listening to music.”
Read the Daily Mirror report.

Case Study: Speeding, texting car driver

Nineteen year old Jordan Wickington was killed by a speeding 25 year old who was texting her husband while driving at 45mph in a 30mph zone through a junction in Southampton. Jordan rode through a red light and was hit by the car. Kiera Coultas, found guilty of Death by Dangerous Driving, had already received three fixed penalty tickets for speeding in the same area.
Read the Daily Telegraph report.

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