Cyclist killed in two-car collision in Norfolk; police say 'low winter sun' a problem on the roads that day

Police also seek information about male cyclist found dead in country lane in North Wales

by Sarah Barth   December 3, 2013  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

A cyclist has been killed in a collision in Norfolk in a two-car collision on Sunday in what police said were difficult conditions due to low winter sun, and a local councillor said was an 'accident blackspot'.

An unnamed male cyclist died at the scene, and the driver of a silver Ford Focus was taken to hospital with minor injuries. The second driver, of a grey Volkswagen Jetta, was unharmed.

Ian Graham, Broadland district councillor for Aylsham, told the Eastern Daily Press: “You do get a lot of traffic on that road and it is a 50mph speed limit but a lot of traffic, especially from Aylsham, does not obey the speed limit. Speeding is not unusual there.”

Staff and customers of the Plough Inn, close to the scene on the A140 in Marsham, went to help when the collision happened at around 2.55pm.

Roger Stock, owner of the Plough, said: “We did what we could and that was talk to the ambulance staff. There were several customers who could help and a couple of them were medically trained.”

Part-time teacher Kate Ross, 36, who lives close to the Plough, had driven past the cyclist on the road before the crash happened.

She said he was wearing a helmet, high visibility clothing and had lights on his bike.

She added: “This road for cyclists really dangerous. I wouldn’t cycle on it. I saw a car veer across the road and hit a lamp post. The amount of accidents on the A140 is not a surprise anymore.”

Police have appealed for any witnesses to the crash to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Team at Wymondham on 101.

@NorfolkPolice tweeted: "dealing with several road traffic collisions around Norfolk at present. take extra care - low winter sun affecting visibility #norfolkroads"

In addition, a cyclist was found dead in the road in North Wales, with police seeking anyone with information.

Police say he is believed he came off his bike in Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd, Ruthin, where he was found at around midday on Saturday, November 30.

The man, who is believed to be from the Stockport area, was pronounced dead at the scene. If his death was due to a motor vehicle it will be the 16th on the roads in November.

Inquiries are currently continuing to establish the full circumstances of the incident, but anyone with information is encouraged to contact North Wales Police on 101 quoting ref no P195897.

32 user comments

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Al__S wrote:
Quick check of the road direction- bascially north south, with slight tilt that would mean low sun may be a problem before noon. Not so much after it. Confused

Don't let facts get in the way of excuses. Although to be fair I read this as a number of accidents, ie more than one, and for some the sun may have been an issue, ie not this one but others.

either way is low sun really an acceptable excuse*? I mean if I go before a court and said I was wearing a blindfold driving, it isn't my fault I couldn't see. Would it be acceptable?

*yes I know drivers have successfully used I was blinded by the sun and didn't think slowing down was appropriate.

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posted by mrmo [1006 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 11:10

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It is, of course, quite normal for the police to make excuses for poor driving. They are far too ready to accept the flimsiest explanation and even to fabricate ridiculous excuses when the far more obvious reason, extremely poor, dangerous driving is to blame.

StevieG

posted by stevengoodfellow [38 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 11:10

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mrmo wrote:
Al__S wrote:
Quick check of the road direction- bascially north south, with slight tilt that would mean low sun may be a problem before noon. Not so much after it. Confused

Don't let facts get in the way of excuses. Although to be fair I read this as a number of accidents, ie more than one, and for some the sun may have been an issue, ie not this one but others.

either way is low sun really an acceptable excuse*? I mean if I go before a court and said I was wearing a blindfold driving, it isn't my fault I couldn't see. Would it be acceptable?

*yes I know drivers have successfully used I was blinded by the sun and didn't think slowing down was appropriate.

Totally agree, ridiculous that 'I couldn't see but carried on driving anyway' is an acceptable excuse, surely you're admitting driving without due care if nothing else ?

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posted by colinth [183 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 11:14

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stevengoodfellow wrote:
It is, of course, quite normal for the police to make excuses for poor driving. They are far too ready to accept the flimsiest explanation and even to fabricate ridiculous excuses when the far more obvious reason, extremely poor, dangerous driving is to blame.

Well, its probably not appropriate to comment on this particular incident right now.

But in general, yeah, I have to say I am dubious as to whether RTAs, particularly those involving cyclists or pedestrians, are investigated with the same level of rigour as other serious accidents, or indeed crimes. I'm quite suspicious that the police have the same car-centric, motorist-excusing bias that afflicts the rest of society (the vast majority of them drive a lot themselves, after all). I suppose its the same suspicion that many out-groups have when such things happen.

edit - of course outcomes are also partly down to the CPS and to juries and judges/magistrates. If a whole population shares a certain bias its liable to affect the whole process.

One specific gripe is how rarely the aftermath of such accidents is properly reported. Time-and-again you'll read of a serious incident, incuding fatal ones, and wonder how that happened (including wondering is there anything I can learn from it that I should watch out for when cycling), but then it will disappear from the media and if there ever is a verdict as to what happened you will likely never hear what it is.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [617 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 12:01

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Reduced visibility due to low sun/fog/rain/whatever? SLOW DOWN!

I am sick of hearing feeble excuses, if you cannot see properly and do not take appropriate action you should be 100% liable for your actions. I was nearly taken out in a head-on collision a couple of weeks ago where low sun was undoubtedly the issue, with the driver swerving at the last second to avoid me. She was however driving at a crazy speed for the conditions - a muddy single width country lane.

When did the age of personal responsibility come to an end?

posted by sorebones [103 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 12:04

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Typical excuses for sure. Yep, try walking down the high street with a blind fold on whilst swinging a crow bar around and see where a similarly lame excuse as to your conduct will get you.

This readiness to excuse such plain stupidity is a critical barrier to address. Personal responsibility for your own actions does seem to have been eroded for some years now, seemingly nothing is actually anyone's fault any more...unless you can attach a claim to it with a privately executed legal claim.

Perhaps families of those left behind by such acts of stupidity should instigate civil suits against the estates of those responsible. So, the court punishes the driver with a sit on the naughty step and an £80 fine but then the remaining family introduce an actual deterrent by obtaining a crippling court order for damages to be paid over whatever period necessary by the offender.

I mean, if you earn say £1200 month and have disposable income of maybe £150 it will get pretty tedious having that removed month after month after month to pay for your actions.

Perhaps such stories of woe filtering into society will encourage others to behave themselves when faced with the prospect of essentially being broke for years to come. I acknowledge there are issues with this but let's face it, the current flashing road signs and softly softly approach to pleading with motorists to stop the killing is hardly working is it?

Unfortunately a monetary penalty may be the only real thing the die hard petrol head might understand in combination with lifelong driving bans for those found guilty of taking life or effectively ending life through serious injury caused by recklessness.

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [115 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 12:59

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Excuses excuses. Never the bloody driver's fault!

poor visibility? slow the feck down. simple. anyone who doesn't and causes a collision should be charged with careless or even dangerous driving.

posted by gazza_d [175 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 13:11

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Never let the facts get in the way of a good rant eh?

The Norfolk Police tweeted that people should take care on account of the low winter sun affecting visibility. This is reasonable advice for road users (if a bit bleedin' obvious).

It is the headline writer who has linked this to the cause of the RTA, not the police -- another example of Road.cc's editorial team egging on the rabid tendency among its readers.

Note to sub-editor: stick to the facts.

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posted by harman_mogul [111 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 13:24

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I don't feel too strongly about this. I think they just bunged two things into one point in a tweet. Road.cc's headline is overegging things here. Plenty to get angry about elsewhere.

posted by vbvb [212 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 13:34

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As I read the report in the local paper:
http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/witness_appeal_after_cyclist_dies_on_a140_at...

The cyclist was traveling in one direction (south) and the car the other (North)

posted by HowardR [18 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 13:38

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While there is an investigation on-going, any Police statement will only give the basic facts, of the incident.

http://www.norfolk.police.uk/newsandevents/newsstories/2013/december/fat...

The Police have not indicated that 'low sun' is a factor in this incident.

posted by wwfcb [63 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 13:49

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Ahem...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8pX52v_yNA

Incidentally, 'sun' was a factor when me and my mate got shunted off a road a couple of years ago - no prosecutions despite my mate's bike being hit with enough force to taco the rear wheel and mangle the bejeezus out of the frame

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posted by andylul [410 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 13:52

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just thinking, would the police saying an accident, at this stage of the investigation, was caused by low sun be in anyway a illegal? ie predjucing the trial????

If after a formal investigation low sun is found to be a factor, fine, imo it is never a cause!, but until a formal investigation is concluded are the police legally allowed to say it was caused by?

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posted by mrmo [1006 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 14:23

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Of course the "I was blinded by the sun" excuse should never be accepted. There is a very simple set of premises:

1) If you can't see then don't drive (or cycle)
2) If you can't see far then drive (or cycle) slowly enough to be able to stop within the distance you can see

Having suffered from two different eye conditions that left me more susceptible to dazzle than normal I am well aware of how being dazzled can affect you and I'm also well aware that all motor vehicles are equipped with devices to control their speed and to stop.

No excuses really then, are there?

Shay

posted by shay cycles [209 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 14:42

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@ Road.cc headline writer:

When changing inflamatory and much discussed headline from

police say 'low winter sun' could be a factor

to

police say 'low winter sun' a problem on the roads that day

you ought maybe to add an edit note to the story, to allow the comments to continue making sense. Nicer for future readers!

posted by vbvb [212 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 15:19

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These are all good points. A good rule of thumb for cyclists is to keep an eye on your own shadow. If it is long, and pointing directly in front of you, then recognise the potential for danger. Conversely, if the sun is directly in front of you, and close to the horizon, take a different route.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 15:21

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RIP to the two fellow cyclists, and thoughts are with their bereaved family and friends.

TDL

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posted by tourdelound [80 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 15:38

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Al__S wrote:
Quick check of the road direction- bascially north south, with slight tilt that would mean low sun may be a problem before noon. Not so much after it. Confused

Complete impunity.

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posted by cyclingDMlondon [189 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 18:23

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Whatever the situation with the investigation and the reporting of it and taking into account understandable anger at another fatality, that's a lot of comments with no mention of the people involved. If I've read right, only tourdelound has offered any sort of condolences. My thoughts and prayers are for the cyclists family.

I sympathise with the drivers too - I'm sure most of us (cyclists) also drive, and there is such a thing as a genuine accident. We wouldn't want to be vilified by those who don't know the full circumstances. While they're not dead or seriously injured, it must still be a horrendous situation to find themselves in.

Jonteam

posted by teamjon [16 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 22:56

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there's now a more detailed story on the Eastern Daily press: http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/witness_appeal_after_cyclist_dies_on_a140_at...

posted by Al__S [480 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 9:36

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If the witness is to be believed (was it the same cyclist?) they had lights, hi-viz and a helmet. So what more could they do other than not cycle on that road!

Elephant in the room. The car hit the cyclist!

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posted by mrmo [1006 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 10:03

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Absolute clear case of driving without due care and attention. However it's entirely acceptable to kill cyclist in this country and get off scott free of course. In fact why not prosecute the dead cyclist for causing the accident.
Let's see how Norfolk Constabulary perform.

posted by Guyz2010 [280 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 10:57

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Frequently ignored, 'drive as conditions allow'. Frequently used excuse,'I couldn't see, the sun was in my eyes'.

antonio

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posted by antonio [923 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 12:01

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A few weeks back whilst commuting I was seeing large numbers of cyclists with one hand up shielding their eyes from the sun. Slow down? Nah....

posted by Al__S [480 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 12:28

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Guyz2010 wrote:
Absolute clear case of driving without due care and attention. However it's entirely acceptable to kill cyclist in this country and get off scott free of course. In fact why not prosecute the dead cyclist for causing the accident.
Let's see how Norfolk Constabulary perform.

Where did you get this clear cut verdict from ? I assume that you were there and witnessed it.

posted by wwfcb [63 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 13:14

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This excuse nonsense is pretty endemic though. Only on Sunday a friend of ours was hit from behind by an overtaking driver on the outside of her car as she made a right turn from a right turn lane. This was just up the road and she stooped at our house as she was bit shocked. He (other driver) had immediately said he thought she was dithering and that she wasn't indicating. She says she was, and she was quite upset that he seemed immediately to be blaming her.

I'm an advanced driver so after giving her a cup of tea set her straight on that.

1 He was on the wrong side of the road.
2 He was overtaking on the outside of a right turn lane when their were cars in that lane.

In other words he was completely to blame 100%.

Highway Code 167
DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example:

approaching or at a road junction on either side of the road

Once she had that info on board she felt much happier. There definitely ought to be far more made of drivers claiming that others are at fault and causing even more distress and expense. As it happens I think when the insurance company sees his excuse they'll just pay up. But there ought to be a fine or sanction for time wasting adding distress etc.

I wouldn't expect people to simply admit fault for a start that might invalidate your insurance. They need to pass on details like a grown up and not indulge in making up their own traffic rules as excuses.

Shouldn't an insurance company be duty bound to note and refer driver statements when it is clear that the driver concerned seems to have no clue about appropriate driving and or the Highway code. ie where they think overtaking a right turn lane on the right is completely fine.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [495 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 13:22

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wwfcb wrote:
Guyz2010 wrote:
Absolute clear case of driving without due care and attention. However it's entirely acceptable to kill cyclist in this country and get off scott free of course. In fact why not prosecute the dead cyclist for causing the accident.
Let's see how Norfolk Constabulary perform.

Where did you get this clear cut verdict from ? I assume that you were there and witnessed it.

Why do you question? Antagonistic possibly!
Sarcasm maybe...just a view that Roadcc report these incidents and generally follow up with the fuzz just stating the driver was not to be found at fault.....despite driving over someone on a bike. If they had driven into the rear of another car and injured somebody then it seem more likely a prosecution would happen. Yep sarcasm.
My thoughts are with the relatives of the killed.

posted by Guyz2010 [280 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 22:29

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Guyz2010 wrote:
wwfcb wrote:
Guyz2010 wrote:
Absolute clear case of driving without due care and attention. However it's entirely acceptable to kill cyclist in this country and get off scott free of course. In fact why not prosecute the dead cyclist for causing the accident.
Let's see how Norfolk Constabulary perform.

Where did you get this clear cut verdict from ? I assume that you were there and witnessed it.

Why do you question? Antagonistic possibly!
Sarcasm maybe...just a view that Roadcc report these incidents and generally follow up with the fuzz just stating the driver was not to be found at fault.....despite driving over someone on a bike. If they had driven into the rear of another car and injured somebody then it seem more likely a prosecution would happen. Yep sarcasm.
My thoughts are with the relatives of the killed.

Why do I question? Because I would like to know how you are so sure that the driver is at fault, as you have undoubtedly made up your mind based on a few facts and speculation.

My thoughts are also with all concerned.

posted by wwfcb [63 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 23:40

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I live a few miles away from the scene of the accident and I am familiar with the road.
A few points to be made aware of.
It was sunny on the day concerned but at that time of day at this time of year it is not a factor.
Since cycling has become more popular I see a lot more cyclists on the roads, which is a good thing, but at this time of day, it would not have been a road I would have liked to cycle on at all. I will go miles out of my way to avoid such roads if I can.
The last point is the standard of driving around here is appalling, not all drivers, but a lot more than I would expect. I cycle to work most days and almost every journey, suffer from some chronic driving. I see people on the phone all the time, overtaking me on blind bends, my latest amazement was seeing a woman put on her reading glasses so she could read a text, whilst driving.
The road planners have a lot to answer, some of the so called traffic calming measures just forces traffic directly into my path. Vehicle drivers just see me as a soft skin and force their way through. Traffic just sees cyclists as an obsticle to get around as quickly as possible.
Sadly I fear that it will be a while before other road users change their attitude. In the mean time my thoughts go out to the family and friends of the cyclist concerned.

stormy

posted by stormsberg [4 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 23:43

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To wwfcb,
From the information article above I was expressing an opinion.
Driver hits cyclist wearing high viz, using lights and helmet in sunshine.
Highway Code 125 states '"You should always reduce your speed when - weather conditions make it safer to do so"
237 states "If you are dazzled by bright sunlight, slow down and if necessary, stop".

posted by Guyz2010 [280 posts]
4th December 2013 - 21:57

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