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Ben Carroll's father urges review of event safety rules to prevent similar tragedies in future...

A finding of accidental death has been recorded in connection with the death of a cyclist who died following a head-on collision with a van while taking part in a race in Abergavenny. The victim's father has urged that event safety rules be changed to prevent similar tragedies.

Ben Carroll, aged 26 and from Cardiff, died in hospital the day after the crash which happened during a race forming part of the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling in July last year.

The Cardiff Ajax rider was among riders contesting the finish on the A40 of the 45-mile Abergavenny Road Race on the evening of 9 July, reports the Free Press.

Mr Carroll, with several other riders, had crossed over to the right-hand side of the two-lane road, putting them into the path of oncoming traffic, the inquest was told.

Deputy coroner for Gwent Wendy James found that there was nothing at fault with the driving of Tobias John Wilding, who had been travelling in the opposite direction when he collided with the cyclists.

He told the inquest: “I tried to slow down and veered on the grassy verge to the side to try and avoid them, but in a split second Ben collided with the front side.”

The inquest also heard that between eight and ten other riders came down in the crash, one suffering minor injuries.

Recording her conclusion, Ms James said: “It is commendable that people indulge their passion for cycling, but the safety of themselves and other road users must be paramount.

“Ben was a talented young man with a promising future ahead of him, but his life was snuffed out which is nothing short of a tragedy.

“I find myself fortunate today not to be conducting inquests into multiple deaths caused by the accident.”

Mr Carroll's family attended the inquest and afterwards his father urged that road racing rules by changed to prevent others meeting the same fate as his son.

He said: “Why was the road not closed for the final mile of the race?

"We have no issue with race protocols which were followed on the day, but we suggest that may be they should be changed in future.”

Following Mr Carroll's death, a spokesperson for British Cycling said: “Fortunately, this kind of incident is rare.

"British Cycling takes rider safety extremely serious and it remains the most important priority at any event."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

21 comments

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Angelfishsolo [134 posts] 3 years ago
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Racing should never be allowed on open roads. It is an insanity it is allowed.

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userfriendly [610 posts] 3 years ago
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Yeah, I'm having a bit of a hard time understanding why a race would be held on roads with traffic. Why would you race in traffic? Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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That's an over reaction, it can be done properly (first post i mean assuming by open you mean the public highways as they are or closed?)

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anarchy [100 posts] 3 years ago
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Angelfishsolo wrote:

Racing should never be allowed on open roads. It is an insanity it is allowed.

That's why road racing was stopped in this country years ago and we did time trials instead

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userfriendly [610 posts] 3 years ago
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It can be done properly, I'm sure. But it also can go horribly wrong, like in this instance. I may be overreacting, granted, but I do not think that traffic and racing should mix.

Why not have the road closed off for a few minutes until all the riders have gone past?

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monty dog [463 posts] 3 years ago
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I see this all too frequently in races - riders crossing the white line into oncoming traffic. BC / Commissaires need to come down hard - sanctioning any rider that does so, straight-forward DNF. In races a lot of 'lazy' riders use it to move up with the bunch prior to a corner, causing it to squeeze and bunch and sometimes causes crashes.
Mind you, had a rider this morning come around a 90 degree bend, cross the white line headlong onto my side of the road whilst I was driving - he wasn't going fast and clearly wasn't concentrating - complete numbty.

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mattsccm [356 posts] 3 years ago
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Usual uninformed knee jerk reactions above.
This isn't why racing was stopped on roads. To insist on closed roads would stop racing in the UK dead. It just isn't possible to do it.
And just when was the last death in a race that was caused by a car? I assume that those who make the fuss above also want to stop all road cycling. It is rather more dangerous after all. I know lets stop driving. That kills people as well.
! death is sad but not the reason to stop something.
Idiotic comments.
To be honest and I am uncomfortable saying this as I wasn't there but do know the site, it was the riders choice to cross onto the other carriage way. that's as daft as me doing it on my ride earlier. On the same road actually. I have the deepest sympathy for the riders family and also for the van driver who will forever wonder if he could have avoided something that was not his fault.

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sean1 [177 posts] 3 years ago
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Angelfishsolo wrote:

Racing should never be allowed on open roads. It is an insanity it is allowed.

Road racing in Britain has been held on open roads for many years. Thousands of races with no serious accidents or fatalities.

It can be done safely and with good marshalling and a vehicle escort the race peleton effectively moves within a closed road.

In most road races I have taken part in, the finishing straight has usually been turned into a temporary 'closed road' by the use of race vehicles and NEG motorcycles.

Recently the government permitted accredited race marshalls to legally halt traffic for short durations which should make road junctions and finishing areas easier to make traffic free. British Cycling is currently running training courses for these marshalls.

Getting permission for road closures is complex and expensive so the accredited marshalls scheme is a good solution.

If you look at accident statistics there are more serious incidents in time trial events than road racing.

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userfriendly [610 posts] 3 years ago
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mattsccm wrote:

Usual uninformed knee jerk reactions above.
Idiotic comments.

The article made no mention of race vehicles and NEG motorcycles in front of the cyclists or marshalls anywhere near them in that situation. It described a bunch of cyclists racing into oncoming traffic with no support and nothing to warn the van driver.

The situation as described was what I was referring to. Feel free to find that uninformed and idiotic, just like I feel free to find your comment rude and completely uncalled for. It's a free country.

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

To insist on closed roads would stop racing in the UK dead.

Ok i'll bite...

No it wouldn't, if it did why are public highways still closed for motor "racing"?

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pwake [423 posts] 3 years ago
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userfriendly wrote:
mattsccm wrote:

Usual uninformed knee jerk reactions above.
Idiotic comments.

The article made no mention of race vehicles and NEG motorcycles in front of the cyclists or marshalls anywhere near them in that situation. It described a bunch of cyclists racing into oncoming traffic with no support and nothing to warn the van driver.

The situation as described was what I was referring to. Feel free to find that uninformed and idiotic, just like I feel free to find your comment rude and completely uncalled for. It's a free country.

I would think that mattsccm's comments were more directed at the very first post, which was quite clearly a knee-jerk reaction and, possibly, someone playing devil's advocate.
Road races can be run very responsibly and safely on open roads, as this one likely was. EVERY race if have ever competed in (I've raced since the eighties in both UK and USA) has had a rider's briefing, where any safety/traffic issues are communicated and the rules, both race and road, are re-iterated. The biggest emphasis is always, in my experience, on the 'centre line' rule i.e. you do not cross it, even if no physical line is marked and you have to use an imaginary line. Here in the US we have motorcycle referees who STRICTLY enforce this; if you cross the centre line they call you out and you have to drift right to the back of the bunch and stay there for 30 seconds. Doesn't sound much, but it's a major pain in the arse actually. Repeat the offence and you are DQ'd.
A lot of races will have the final 1/4 mile or so completely closed when the main bunch contests the finish, but this is not always possible. It appears, in this case, that only half the road was available for the race; unfortunately, this young man and several others chose to knowingly break the rules and endanger themselves and others. He paid far, far too high a price. As you stated "it's a free country" (not a phrase I like, as it's usually spouted by people looking to justify actions of their own that are detrimental to others and it's not strictly true, as we are all governed by the state and it's laws), but anyway, freedom to make choices also means responsibility. I'm sure that, if he could, this young man would take responsibility for his actions and would not be calling for a sport he obviously loved to be banned; to do so is actually to besmirch his memory IMHO...

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userfriendly [610 posts] 3 years ago
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pwake wrote:

As you stated "it's a free country" (not a phrase I like, as it's usually spouted by people looking to justify actions of their own that are detrimental to others and it's not strictly true, as we are all governed by the state and it's laws), but anyway, freedom to make choices also means responsibility. I'm sure that, if he could, this young man would take responsibility for his actions and would not be calling for a sport he obviously loved to be banned; to do so is actually to besmirch his memory IMHO...

I think you got two things here with the rubbery side up. One, no one is calling for road racing to be banned. What I, and as I understand it the first commenter as well, pointed out that racing your bike in traffic when there are no safety measures taken is a bit insane. The article makes no mention of there having been any safety measures in place at the time of the incident which is how it could take place to begin with.

Two, I used the "it's a free country" phrase facetiously. Given my views on the role of the government / state, people from the US would probably call me a socialist.

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pwake [423 posts] 3 years ago
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userfriendly wrote:
pwake wrote:

As you stated "it's a free country" (not a phrase I like, as it's usually spouted by people looking to justify actions of their own that are detrimental to others and it's not strictly true, as we are all governed by the state and it's laws), but anyway, freedom to make choices also means responsibility. I'm sure that, if he could, this young man would take responsibility for his actions and would not be calling for a sport he obviously loved to be banned; to do so is actually to besmirch his memory IMHO...

I think you got two things here with the rubbery side up. One, no one is calling for road racing to be banned. What I, and as I understand it the first commenter as well, pointed out that racing your bike in traffic when there are no safety measures taken is a bit insane. The article makes no mention of there having been any safety measures in place at the time of the incident which is how it could take place to begin with.

Two, Iyo used the "it's a free country" phrase facetiously. Given my views on the role of the government / state, people from the US would probably call me a socialist.

Sorry. You're correct; no one has stated it should be banned per se, but it's an understanding of the situation with regard to race promotion that some are maybe not familiar with. As seanbolton stated above "Getting permission for road closures is complex and expensive..."; the effect if calling for closed roads for every race would definitely be an immediately reduced race calendar and this at a time when cycling is booming in the UK. It looks like BC are taking a very pragmatic approach to this with the accredited marshalls scheme and they, you would hope, probably know more about the situation than any of us here.
Didn't pick up on the facetiousness; that's the problem with written communication, those subtleties don't come through well. Let's not get started on politics, always best avoided!

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SteppenHerring [338 posts] 3 years ago
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I've marshalled on quite a few races. Yes, there can be problems with riders crossing the centre line without sufficient visibility (remember, vehicles are allowed to overtake on the other side of the road providing it's safe and it's not a solid white line). Yes, officials should be penalising people more when they do it and it's not safe.

Where possible also we do try to stop all traffic just for the finish. At the moment, marshalls here have zero power so you're relying on motorists behaving nicely (which they do 99% of the time).

But there are hundreds if not thousands of races run every year on open roads and fatalities are mercifuly rare. People criticizing ought to go and watch one running to see how it's done - there are lead cars with flashing lights, often NEG outriders. The whole thing can be done very professionally and safely.

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mattsccm [356 posts] 3 years ago
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Thank you pwake and northstar. People who read and think.
I must admit to commenting on the incident not the report though which is incomplete.

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DrJDog [413 posts] 3 years ago
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northstar wrote:

No it wouldn't, if it did why are public highways still closed for motor "racing"?

I believe there is no such thing as closed road motor racing in the UK (on the mainland, anyway, NI is an exception) any more. All hillclimbs, sprints, etc. are held on private grounds.

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OldRidgeback [2777 posts] 3 years ago
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DrJDog wrote:
northstar wrote:

No it wouldn't, if it did why are public highways still closed for motor "racing"?

I believe there is no such thing as closed road motor racing in the UK (on the mainland, anyway, NI is an exception) any more. All hillclimbs, sprints, etc. are held on private grounds.

Rally racing stages are held on public roads that are closed for the events. One of them goes past my brother's every year. He doesn't much appreciate it, what with the noise, the spectators and the restricted movement, but knew this when he moved to the village.

This was a sad event. My sympathies are with the rider's family and also the van driver. The rider did something stupid and paid a heavy price.

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kcr [153 posts] 3 years ago
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...racing your bike in traffic when there are no safety measures taken is a bit insane. The article makes no mention of there having been any safety measures in place at the time of the incident which is how it could take place to begin with...

All UK road races have to be run in accordance with a very specific set of guidelines. This includes risk assessment, the use of marshalls, lead cars, motorcycle marshalls, and usually police approval is required.

As noted by previous posters, riders will always be advised about their duty to remain on the left hand side of the road, and race commissaires are typically very strict about anyone breaking this rule. It's not unusual for races to be stopped for a lecture by the commissaire if riders are repeatedly crossing the centre line, and individuals may be DQ'd.

I cannot comment on this unfortunate incident, but the normal approach for a race with a bunch sprint finish would be to flag down any traffic approaching from the other direction and ask them to pull over briefly until the bunch crosses the line.

The only properly closed road racing I have experienced has been in the Isle of Man. In the UK, major road races may have rolling closures, but the only full closures I have ever seen have been very limited ones for short hill climb courses.

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smaryka [19 posts] 3 years ago
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In Wales, marshals are allowed to stop traffic (given the same rights as police to do so) provided they are accredited as per this link, http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/wales/article/wcst-Welsh-Cycling-neg-csas The marshals are "employed" by Welsh Cycling in order to do this.

Not sure if these marshals were in place during this race, or if so, whether the job was done properly to stop traffic at the end.
Presumably not if the driver was not found at fault for anything?

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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DrJDog wrote:
northstar wrote:

No it wouldn't, if it did why are public highways still closed for motor "racing"?

I believe there is no such thing as closed road motor racing in the UK (on the mainland, anyway, NI is an exception) any more. All hillclimbs, sprints, etc. are held on private grounds.

You believe wrong.

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rogermerriman [115 posts] 3 years ago
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there are a quite a number of turning down that section of the old raglan road. be that farms, Pubs or lanes going else where to cover with a Marshal.

if it was a closed road considering the lack of traffic and easy alternative route using the A40 would be easy to marshal from Raglan since bar a footpath there are no turning.

knowing the road it's difficult to see fault with the driver, it's a fairly twisty road with blind bends etc.