The wives of two cyclist killed while taking part in a charity ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats have said that road traffic laws in the UK are too “lenient” making it difficult or even impossible for the families of many victims of road traffic collisions to secure justice. The criticism came as a lorry driver pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving in connection with the incident in July last year.
Andrew McMenigall, aged 47, and Toby Wallace, 36, were 40 miles into their 960-mile ride, aimed at raising money in memory of a work colleague who had died of cancer, when they were struck by a lorry driven by 32-year-old Robert Palmer near Newquay.
According to the Daily Mail, in a joint statement issued after Palmer had pleaded guilty the victims’ widows, Claire Wallace and Anne McMenigall, said: “There are no words to describe the devastation and loss that we, and both families, feel following the deaths of our husbands, they were exceptional and giant men in every sense of the word.
“It is a tragedy that so many other families are also mourning loved ones who have been killed on Britain’s roads, particularly when many of these deaths were completely avoidable.
“So many of these families do not ever see this charge brought against the person who has killed their husband, their child, their brother, their father.
“UK transport laws are lenient, charges are difficult and onerous to attain and less and less resource is being dedicated to road traffic collisions.
“We would like to thank everyone who has supported us and been involved in getting us this far.
The statement concluded: “Toby and Andrew loved cycling, we believe that the rise in the popularity of the sport must be met by those with the responsibility to improve our transport infrastructure and improve education for drivers.”
Ex-army officer Mr McMenigall lived with his wife and daughter in Edinburgh, where he worked for Aberdeen Asset Management.
Mr Wallace, who was born in the UK and helped Cambridge win the Boat Race while studying there, worked for the same firm in the United States.
Their charity ride aimed to raise money for the Kirsten Scott Memorial Trust, set up in memory of a colleague who had died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 25, and for an Edinburgh-based charity, It’s Good 2 Give.
During yesterday’s hearing at Truro Crown Court, Palmer, from Bude, also entered a guilty plea to another count of dangerous driving relating to an incident near Okehampton in September last year.
He will be sentenced on 1 September.
National cyclists’ organisation CTC has published a series of reports under its Road Justice campaign that focus on the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of road traffic offences where the victim is a vulnerable road user.
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.