British cyclist killed in head-on collision as he descends Alpe d'Huez

Preliminary investigations suggest driver, a UK tourist, took bend too widely

by Simon_MacMichael   July 2, 2014  

Alpe d'Huez sign (licensed on Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA 3.0 by Paul 14)

A British cyclist has been killed in a head-on collision with a car as he descended Alpe d’Huez in the Rhône-Alpes region of France – with the driver of the vehicle involved being a fellow tourist from the UK.

The fatal incident took place at around 6.30pm on the evening of Sunday 29 June, reports the Dauphiné Libéré.

The 53-year-old victim, who has not been named, died at the scene despite the efforts of first-aiders to revive him.
The collision took place on bend number 17 of the road, which regularly features on the parcours of the Tour de France, including a double ascent to mark the 100th edition of the race last year.

Preliminary investigations suggest that the motorist involved took the bend too widely and was unable to avoid colliding with the cyclist.

The driver was breathalysed at the scene, and returned a negative result, reports the newspaper.

Last year, a British coach driver was proclaimed a hero after he died on the same descent due to his vehicle’s brakes malfunctioning, according to a report on ITV.com.

Maurice Wrightson, aged 64, crashed the coach into a tree and rocks rather than letting it plunge off the road and was credited with saving the lives of his 50 passengers who were returning from the Alpine resort.

Following the incident, French transport minister Frederic Cuvilliern paid tribute to Mr Wrightson’s “remarkable courage."

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Before everyone slags the driver off, "innocent unless proven guilty" please.

posted by Peowpeowpeowlasers [64 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 18:35

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FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:
Jeez even when you go abroad you still can't get away from crap british drivers.

There is a lot of whinging on here about the seemingly endless parade of bad British drivers — and undoubtedly there are some bad drivers — but if you think things are so terrible in the UK, you really haven't been around much. When you really see mass bad driving, you'll know it.

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posted by DavidC [43 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 18:48

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DavidC wrote:

There is a lot of whinging on here about the seemingly endless parade of bad British drivers — and undoubtedly there are some bad drivers — but if you think things are so terrible in the UK, you really haven't been around much. When you really see mass bad driving, you'll know it.

I've seen it. I lived in Australia for 12 years. Cycling in Britain is heaven compared to that hillbilly-infested hell hole. Devil

posted by portec [17 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 18:54

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This is terrible, deep condolences. Sad

Guys, please let's not fixate on who's from where. It is a fact that the vast majority of drivers in the UK are very good and act well. You don't know how good you have it.

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London2Paris24: 450km, 24 hours, 5th-6th July 2014

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posted by koko56 [319 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 19:21

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The original article in the Dauphiné Libere states the driver "could have" taken the bend too widely, so let's not hang the bloke yet eh?

posted by chris75018 [95 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 22:06

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The road up Alpe d'Huez I recall as being two lanes throughout. If - and it is an if - the collision was head on, then at least one of the people involved was on the wrong side of the road.

I am not interested in the nationality of the driver, nor the fact that driving may well be worse in other countries than in the UK: if someone is driving a car on the wrong side of the road into a cyclist then they have done something wrong.

posted by ChairRDRF [118 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 22:29

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Nobody on here ever found themselves driving around somewhere like the Alps, trying to keep their eyes on the road whilst doing some ooh'ing and arr'ing at the scenery only to look back at the road to see they've veered a bit over the white line?
People who know nothing about cycling just do not understand or expect bikes to go that fast or even figure on someone being up the top of a mountain on a bike in the first place.

It sounds like a horrible accident that could of happened almost anywhere to anyone..

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posted by DanTe [51 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 22:46

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DanTe wrote:
Nobody on here ever found themselves driving around somewhere like the Alps, trying to keep their eyes on the road whilst doing some ooh'ing and arr'ing at the scenery only to look back at the road to see they've veered a bit over the white line?
People who know nothing about cycling just do not understand or expect bikes to go that fast or even figure on someone being up the top of a mountain on a bike in the first place.

It sounds like a horrible accident that could of happened almost anywhere to anyone..

You've hit the nail on the head here - speed. Drivers who do not cycle on the road, at road bike speeds (so not the Sunday pootle along the canal path) simply do not compute that cyclists can (and do) regularly move at the speed of regular cars. So they misjudge the speed, pull out in front of you, around you, overtake you ...

Extra bike? What extra bike dear?

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posted by goggy [89 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 6:08

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Turn 17...... That's a left hander (descending) and anyone who has descended the alpe on a bike will tell you .....99% of cyclists (myself included) take the left handers on the wrong side to clip the apex and maintain speed so as horrible as this is it could be and is more likely to be the cyclist at fault on this one unfortunately Sad

posted by chiv30 [857 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 6:39

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'Nobody on here ever found themselves driving around somewhere like the Alps, trying to keep their eyes on the road whilst doing some ooh'ing and arr'ing at the scenery only to look back at the road to see they've veered a bit over the white line?'

not me, no. I'm usually trying to keep my vision fixed on the road and not the 2000m drop. Whilst squeaking gently from my bottom.

posted by andyp [860 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 8:44

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I recall driving down the Alpe years ago and after bend 3 coming across a guy riding up on the wrong side of the road. I simply stopped and through the wind screen pointed to the correct side he should be on. Luckily he looked up before riding in to the front of the car and moved. By the look of the guy he was cooked and in la la land forgetting which side he should be on.

posted by usedtobefaster [90 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 9:30

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chiv30 wrote:
Turn 17...... That's a left hander (descending) and anyone who has descended the alpe on a bike will tell you .....99% of cyclists (myself included) take the left handers on the wrong side to clip the apex and maintain speed so as horrible as this is it could be and is more likely to be the cyclist at fault on this one unfortunately Sad

So likely to be the cyclists fault that their initial belief is that it was the driver at fault?

I can easily imagine that it is ridiculously easy to swing wide on a bend on Alpe D'Huez, or swing in tight when you are driving up or down it.

I know for a fact that it is ridiculously easy to swing wide on a bend on Alpe D'Huez, or swing in tight when you are cycling up or down it.

posted by farrell [1395 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 10:37

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Very sad. I've just come back from there which made it more poignant for me. The alpine descents are amazing but the speeds you can attain are quite scary. I do recall that at speed your ability to manoevre quickly isn't good and everything happens so much faster. On a bend you're braking hard before the turn, but once you're committed to a particular 'track' (in the turn) it's quite hard to change it. There are plenty of 'loony' drivers out there; usually a local in a high powered car who (in his opinion) knows the road well.

Shades

posted by Shades [195 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 12:07

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chiv30 wrote:
Turn 17...... That's a left hander (descending) and anyone who has descended the alpe on a bike will tell you .....99% of cyclists (myself included) take the left handers on the wrong side to clip the apex and maintain speed so as horrible as this is it could be and is more likely to be the cyclist at fault on this one unfortunately Sad

If it's a left hander coming down then cyclist would have been on correct side of road for France....

posted by allezrider [63 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 15:39

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allezrider wrote:
chiv30 wrote:
Turn 17...... That's a left hander (descending) and anyone who has descended the alpe on a bike will tell you .....99% of cyclists (myself included) take the left handers on the wrong side to clip the apex and maintain speed so as horrible as this is it could be and is more likely to be the cyclist at fault on this one unfortunately Sad

If it's a left hander coming down then cyclist would have been on correct side of road for France....

Not unless they're suddenly changed which side of the road they drive on.... (unless i'm missing some humour tag..)

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posted by fukawitribe [359 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 15:56

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Do they not drive on the right in France? If you are going round a left hand bend on the right hand side of the road that is the wide point so, unless he was taking to the left to clip the apex, cyclist would have been on the correct side of the road. Either that or I've completely lost my spacial awareness.... Nerd

posted by allezrider [63 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 17:23

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allezrider wrote:
Do they not drive on the right in France? If you are going round a left hand bend on the right hand side of the road that is the wide point so, unless he was taking to the left to clip the apex, cyclist would have been on the correct side of the road. Either that or I've completely lost my spacial awareness.... Nerd

Swinging in to clip the apex is precisely what was being discussed.

(edit - this was the start of the discussion)

allezrider wrote:
chiv30 wrote:
Turn 17...... That's a left hander (descending) and anyone who has descended the alpe on a bike will tell you .....99% of cyclists (myself included) take the left handers on the wrong side to clip the apex and maintain speed so as horrible as this is it could be and is more likely to be the cyclist at fault on this one unfortunately Sad

If it's a left hander coming down then cyclist would have been on correct side of road for France....

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posted by fukawitribe [359 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 18:08

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I cycle on French roads, mountains included, and I often find them on my side of the road on 'blind' bends. I do mean 'often'.

posted by efail [37 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 19:40

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Very sad news but every week i see cyclist taken too many risks on the ascent and descent of Alpe d'huez. The number of cyclist jumping the red lights (while they do repairs to the cliff) on the climb this week was beyond belief

Cycled up Alpe d'Huez at least once each month since July 2008

http://www.morethan21bends.com
http://www.prompt.cc

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posted by gbzpto [78 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 21:21

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Preliminary investigations suggest that the motorist involved took the bend too widely and was unable to avoid colliding with the cyclist.

Not sure how that sits with all the experts theorising hereabouts but there it is, up in the article. For my part, I find UK drivers awful compared to French. That's a boring stereotyping debate but mulling over how the article might be wrong about what happened in this sorry scene is a bleak way to pass the time.

posted by vbvb [231 posts]
4th July 2014 - 0:19

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allezrider wrote:
Do they not drive on the right in France? If you are going round a left hand bend on the right hand side of the road that is the wide point so, unless he was taking to the left to clip the apex, cyclist would have been on the correct side of the road. Either that or I've completely lost my spacial awareness.... Nerd

I did state that he was likely clipping the apex on the left hander as most people try to do to maintain speed down the alpe

posted by chiv30 [857 posts]
4th July 2014 - 6:40

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As exhilerating as fast descending is, as this news so terribly confirms, accidents however they transpire, can be fatal. Condolences to all.

After a few minor accidents, I often find myself now asking 'Am I willing to let an accident on this descent cause me to be off the bike for an extended period through injury?'. The answer is always 'no'. My approach to the descent then changes accordingly.

I am in no way inferring blame to anyone in this particular incident. We can take many precautions, but descending mountains on a bike will always carry some inherent danger.

posted by Hoester [52 posts]
4th July 2014 - 8:19

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Hoester wrote:
As exhilerating as fast descending is, as this news so terribly confirms, accidents however they transpire, can be fatal. Condolences to all.

After a few minor accidents, I often find myself now asking 'Am I willing to let an accident on this descent cause me to be off the bike for an extended period through injury?'. The answer is always 'no'. My approach to the descent then changes accordingly.

I am in no way inferring blame to anyone in this particular incident. We can take many precautions, but descending mountains on a bike will always carry some inherent danger.

Massive condolences to the deceased and their family, and I agree. As a result, I make a wuss descender, but that's not why I ride anyway. If the driver wasn't at fault, then my sympathies to them also, because those nightmares probably aren't going away anytime soon.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3083 posts]
4th July 2014 - 9:51

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Gotta love internet speculation!

I'm going to offer a controversial view: while I'm sure his family will be devastated, and my sympathy goes out to them, this isn't sad news. People die all the time: this chap got to take the exit door while doing something that (my speculation) he loved. Good on him.

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posted by adamthekiwi [43 posts]
4th July 2014 - 10:12

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adamthekiwi wrote:
Gotta love internet speculation!

I'm going to offer a controversial view: while I'm sure his family will be devastated, and my sympathy goes out to them, this isn't sad news. People die all the time: this chap got to take the exit door while doing something that (my speculation) he loved. Good on him.

Well, yes, other than the fact that he was killed by a twat in a car on the wrong side of the road. I would think the cyclist might be a bit fucked off by the circumstances, I know I would be.

You go to France to get away from the British c-unt drivers and guess what, one follows you all that way to to end your life.

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posted by Housecathst [48 posts]
4th July 2014 - 17:52

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Nice. Without knowing too many details I don't think we can call them a 'twat' or a 'c-unt'. And I'm sure they didn't 'follow him to end his life'. But, you crack on with your sensationalist nonsense.

posted by andyp [860 posts]
4th July 2014 - 18:31

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Yup, the limited details being that the driver was on the wrong side of the road.

Had I been on the receiving end of that, twat and c-unt would be fair way to describe the driver for me.

There was a degree of irony intended in the idea that the driver had followed him to France to inflict his bad driving on him.

"Sensationalist nonsense" is what the comments section on a internet site is for isn't it ?

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posted by Housecathst [48 posts]
4th July 2014 - 20:41

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farrell wrote:
chiv30 wrote:
Turn 17...... That's a left hander (descending) and anyone who has descended the alpe on a bike will tell you .....99% of cyclists (myself included) take the left handers on the wrong side to clip the apex and maintain speed so as horrible as this is it could be and is more likely to be the cyclist at fault on this one unfortunately Sad

So likely to be the cyclists fault that their initial belief is that it was the driver at fault?

I can easily imagine that it is ridiculously easy to swing wide on a bend on Alpe D'Huez, or swing in tight when you are driving up or down it.

I know for a fact that it is ridiculously easy to swing wide on a bend on Alpe D'Huez, or swing in tight when you are cycling up or down it.

If you know for a fact because you have ridden the alpe then you will also know for a fact that it's more likely to be the local drivers that drive up their like it's a racetrack and most UK drivers are taking there time through the bends because

1) they are tighter than any bend a uk driver is likely to have encountered
2) it's the wrong side of the road for us and therefore most UK drivers are taking it slower

posted by chiv30 [857 posts]
4th July 2014 - 21:31

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'"Sensationalist nonsense" is what the comments section on a internet site is for isn't it ? '

if you're a c-unt, probably, yes.

posted by andyp [860 posts]
4th July 2014 - 21:42

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andyp wrote:
'"Sensationalist nonsense" is what the comments section on a internet site is for isn't it ? '

if you're a c-unt, probably, yes.

Lol, ok, touche.

At least my c-untishness it restricted to a Internet forum, rather than out killing vulnerable road users.

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posted by Housecathst [48 posts]
5th July 2014 - 10:02

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