Cyclist tells of “guilt” after Richmond Park crash that claimed rider’s life last weekend

Rene Taylor says he came down on same corner last month but didn’t report concerns over gravel

by Simon_MacMichael   August 30, 2014  

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

A London cyclist has spoken of his “guilt” at not reporting the presence of gravel on a corner in Richmond Park where he came off his bike last month, and where another rider died after a similar crash last weekend.

A 40-year-old man died in the Royal London Hospital after being taken there by air ambulance following a crash in the park last week, when he is believed to have lost control on his bike after skidding on the gravel while descending. He has not yet been officially named.

No other cyclists or vehicles were involved in the incident, but another cyclist, 40-year-old Rene Taylor from Raynes Park, has now come forward to speak of a similar crash he was involved in five weeks ago, reports the Richmond & Twickenham Times.

He told the newspaper: "I was going to meet someone at the Richmond Gate and I went down and everything was fine and at the bottom where it bends, there is gravel which meant I wouldn’t be able to brake.

"I landed on the grass verge and the bike went behind me. Fortunately I was OK but I have been racked with guilt thinking I should have reported the gravel.

"That is the steepest hill in Richmond Park and as the bend goes round, you do pick up speed.

"I just think the roads could do with being cleared up a bit and the gravel taken away."

Tim Lennon from the Richmond Cycling Campaign said that the Royal Parks, which manages Richmond Park, a popular destination for cyclists, needed to examine the road surface in places where people ride. 

He said the group was "deeply saddened to hear of the death of a cyclist in Richmond Park and our thoughts are with the victim's family.

"We do regularly hear about incidents in Richmond Park, whether involving cars, bicycles, or pedestrians, and we're keen to work with the Royal Parks to understand the circumstances, and whether this has lessons to be learned for how we all use the park and its facilities,” he went on.

"In particular, it may be that the Royal Parks need to look at the state of the road surface at the edge, where more cyclists tend to be," he added.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Parks commented: "At the moment this is still a police matter so we have nothing further to add."

11 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

He shouldn't feel any guilt, many people would have cycled down that road and known of the danger. I know I have seen a pot hole and not reported it.
But it should be a lesson to us all, see a defect or hazzard on the road report it. I have removed bricks and the like before and reported several road faults.

posted by Mart [103 posts]
30th August 2014 - 10:17

10 Likes

Eurgh, get the fellow some councilling for survivors' guilt. Doesn't help anyone mate, really.

posted by nuclear coffee [164 posts]
30th August 2014 - 12:09

5 Likes

People come off every day - we all know the risks. No guilt required.

If any guilt is due it's for whoever is responsible for maintaining the road surface.

posted by vanmildert [50 posts]
30th August 2014 - 18:56

3 Likes

He really should not feel bad. There has been gravel on that corner for many years and Royal Parks would, I hope, be aware. I have never come down there in many years without there being a strip of gravel on the outside of the bend. I have one friend who broke his collarbone there, despite knowing the road very well, this year.

That said, Royal Parks (or whoever is relevant) should consider if they are doing enough to maintain a safe road surface for ALL users.

posted by brackley88 [76 posts]
30th August 2014 - 21:41

23 Likes

Dear Royal Parks, get someone down there with a broom and shovel. It's not rocket science. A days work? Community Service people? This isn't an expensive job. And sadly someones lost there life over it.

posted by Abbie [40 posts]
30th August 2014 - 22:36

3 Likes

It's a really sad case, and I can understand feeling bad about it for this particular person. But is it realistic to think that gravel on every corner of every bit of road should be expected to be removed? I think that's unrealistic and we should take it as an inherent hazard of cycling. That's my personal view, anyway.

posted by edster99 [187 posts]
30th August 2014 - 23:22

5 Likes

Abbie wrote:
Dear Royal Parks, get someone down there with a broom and shovel. It's not rocket science. A days work? Community Service people? This isn't an expensive job. And sadly someones lost there life over it.

It's 'their' life you numpty. Understanding the difference between there, their and they're isn't 'rocket science' either.

posted by Joeinpoole [274 posts]
31st August 2014 - 0:02

14 Likes

What is all this negative energy being directed at the Royal Parks for? I cycle down that hill every working day and have done for the past 2 and a half years. a) there is no gravel problem and b) there is no road surface problem - anywhere in the park. Can we not direct our negative energy at more suitable targets?! Our freedom to use the park at all times (except during the deer cull), to ride in large packs and to have cars limited to 20mph is something we should be grateful for. Talk about biting the and that feeds you!

posted by mpdouglas [12 posts]
31st August 2014 - 4:24

13 Likes

Joeinpoole wrote:
Abbie wrote:
Dear Royal Parks, get someone down there with a broom and shovel. It's not rocket science. A days work? Community Service people? This isn't an expensive job. And sadly someones lost there life over it.

It's 'their' life you numpty. Understanding the difference between there, their and they're isn't 'rocket science' either.

Are you actually correcting someone's grammar on a thread about a fatality?

Just... wow.

posted by jacknorell [456 posts]
31st August 2014 - 11:17

8 Likes

first of all I'll say +1to "are you actually correcting someone's grammar on a thread about a fatality"

now I'm not a sign enthusiast - used to live on the edge of the Peak District National Park and always put "take down signs" on the feedback but sometimes signs can be helpful and in the more urban setting don't add clutter
- live in Aus' and one of the local council here uses these signs

when the cycle path switches from paved to gravel - Its a bit like "retain the packaging" but I guess for riders that aren't used to gravel it does try to say think about it

I'm not familiar with Richmond Park but if the gravel is collecting on the bends on a tarmac road then regular sweeping should be carried out. (full stop)

condolences

posted by antigee [165 posts]
31st August 2014 - 12:48

8 Likes

edster99 wrote:
It's a really sad case, and I can understand feeling bad about it for this particular person. But is it realistic to think that gravel on every corner of every bit of road should be expected to be removed? I think that's unrealistic and we should take it as an inherent hazard of cycling. That's my personal view, anyway.

THIS.

I understand the obligation councils and landowners have to keep public road surfaces 'in good repair'. That said, every single time it rains here in our small corner of Hampshire another ton or so of fine gravel, flint and mud is washed onto the roads. There is simply no way on earth councils can hope to remove it.

I organised a sportive in May and Basingstoke Council offered to sweep a notorious stretch of country lane for us. The following week it was back to a skittery mess. Ironically the roads with the most & heaviest traffic are the cleanest, but we don't want to ride on them, do we?

Autumn's here, and about a Bajillion tons of slippery, dark-coloured leaves are about to descend on our roads - particularly the ones through leafy parks.

Edster99 is spot on - slippery surfaces are a fact of life, all we can do is anticipate and ride accordingly. If losing traction on the public highway is going to put you under a bus, over a median barrier or cliff edge or through an intersection then FFS *slow down*. Save the racing for the immaculately-swept, car/cliff/intersection-free crit circuit. Not that I'm saying the deceased was 'racing'. Not at all. You get my point.

* disclaimer: I probably rely too much on tyre robustness / absence of diesel, in search of the thrill. Note to self: you have kids. Slow down.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [529 posts]
31st August 2014 - 23:35

2 Likes