A fatal accident inquiry in to the death of top Scottish time trialliist Jason MacIntyre
has found that the driver of the van that hit him was entirely to blame for the collision.
However in comments that may perturb some cyclists Sheriff Douglas Small who conducted the inquiry also recommended that all cyclists should wear helmets and high viz clothing when on public roads – even though he admitted that neither would have saved Jason MacIntyre who was not wearing a helmet at the time of his death.
"Although Jason's death could not have been avoided by him wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, all cyclists, including those in training, should wear a helmet when on public roads," the sheriff said in his findings.
However Sheriff Small apportioned no blame to Mr MacIntyre's clothing in deciding who was at fault. Highland Council had argued that death was a "tragic accident" that might have been avoided had Jason MacIntyre been wearing high visibility clothing.
"I am of the opinion that no cause, apart from the failure on the part of Mr MacTaggart to see Mr MacIntyre, can be identified.
"I am satisfied that Mr MacTaggart's failure arose as a consequence of him not keeping a proper look-out of the road ahead of him when he turned across Mr MacIntyre's path," he said.
In a statement responding to the findings of the inquiry Jason's widow, Caroline said:
“No helmet in the world would have saved Jason, and I believe he was perfectly visible, and McTaggart would not have seen him, whatever he was wearing.”
“I am really pleased that the Sheriff took on board our arguments that there should be a traffic island on the mouth of the junction to stop drivers cutting the corner at the spot where Jason died.”
Jason MacIntyre's death not only deprived Caroline of a husband, but their twin daughters of a father - they were eight years old at the time of his death, Caroline MacIntyre said that is was for their sakes that she had pressed for this inquiry.
“I wanted to be able to face my daughters when they grow up and tell them hand on heart that I left no stone unturned in finding out how their daddy died, and I feel I have done that.
“I am really glad I fought so hard for this Inquiry even though I have to accept that I lost a wonderful husband and a loving father just because of another driver’s complete carelessness and lack of concentration.”
Caroline MacIntyre will now carry on her legal fight against Highland Council and Mr McTaggart at the Court of Session in Edinburgh where she is seeking £500,000 in compensation.
Jason MacIntyre was killed in January 2008 towards the end of a training ride on the outskirts of Fort William when a Highlands Council Van driven by Robert McTaggart turned in to him. McTaggart was subsequently fined £500 and banned from driving for six months after pleading guilty of a charge of careless driving.
Commenting on the Sherrif's remarks regarding helemets CTC Campaigns Coordinator Debra Rolfe said:
“Despite the Sheriff’s acknowledgement that a helmet would not have made any difference in saving Jason McIntyre’s life, he still mentioned that cyclists should wear helmets and hi-viz. CTC is dismayed that the Sheriff’s comments appeared to accuse Jason of playing some part in his death. The only danger in this case came not from what Jason was or was not wearing, but from a driver who pleaded guilty to careless driving. CTC campaigns for the judicial system to take bad driving seriously to make our roads safer for everyone. In order to get a better understanding of what happens to drivers who are involved in crashes with cyclists, CTC is collating data about bad driving for the Stop SMIDSY campaign. We urge every cyclist to take part. You can find out more at www.stop-smidsy.org.uk.”
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.