Cyclist killed while riding in time trial near Hull

Rider dies after collision with caravan towed by 4x4 during City Road Club (Hull) Open 10 mile today

by Simon_MacMichael   March 29, 2013  

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

For the second time this month, tragedy has struck a cycle race in Britain through the death of a rider, with a competitor killed this morning following a collision with a caravan towed by a 4x4 during the City Road Club (Hull) Open 10 mile time trial. The victim has not yet been officially named.

The Hull Daily Mail has reported that according to police, the fatal incident took place at around 10.30am on the dual carriageway A63 near Brough, with City Road Club confirming to the newspaper that the rider killed was one of the 150 participants.

Racing was abandoned following the incident, and the road was closed between Welton Road at Brough and the A1034 at South Cave while emergency services, including police collision investigators, attended the scene.

Today's fatality comes less than four weeks after 23-year-old Herbalife Leisure Lakes rider Junior Heffernan was killed during the Severn Bridge Road Race after colliding with a vehicle on a descent.

In recent years several cyclists have been killed while taking part in time trials on dual carriageways, including Karl Austin, hit from behind by a lorry on the A50 in Derbyshire in June 2011, Cathy Ward of Solihull Road Club, struck by a car on the A46 near Stratford-upon-Avon in August 2010, and Major Gareth Rhys Evans, who was hit by a car on the A1 near St Neots, Cambridgeshire, in May 2009.

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What is this talk of cycling organisations being at fault? and the use of dual carriageways? The only thing that matters is :: This person has lost his life; it's a tragedy, an accident that should not have happened.

With the increase of cyclists on our roads, there should be far more public awareness to the dangers faced when cycling. The press and media should increase their coverage of road safety issues; this would surely help to inform other road users of the dangers we face when cycling.

posted by Mostyn [412 posts]
30th March 2013 - 12:25

8 Likes

first and foremost, condolences to Chris Auker, family, friends and Brough Wheelers.

i've ridden the above course. i've organised an event on a dual carriageway before which had to be cancelled because of a major incident that left several people in hospital.

the statement above regarding space for overtaking becomes problematic when there are two cars side by side, or one already overtaking, usually at 70mph+. there isn't really enough room for the car on the inside to move out to overtake the cyclist doing 25mph. the margin for error is slim and there isn't a hard shoulder.

which of course might have nothing to do with Chris' tragic death, but do contribute towards the higher risk of riding on this particular road. and it's specious to ignore the wider debate; at some point the TT/DC debate has to be bought into the open rather than leaving it currently until the police attempt to expressly forbid use of DC courses to protect riders (ie Norfolk police A1).

whilst there isn't a stock argument, i.e DCs are unsafe, single carriageways safer, it's quite chilling that nearly all of the deaths and serious injuries in time trialling over the past decade appear to have been on DCs, including Alec Anderson, Len Grayson, as well as the names above and Jane Kilmartin's life-threatening injuries.

At some point the arguments just no longer stack up, and it isn't about free will or being unnecessarily risk-averse. it's to do with the fact that you are statistically more likely to die when riding on a dual carriageway. as traffic counts increase and at the same time driving habits and the lack of awareness (or a safer driving culture) from drivers towards cyclists shows no sign of changing for the better - see rob jeffries - then the idea that somehow DCs are safe(r) becomes more and more self-serving to those who want to ride them in search of a fast time. (and it's about the fast time, nothing else; the sport valorises times over placings or points, this is its strength and appeal, and also its inherent weakness).

somewhere along the line the TT community has become sucked into a debate about riding DCs, and quite an assertive one about 'rights to the roads' and so on, that doesn't seem to take into account the stark reality of road and cultural conditions within the UK and the very real danger of death. it's a self-defeating argument.

i no longer organise events on dual carriageways - main arterial trunk roads - and i very rarely race on them, with the heads of the valleys road in wales being the exception because it's one of the quietest roads i've ridden, regardless of DC/SC status.

posted by pj [146 posts]
30th March 2013 - 12:37

5 Likes

As far as I can remember the onus is on the person overtaking to do so in a safe manner that will not affect the safety of what they are overtaking be it a horse, cyclist or honking great tractor (Highway Code 162-163). What road it is on and what the cyclist was doing are irrelevant.

My condolences to the friends and family.

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [484 posts]
30th March 2013 - 13:29

7 Likes

you can quote law and highway code all you want, the idea of cycling on a dual carriageway terrifies me. Even urban 30mph ones are bad enough (just in from a trip to the shops along one, where I was hooted at by a car whilst cycling in a bus lane)- there's too many ignorant, unobservant and downright aggressive drivers, and at 70mph when they really don't have any expectation of seeing cyclists the idea of mixing with them, especially if you're doing a form of cycling where you're pushing yourself to your physical limits and are as a result probably a little less aware of your surroundings, just seems daft.

I appreciate the money isn't there- but I'd gladly see all motorway-esque dual carriageways upgraded to motorways.

posted by Al__S [777 posts]
30th March 2013 - 13:42

6 Likes

There are a number of good points raised here.

But on a DC, how many drivers are expecting to see a cyclist?

Another problem that will come about with a TT, if you have a TT bike, your head is down, looking straight in front, not like a normal cyclist who will be observing everything around them for danger.

If you have your head down, going for a fast time, you are paying no attention to the traffic behind you, only what's in front. That IS dangerous, no matter what anyone says. If you are not fully aware of everything going on around you, you shouldn't be cycling on a road in the first place.

I am in NO WAY blaming the rider here, Its a tragic accident, but its an avoidable one all the same.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9201 posts]
30th March 2013 - 16:31

6 Likes

I'm sure for most of us on here cycling (and TT) remains a voluntary passtime, not a job. I honestly can't see myself leaving the house on a sunday morning kissing the kids and wife goodbye, with a big smile saying 'just off to do some fun TTing on the double carriageway'. With any luck, I'll be back for lunch.

Seriously, I'd like to enjoy my cycling for many years to come and if that means I have to adjust routes/activities then that is what I will do. Not interested in my rights to cycle on DCs or other problematic routes; I'd rather get my HR up because I'm pushing harder on the pedals.

A tragic accident, but in my view avoidable.

posted by Metjas [334 posts]
30th March 2013 - 16:42

6 Likes

All I'd like to add to this debate is that we should stop referring to it as an accident - the police now, quite rightly IMHO, call them incidents as does the article above.

Someone is at fault for this and it is not the organiser and unlikely to have been the cyclist either.

posted by mustard [72 posts]
30th March 2013 - 17:35

7 Likes

Very sad.

It's too easy to criticise when you don't know the facts - both those specific to the incident and those concerning safety when organising events on the roads. For instance, DCs are not by definition more dangerous for cyclists than single carriageway roads. Do you really think organisers want to play roulette with riders' lives?

We should be asking how to make the roads safer, not telling people where they can't ride. 122 cyclists died in 2012, every life lost is a tragedy whatever the circumstances.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2219 posts]
30th March 2013 - 18:20

7 Likes

'But on a DC, how many drivers are expecting to see a cyclist?

Another problem that will come about with a TT, if you have a TT bike, your head is down, looking straight in front, not like a normal cyclist who will be observing everything around them for danger.

If you have your head down, going for a fast time, you are paying no attention to the traffic behind you, only what's in front. That IS dangerous, no matter what anyone says. If you are not fully aware of everything going on around you, you shouldn't be cycling on a road in the first place.
'

To be fair, an awful lot of this is unmitigated toss.

posted by andyp [1310 posts]
30th March 2013 - 18:27

3 Likes

Thanks for that very useful input andyp. Sleepy

I was not referring to this specific incident, just in general. TT bikes, you are NOT breaking your aero position to look around you.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9201 posts]
30th March 2013 - 18:36

7 Likes

This is where ears come in handy. And I can't think of many riders who have their 'head down' on a TT.

posted by andyp [1310 posts]
30th March 2013 - 18:38

8 Likes

head down riding is a qualifying event for the darwin awards.

i wonder what the tipping point is for people to view DCs as not especially safe to ride on, because it doesn't appear to be 'a higher than average statistical likelihood that you will die whilst time trialling compared to a single carriageway road'.

and what's with the 'i'll race on a dual carriageway but there's no way i'd ever train on one' approach?

posted by pj [146 posts]
30th March 2013 - 18:39

9 Likes

I lived in Brough for 6 years. Know it well. Our local dual carriageway has jut been made 60mph from 70mph after 18 deaths since 1999. Some local councillors wanted 50mph but were over ridden by the usual BS about speed being part of national productivity.

Hopefully when all residential roads are 20mph then dual carriageways can become 50mph. There is no doubt it would save lives.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1118 posts]
30th March 2013 - 19:19

6 Likes

Horrible news.

I don't know what the statistics are and whether DCs really do have a higher incident rate. I do know that as a car driver (as well as cyclist) when I'm on a DC, motorway or other main trunk road, my mentality is more about the destination and how far away it might be, than when I'm on a local road doing a relatively short trip.

I suspect I'm not the only driver who is in a "need to get there" frame of mind, which could mean that drivers on DC's are less conscious of hedges/horses/weather/cyclists than motorists on short trips.

And let's bear in mind that a lot of vehicles on DC's are 40t HGVs (no spare lane width) and a lot are doing more like 80 or 90mph than 70mph

I did one year of TT's, including a few 7am dual carriageway rides, and packed it in, partly because of my perception of the risks.

posted by Ralph S [2 posts]
30th March 2013 - 20:27

6 Likes

pj wrote:
i wonder what the tipping point is for people to view DCs as not especially safe to ride on

personally I don't enjoy my ride if all the cars passing me, sometimes within a foot or so, are doing 60, 70 or 80 mph - it's just very unsettling, not something I would actively seek out.

posted by Metjas [334 posts]
30th March 2013 - 21:36

7 Likes

I would like to see events where riders are so exposed brought to an end. Maybe clubs could join forces, rationalising the number of TT's promoted on a regional basis, and in return negotiate with the appropriate authorities to put on larger events with road closures.

posted by jarderich [91 posts]
30th March 2013 - 21:49

7 Likes

I hate the way these incidents are worded. "a collision with"? Seems very unlikely. Why is the victim portrayed as the agent of the incident?

posted by paulfg42 [386 posts]
30th March 2013 - 21:52

7 Likes

Terrible news. While I have no idea as to whether DCs are actually more statistically dangerous there just seems no reason to be riding on them other than chasing meaningless artificially inflated (deflated ?!) times. I marshalled a BUCS tt and the number of relative beginners riding on a busy DC was terrifying. None of them seemed to be enjoying themselves. In general I think the obsession with racing on roads no one would consider training on puts a lot of people off, myself included. Why can't tts be run on more interesting, quiter roads? After all the precise time is meaningless, just how you compare to others and how much fun it is shoukd matter.

posted by MattT53 [141 posts]
30th March 2013 - 22:18

7 Likes

It's not the traffic on the dual carriageway that's dangerous. Most fatalities happen when cars enter the dual carriageway from a slip road, going too fast and not looking.

Ajax's picture

posted by Ajax [4 posts]
30th March 2013 - 22:54

6 Likes

Gkam84 wrote:
Thanks for that very useful input andyp. Sleepy

I was not referring to this specific incident, just in general. TT bikes, you are NOT breaking your aero position to look around you.

Its the passing vehicle's responsibility to pass safely, head up or down is not going to change that. Do you drive a car constantly looking in you mirrors to make sure the cars behind you are not going to drive into you?

posted by Nzlucas [119 posts]
31st March 2013 - 2:34

3 Likes

MattT53 wrote:
Why can't tts be run on more interesting, quiter roads? After all the precise time is meaningless, just how you compare to others and how much fun it is shoukd matter.

this does happen quite a lot and there are several points-based series on scenic roads. the WTTA hardrider series is the best example i can think of.

http://www.wtta-hardriders.org.uk/

posted by pj [146 posts]
31st March 2013 - 8:24

5 Likes

unless you've pinned a number on your back keep your comments to yourself!!

posted by racingrobbo [1 posts]
31st March 2013 - 8:27

6 Likes

paulfg42 wrote:
I hate the way these incidents are worded. "a collision with"? Seems very unlikely. Why is the victim portrayed as the agent of the incident?

"A collision with" is neutral and doesn't imply fault on either party. It's really all we can say prior to facts of an incident becoming known, which is why we use it.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8989 posts]
31st March 2013 - 9:43

5 Likes

As a general observation, I think that many motorists do not realise how fast a cyclist can travel and cut in too soon after overtaking (especially when towing a trailer) in the believe that the 'obstacle' has been cleared.

Crosshouses's picture

posted by Crosshouses [244 posts]
31st March 2013 - 19:59

5 Likes

On an Open TT, all of the motorists should be expecting to see many cyclists, as signs are put out at all junctions & marshalling points. These signs are quite large, flourescent things that state "Caution Cycle Race in progress", the attentive motorist will then see individual cyclists at approx 1/4 - 1/3 mile gaps for about 5 miles or so.
Condolences to the riders family, friends & any witnesses to the accident.
The report stating that he was hit by the caravan says a great deal...
As for TTing on DC's, it really makes very little difference to SC's, when a motorist is behind us we are just in the way.

Currently going slower than I'd like...

posted by stealth [236 posts]
1st April 2013 - 8:15

5 Likes

Indeed tragic. Thoughts go out to everyone affected.

Now is not the time to start apportioning "blame", "blame" does nothing to bring back lives lost or undo hurt, and loss..

I do feel though that now is another time to point out that there are no "dangerous roads", it's the people that use them that create the danger.

There will be those who will call for cyclists to be kept off 'fast' DCs - and they will be many no doubt, how long before they get their wish?

..And then how long before they want us off all 'trunk' roads?

.. in fact in cities too. All these deaths involving lorries. Any road in fact. Cycles are not compatible with motorised traffic. The only place for bikes is Sustrans paths and 'traffic free' routes. Drive to the start with bike on car, off-load and ride.

No. Lets push to remove the danger. Not the bikes.

posted by AnalogueAndy [30 posts]
1st April 2013 - 11:30

5 Likes

racingrobbo wrote:
unless you've pinned a number on your back keep your comments to yourself!!

Am tempted to +1 one to this but there's more to it than that.

Having now organised an event as well as participating for a few years then I do find that the least helpful comments come from those who haven't done it. Put simply: if you don't want to expose yourself to the risk then don't do it. Time triallists know the risk they take riding on the road as well as anyone.

I wouldn't ever try skydiving, ice/winter climbing, MTB downhill racing or paragliding and see those things as far more dangerous than a time trial. But equally I don't wish to see any of them banned and wouldn't show my ignorance by mouthing off on a mountaineering/outdoor forum that people shouldn't be allowed to climb up mountains in winter.

The discussion about safety of all UK time trial courses and events should not revolve solely around a single fatality. Yes it's desperately sad and each time those in the sport feel something of the loss. We all want to make time trialling as safe as possible, but it's not just as simple as "tell them to stop racing on DCs". I don't understand why you think you can influence a sport about which you know almost nothing.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2219 posts]
1st April 2013 - 13:03

5 Likes

Prison stint for the driver - simple. He killed someone surely that must be breaking some law or other??

posted by ConradCyclo [6 posts]
1st April 2013 - 13:48

5 Likes

Before we all jump to conclusions that there was a driver at fault (and i know thats the most likely possibility), what if the rider rode into the back of a stationary vehicle......

theres a lot of fact to be ascertained before we can all judge

posted by scrapper [65 posts]
1st April 2013 - 15:48

5 Likes

racingrobbo wrote:
unless you've pinned a number on your back keep your comments to yourself!!

Not sure a) who this is aimed at (I've ridden a fair few tt's though admittedly not many on DCs, as I seem to have a direct neural pathway linking 70 mph trucks to brown bibs)
b) why that has a huge bearing; if you have no direct experience of something you're not entitled to an opinion?

posted by MattT53 [141 posts]
1st April 2013 - 17:00

5 Likes