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Tributes paid to Steve Weaver as French police hunt driver

Steve Weaver, the former council chief executive responsible for Blackpool becoming a Cycling Town, has been killed in a hit-and-run crash while riding near his holiday home in Provence, France.

According to Bill Jacobs of the Lancashire TelegraphWeaver died after being hit by a small Ford car. The driver fled the scene on foot.

Commander Sébastien Roussignol, from the police in Malaucène, said: “The cyclist had gone out for a ride in the countryside.

“The driver of the car coming in the opposite direction lost control and hit the cyclist.

“He was hit by the car and left for dead.

“The driver escaped on foot. They have not yet been identified and we are searching for them.

“The helicopter was put up to help Mr Weaver and take him to hospital, but he was already in respiratory arrest.”

Police are searching for the driver, who is believed to have been coming from the hamlet of Veaux towards Malaucène when his vehicle hit Weaver on a bend.

Weaver, 64, was chief executive of Blackpool Council from 2002 to 2011 after 27 years working in Blackburn town hall.

He led the campaign for Blackpool to become a Cycling Town, a designation it achieved in 2009. That led to improvements in  Blackpool’s cycling infrastructure such as new routes and more bike parking, plus other initiatives including Blackpool’s own ‘Boris bike’ style hire scheme.

The Cycling Towns project came to an end when Cycling England was abolished in 2011, but the National Archives has a record of the Cycle Blackpool website

Tributes have been paid to Weaver, who was a widely-respected figure in Lancashire politics, by former home secretary Jack Straw and former council leader Sir Bill Taylor, among many others.

Straw said: “I have known Steve as a great friend for 35 years and [Weaver’s ex wife] Ann still sits next to me at Rovers. This is a tragedy.

“He was an amusing man with a good sense of humour and a very capable local government officer.”

Taylor said: “He was a great friend who loved France and was an incredibly keen cyclist.

“His daughter Ruth, who lives in Burnley, had a baby about six months ago. He was delighted.

“This is a tragedy.”

Labour party secretary and Roe Lee councillor Phil Riley said: “This was a hit and run. It’s appalling, awful.

“He was a good friend and keen cyclist. In a few months he was planning a cross-America bike ride.”

Weaver is survived by his ex-wife Ann; daughter Ruth, who has two children; son Christopher, who is a Labour councillor in Cardiff; and son Ben, an opera singer in Nuremberg, Germany.

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.