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Safety features on way for North Yorks bridge where two cyclists died

Riders both plunged to death after hitting parapet in separate incidents

A coroner has urged that a safety barrier planned for a bridge in North Yorkshire where two cyclists have been killed in the past two years be put in place by next spring.

Dr George Ballard, 41, a consultant cardiologist from Ben Rhydding, died from multiple injuries in August this year, reports the Telegraph and Argus.

He had struck the nearside of Dibbles Bridge near Hebden in August this year as he descended a steep hill on the road towards Grassington.

He was thrown over the parapet and into a 40-foot ravine, his death coming a year after that James Nelson, 32, from Skipton, who was killed in similar circumstances.

Dr Ballard, a father of two, had been riding with five friends. One of them, Dr Nick Hayward, said he had warned him of the descent and the bend at the bottom.

Describing how his friend overtook him on the descent, he said: "I was slightly concerned. I remember him coming passed and thinking is he going to slow down?

"He seemed to do so - his bike seemed to be slowing towards me and then I saw his back wheel lock and I thought he would go down but he held the slide.

"I thought 'wow, he's done it'. Then I saw him hit the wall. 

"The bike careered along the parapet and the next thing I saw his feet going over the bridge."

Dr Ballard died despite the efforts of Dr Hayward and a nurse living nearby to give him first aid.

North Yorkshire County Council confirmed that it would be fitting an interlocking rail and barrier on the left-hand parapet to prevent similar tragedies.

Coroner Rob Turnbull recorded that Dr Ballard's death was due to multiple injuries caused by an accident. 

He added that he wanted to see the safety feature introduced by next spring, ahead of cyclists returning in large numbers to the Yorkshire Dales.

Last December, Mr Turnbull presided over the inquest into Mr Nelson's death which happened in August 2014.

The Skipton Cycling Club member had been descending the same hill, which has a gradient of 16 degrees, and was also thrown over the parapet and onto the dry river bed, with his body not discovered until the following morning.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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