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10 years on: Wife of cyclist killed in Rhyl tragedy reflects on his legacy

Meanwhile campaigner says councils still failing cyclists on safety

The widow of one of the four cyclists killed 10 years ago today when a car skidded on ice and crashed into a group of riders from Rhyl Cycling Club, says her husband would have been proud to have seen his dream of a cycle track being built in the Welsh town fulfilled. But a cycling campaigner says local authorities in North Wales are still failing bike riders when it comes to safety.

Maurice Broadbent, the club’s chairman awho rode for Great Britain in the world cyclo-cross championships in 1967, lost his life in the tragedy on Sunday 8 January 2006. He was aged 61. The three other cyclists who died were with Thomas Harland, aged 14, Dave Horrocks, 55, and Wayne Wilkes, 42.

Reflecting on his legacy, Mr Broadbent’s wife Sue told the Daily Post: “People did things that Maurice was dedicated to. They rallied round and took over Maurice’s road race.

“And there’s a lot of good schemes now like the Marsh Tracks in Rhyl which has an off-road, training circuit. They’ve not only taken on cyclists using racing bikes but BMX bikes, I believe, too.

“The track was something he really wanted. The nearest one had been in Preston. My husband used to go to it in Preston but he said ‘Why not have one here too?’”

But she added:  “The biggest regret I’ve got was he never saw his granddaughter Ellie, who is 20 months old now. He would have been absolutely besotted.”

An inquest in 2007 heard that Conwy’s head of highways had sent out gritting lorries the night before the fatal crash. However, the road where it took place, the A547 Rhuddlan Road, was not scheduled to be gritted in the morning.

Conditions worsened overnight, and Adrian Runacres, an expert witness from the Transport Research Laboratory highlighted concerns over the absence of communication about those.

But he said that even if gritters had been deployed once it was known that the road had become icy, he did not believe it would have averted the tragedy.

“I remain of the opinion that the decisions taken by early Saturday afternoon were reasonable,” he wrote in his report.

In April 2013 – more than seven years after the crash – the motorist involved, Robert Alan Harris, was fined £180 and had his driving licence endorsed with six penalty points on his licence due to three of his tyres being defective on the day in question.

Roy Spilsbury from national cycling charity CTC Cymru said that in the years since 2006, some positive steps had been taken for cyclists in North Wales, highlighting “upbeat developments assisting cycling” such as “the Marsh Road Tracks and Pont y Ddraigh in Rhyl [and] the Conwy Morfa bypass of the A55, to mention but a few."

 “But at the same time lessons have not been learnt of the dangers faced by cyclists, both on-road and off-road,” he went on.

He said that “a discriminatory culture against cycling flourishes within local government, failing to acknowledge the dangers cyclists unnecessarily face, often through the actions of government departments themselves, and through no fault of cyclists.

“Unless local government faces the shortcomings within its own ranks, in terms of training and culture, there is scant prospect of those in the community with the skills and experience of cycling having the resources to play a part.

“In this respect, nothing will have changed in 10 years,” he added.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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