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Speeding driver won't face prosecution over cyclist's death due to lack of speed limit sign

Cyril Harrison sustained fatal injuries after collision in Norwich on road coroner says presents a "significant risk" to cyclists...

A speeding driver who killed a cyclist in Norwich will not be prosecuted because the road the fatal crash took place on did not display the correct signage notifying drivers of the speed limit, reports the Eastern Daily Press.

An inquest last week at Norfolk Coroner’s Court also heard that lack of enforcement regarding people parking cars on the road where Cyril Harrison sustained fatal injuries created a danger to cyclists, because they force other motorists into the contraflow cycle lane.

According to evidence given by a police officer, that was not a factor in this case, with CCTV footage showing that Mr Harrison was riding outside the cycle lane when he was involved in a head-on collision with a Ford Fiesta driven by Craig Hawkes.

The victim died in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, on 25 January 2016. He had been taken there after the collision on Newmarket Road, Norwich, two and a half months earlier on 9 November 2015.

The cause of death was given as respiratory failure, with the 67-year-old also sustaining spinal and chest injuries.

The motorist did not respond when evidence was presented to the inquest that suggested he was driving at 45mph in a 30mph zone.

He told the court: “I saw a light in the distance and assumed it was a cyclist,” he said. “I could see his head was down towards the ground as if he was looking at his feet.

“I had no chance to avoid him. I hit the brake hard and he hit the front of my vehicle and went up over the bonnet.”

Safety concerns regarding the stretch of road concerned had been raised in a survey of the site and will be addressed under Norwich’s Cycle City Ambition project, police collision investigator PC Paul McKay told the court.

He also said that had the motorist been travelling at 30mph, or if Mr Harrison had been riding within the cycle lane, the collision may not have happened.

“The contraflow system precludes any vehicle from travelling in the cycle lane, but with there being no enforcement for parking - any vehicle that did would force other vehicles into the cycle lane,” he said.

“By saying it is a mandatory cycle lane we are forcing people to do something they should not be doing.

“A speed repeater sign was missing which presents issues in terms of any prosecution for speed. If the signage is incorrect it is a legal defence to the offence of speeding.”

He added: “Had Mr Hawkes been travelling at 30 when he began to react it is possible the injuries would not have been so severe or the collision might have been avoided.

“Had Mr Harrison remained in the cycle lane it is likely the collision would not have occurred.”

The fatal crash was witnessed by former police officer Steven Jones, who retired just a fortnight later.

“The first thing I noticed was a white light which flew through the air,” he said.

“What caught my attention was a light going from the sky down to the ground. It was followed by something in fluorescent clothing.

“I thought somebody had thrown a Guy Fawkes into the road - it was surreal.”

Mr Jones added: “The cycle helmet had actively cut off his air supply so I removed the helmet and started chest compressions.

“In the space of minutes somebody identified herself as a doctor and together we kept him stable until paramedics arrived.”

Coroner Yvonne Blake said she would contact Norfolk County Council to request details of works planned for the road where Mr Harrison was killed, which she concluded presents a “significant risk” to cyclists.

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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