A coroner presiding over the case of a cyclist who died of serious head injuries sustained after he was struck by three cars, one of them travelling at 40 miles per hour, has suggested that wearing a cycle helmet might have increased the accident victim’s chances of survival and has urged other cyclists to sport one.
Berkshire coroner Peter Bedford, sitting at Windsor Guildhall, recorded a verdict of accidental death in the case of William Honour, aged 79 from Bracknell, Berkshire, who died in Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital the day after the accident on the A322 on a Saturday morning in October last year.
The exact circumstances of the incident, reported by the Get Bracknell website, appear unclear, with the driver of the first vehicle involved, a Ford Focus, unaware that Mr Honour had been riding in the vicinity until after the vehicle and the cyclist apparently collided.
The car’s driver, Michael Bull, said: “I looked in my mirror after I heard a bang on the nearside door. Someone appeared to be falling over. I didn’t see a bike, I thought he was a pedestrian. I did feel I was driving as carefully as I could.”
Mr Honour was then struck by an Alfa Romeo being driven by Rachel Marriott, who told the inquest: “When I saw him he was upright cycling and there was no cause for concern.
“I noticed mist on my window and I went to put my right hand up and as my hand made contact with the windscreen my bonnet was level with the cyclist and I saw the cyclist wobble which made me react. I swerved right and didn’t even check my blind spot so I’m glad there was nothing on my right side.
“I knew he was falling so I had to get out of the way,” she added.
The inquest was told that the Alfa Romeo’s nearside wing mirror had been dislodged from its normal position.
The driver of the third vehicle involved, Citroen C1, explained that she had been driving at approximately 40 miles per hour and had left two car spaces between her vehicle and the Alfa Romeo ahead of her.
According to the Highway Code, the typical stopping distance at that speed is nine car lengths.
The Citroen’s driver, Catherine Nicker, said: “I first saw the cyclist coming out to the side of the car in front.
“He came out and already started to fall, he was astride his bike on the floor. I was in shock, it all happened so quickly.
“Maybe if I had left more space between me and the car in front, but I thought I had left enough room. Apart from that there’s nothing I could do.”
The inquest also heard a statement read out from Deborah Hall, who earlier that day had seen Mr Honour on the road where the fatal accident took place and who said: “He appeared very wobbly similar to a child first learning how to ride a bike.”
The coroner said that a damp road surface may have been a contributory factor to the accident and added: “Perhaps all of us can learn something from this tragic event. I do feel wearing a helmet would have increased Mr Honour’s chances of survival.
“We are all very quick to put helmets on our children but we are all vulnerable.
“Whether it would have changed the outcome I cannot say,” he concluded.
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.