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Corner's inquest in Lincolnshire told it is "likely" victim was wearing earphones...

A coroner has returned a verdict of accidental death in the case of a cyclist who apparently rode without warning into the path of a car that was overtaking him as he attempted to perform a right turn on a road in Lincolnshire. A police officer told the inquest it was "likely" the victim was wearing earphones.

Andrew Watson, aged 41, died in Scunthorpe General Hospital hours after the collision, which took place near Wroot at 7.30pm on the evening of 10 September last year, reports the Scunthorpe Telegraph.

Adam Coggon, the driver of the Range Rover involved in the incident, told coroner Andrew Pascoe at Scunthorpe’s Civic Centre: "The cyclist was still on the left-hand side of the road as I went to overtake.

“As I started coming past, I could see him in the corner of my eye coming to the front of the car.

"I tried moving over to the other side of the road, but I could not go any further."

Police Constable Ian Clark said it was "likely" the cyclist had been wearing earphones at the time of the collision - the implication being he may not have heard the vehicle behind him - adding: "I think a significant majority of motorists would have done as Mr Coggon did," he said.

The victim’s mother, Ida Coggan, said: "Andrew was a beautiful son who thought the world of his family. He is very much loved and missed every minute of the day and will never be forgotten."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

37 comments

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karlowen [65 posts] 3 years ago
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I may be incorrect. But i think you have the name of the victims mother wrong  39 A terrible accident, and i wish the family much condolence. Personally i will never ride with headphones in, i feel my hearing almost as important as my sight whilst on the bike.

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worthydolt [13 posts] 3 years ago
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Cyclist killed by motorist. Presumption of guilt of the cyclist. See anything wrong with this picture?

I tried moving over to the other side of the road, but I could not go any further.

If you'd been passing in accordance with rule 163 you'd already have been on the other side of the road. And doesn't the highway code state that it's not law but failure to comply with it may result in breaking the law? Yet the Range Rover driver is blameless. This whole story really stinks.

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zanf [858 posts] 3 years ago
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worthydolt wrote:

Cyclist killed by motorist. Presumption of guilt of the cyclist. See anything wrong with this picture?

I tried moving over to the other side of the road, but I could not go any further.

If you'd been passing in accordance with rule 163 you'd already have been on the other side of the road. And doesn't the highway code state that it's not law but failure to comply with it may result in breaking the law? Yet the Range Rover driver is blameless. This whole story really stinks.

The other line that doesnt compute is:

“As I started coming past, I could see him in the corner of my eye coming to the front of the car.

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Bez [599 posts] 3 years ago
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" As I started coming past, I could see him in the corner of my eye coming to the front of the car. I tried moving over to the other side of the road, but I could not"

Didn't try applying the brake, though, I assume?

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3cylinder [95 posts] 3 years ago
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zanf wrote:
worthydolt wrote:

Cyclist killed by motorist. Presumption of guilt of the cyclist. See anything wrong with this picture?

I tried moving over to the other side of the road, but I could not go any further.

If you'd been passing in accordance with rule 163 you'd already have been on the other side of the road. And doesn't the highway code state that it's not law but failure to comply with it may result in breaking the law? Yet the Range Rover driver is blameless. This whole story really stinks.

The other line that doesnt compute is:

“As I started coming past, I could see him in the corner of my eye coming to the front of the car.

As always it is hard to get a sense for what actually happened from the few quotes reported. I doubt there was presumption of guilt of the cyclist, if anything I would expect there to be a presumption of guilt of the driver, but that’s why there are inquests. You have to trust that the inquest considered all the evidence and statements regarding vehicle speeds, visibility, road type and conditions etc. and came to reasoned conclusion (which was ‘accident’ not ‘guilt’, although clearly the suggestion is that headphones contributed to the accident by the cyclist not realizing the car was there) . I can see that a driver that has started to overtake might have no time or options to avoid a collision either by braking or moving out of the way (“could not go any further” suggests they were already on the far right side of the road, perhaps it was a narrow country lane? There are plenty I use where it is perfectly OK for a car to overtake me, but there isn’t a whole heap of extra width) I’ve experienced this myself on the M25 when a car came sideways across the road in front of me – no warning, no expectation that a vehicle might do that, and by the time I saw it, it was already across into the next lane and heading for the central reservation (I suspect it had been clipped by a HGV). I didn’t hit or get hit by that car, but that was entirely luck. Having said all that, as a driver (or cyclist) deciding to overtake you always have to ask yourself ‘what might that other road user do?’, and perhaps hold back even though you ‘could’ get past. I bet that as cyclists we give a lot more room to kids on bikes (who are very likely to do something erratic) and less to fellow cyclists who we assume will have predictable movements.
Tragic. My condolences to the family, but I can’t see that we can second guess the inquest from the information in the article.

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BetterNever [11 posts] 3 years ago
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Driver's story seems questionable, but there isn't enough info to go on.

There are lessons for any cyclist though. Don't cycle with headphones in, you need all your senses. And don't pull out unless it's safe to do so, either because you've looked behind and checked, indicated that you're turning, or riding defensively and positioned yourself so that it's obvious where you're going.

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jimmyd [110 posts] 3 years ago
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He wasn't killed because he was wearing earphones, he was killed as he didn't look before moving across the road. I see other cyclists do this a lot and scares me each time.

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jova54 [659 posts] 3 years ago
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jimmyd wrote:

He wasn't killed because he was wearing earphones, he was killed as he didn't look before moving across the road. I see other cyclists do this a lot and scares me each time.

Agreed

I was beginning to worry with the first load of responders who saw some sinister plot by the Police and coroner to blame the cyclist when 'obviously' the motorist was to blame.

Just occasionally cyclists do silly things and the unfortunate result, as in this case, is that they get killed or seriously injured.

Sympathies to the family and friends of the cyclist don't have to balanced with demonising the other party.

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WolfieSmith [1326 posts] 3 years ago
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Without wanting to sound like Columbo... Oh go on then.. "There's just one thing that's bothering me Mr Coggon.."

Sunset on September 10th last year was 19.26 - a full four minutes before Andrew Watson was apparently hit. Even with head phones Watson should have noticed a full set of Range Rover lights lighting the road around him. If they were on...

There is a growing tendency for motorists to run side lights or no lights at all at dusk these days. It's caused by one of three things;

- auto lights not coming on in low light properly
- forgetfulness
- and the old favourite - plain cussedness.

No way to prove it now but interesting all the same.

I'll get my mac.

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nowasps [454 posts] 3 years ago
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He may have been wearing earphones. He may not. The driver may have had his stereo on, or been reading a book for all anyone knows.

A copper says most motorists would have hit him. Is that really how it works?

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rich22222 [165 posts] 3 years ago
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Hmmm, headphones certainly can't be blamed.
Either the cyclist swerved straight into the path of the car without looking or the car overtook him too close/too fast not allowing him space to make a mistake.
The headphones are irrelevant so I don't see why they should even be mentioned.

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velophilia [39 posts] 3 years ago
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Cyclist likely experienced wind noise. Which person actually relies on their hearing before making a move? Why is it cyclist need the ability to hear and other road users do not?

Green cross code does not suggest you listen left, then right and then left again.

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Batfink [18 posts] 3 years ago
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Velophilia speaks the truth.

Past a certain speed, you cant hear anything behind you. Unless, of course, the things behind you are beeping a horn, sounding a siren or blasting out drum and bass through a bassbin.

Unfortunately, though, many, many cyclists don't (or aren't confident enough to) look behind them before making a manoeuvre. I see a horrifying number of near-misses every day while cycling through central London. Most of the time, they don't even realise how close they were to getting knocked off, and wonder why they're getting beeped at!

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Municipal Waste [240 posts] 3 years ago
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MercuryOne wrote:

Without wanting to sound like Columbo... Oh go on then.. "There's just one thing that's bothering me Mr Coggon.."

Sunset on September 10th last year was 19.26 - a full four minutes before Andrew Watson was apparently hit. Even with head phones Watson should have noticed a full set of Range Rover lights lighting the road around him. If they were on...

There is a growing tendency for motorists to run side lights or no lights at all at dusk these days. It's caused by one of three things;

- auto lights not coming on in low light properly
- forgetfulness
- and the old favourite - plain cussedness.

No way to prove it now but interesting all the same.

I'll get my mac.

Plus it was probably cloudy and therefore even darker.

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Critchio [181 posts] 3 years ago
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Im disappointed about the police officers comments. Police dont deal with probability when looking at criminal culpability. Their conclusions must be based on evidence and fact. If he was one of the investigating officers then it looks like he's put his own personal opinion forward which could be grossly incorrect. Even though a Coroner's Inquest is not a criminal trial, Police act as agents of the Coroner and they investigate applying the criminal test (beyond all reasonble doubt)not the civil test (balance of probability). A Coroner can make assumptions and give opinions but the Police should remain strictly impartial and not offer opinions. The officer should only have said one of three things (if anything);

1)The victim was not wearing headphones based on evidence.

2)The victim was wearing headphones based on evidence.

3)It cannot be established if the victim was wearing headphones.

It should have been option 3.

At the risk of making my own assumptions I will say it feels like another poor investigation where a cyclist is wiped out. As has been already mentioned there are aspects of this that just don't sit right.

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alant [2 posts] 3 years ago
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I cycle on that road every week. I am not familiar with this particular incident but can say that the road is a country lane with a drop into a drain / dyke on one side and fields on the other. The road undulates badly and if it occurred where I believe from the info provided then there are trees and the area is quite dark for a short section even during the day. I am not saying that the driver was at fault as I wasn't there, but it always amazes me the speed at which many people drive along this road, and they are quite happy to pass you at speeds which I personally feel, though again this is only my view, are too fast. I am not anti driver, I have built kit cars, my last car was a Z4 sports car and I enjoy driving.

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ScotchPoth (not verified) [368 posts] 3 years ago
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This stinking inquest verdict doesnt suprise me in the least,its just following a trend in this country of the onus of blame on the cyclist
Recently there was a case on one of those ubiquitous motorway cops shows on the BBC in which a busker was cycling home and killed on a particulary dark stretch of road
It was established he had no lights or fluorescent clothing and also had alcohol in his blood,the driver was probably correctly absolved of responsibility due to the mitigating circumstances although she didnt stop at the scene because she intimated she had struck 'an animal' which i thought was palpable bullshit
but i felt uncomfortable in the suspiciously prompt Police decision to not pursue charges due to not stopping at the scene

But this case would have been in broad daylight,the cyclist cogent,visible and not pissed and yet the stinking police putting the blame on the only scrap of negative behaviour by the cyclist in that he was inhibited in his senses by 'earphones'
presumably these are the 'in ear' type and not the all encompasing Dr Dre type sported by our mentally retarded youth nowadays
But i very much doubt this could be the defining factor in the cause of death,i mean if a bloody great Range Rover is roaring up behind you pretty much know its there

In my experience these chelsea tractor morons are fond of blasting past at 60mph in a display of superiority and exhibitionism
But im not suprised,the UK is decades behind Europe in terms of integration of cycling into societal norms and acceptance and if the judiciary and police persist in clearing motorists of dangerous driving and light sentences attitudes will not change anytime soon

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Colin Peyresourde [1749 posts] 3 years ago
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Batfink wrote:

Velophilia speaks the truth.

Past a certain speed, you cant hear anything behind you. Unless, of course, the things behind you are beeping a horn, sounding a siren or blasting out drum and bass through a bassbin.

Unfortunately, though, many, many cyclists don't (or aren't confident enough to) look behind them before making a manoeuvre. I see a horrifying number of near-misses every day while cycling through central London. Most of the time, they don't even realise how close they were to getting knocked off, and wonder why they're getting beeped at!

I saw it enough today. I was riding through traffic to a three lane junction (the one on Kingsland road which takes you down Liverpool Street. The rider in front of me pulled up to the car in front, realised that traffic was holding her up (the lights went green) and cut into the next lane. She was lucky the Range Rover saw her on this occasion. Being stuck on her fixie she didn't have the power to accelerate into the 'space' she saw. She was VERY lucky. It's this sort of behaviour that fuels driver rage.

Rightly or wrongly her cavalier attitude could have resulted in them going through court action. Riders who don't respect the road, don't respect other users make it more dangerous for the rest of us.

I have no idea what happened in this incident. The quotes don't really tell much of story and without an understanding of where all the protagonists were it's impossible to make a reasoned judgement. Part of me wishes that road.cc reported this incidents in a much more factual and explanatory way. We learn nothing about whether good cyclists are being injured/killed, or whether bad cyclists are being killed etc. Or if the car drivers are at fault. How representative is this of the cycling experience?

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ch [188 posts] 3 years ago
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> it was "likely" the cyclist had been wearing earphones

"Likely" ?

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Argos74 [407 posts] 3 years ago
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Difficult to say anything with having sight of the Coroner's report, and seeing the angle of impact. If the impact was to the offside of the cyclist, with impact damage to the right hand side of the bike, and injuries to the right leg and torso, one would concur with the verdict, the police officer's subjective commentary not withstanding.

If the damage is of a rear end shunt nature - the rear wheel crumpled, and cyclist injuries to head, torso and arms from being thrown forward into the road - possibly at an angle - or back on to the vehicle bonnet, one might wish to ask some very pointed questions of the WTF nature. The site of impact on the vehicle would be similarly useful in determining the narrative of the collision and what lead up to it.

Having said that, I do occasionally see some very scary riding even in heavy commuter traffic, where one would expect a cyclist to be hyper vigilant.

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bike_food [172 posts] 3 years ago
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Another classic bit of roadcc reporting. An article full of hand picked quotes and bias designed to make cyclists feel like victims and anger us for the rest of the day.
I stopped reading papers years ago to avoid having to read this style of article. Just the facts would be good, expect a mild slant toward cyclists but nothing more.

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Colin Peyresourde [1749 posts] 3 years ago
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bike_food wrote:

Another classic bit of roadcc reporting. An article full of hand picked quotes and bias designed to make cyclists feel like victims and anger us for the rest of the day.
I stopped reading papers years ago to avoid having to read this style of article. Just the facts would be good, expect a mild slant toward cyclists but nothing more.

+1 - this sort of thing discourages cycling. It makes it look like we are prey to car users. This scares my girlfriend and would probably do the same for others. Responsible, objective reporting helps people understand the risks accurately. If cyclists are at fault it makes it clear that cyclists need to improve their road awareness and that good cycling practises are required, if not, then we understand that cycling needs greater protection. But this is sort of scaremongering.

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3cylinder [95 posts] 3 years ago
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ScotchPoth wrote:

This stinking inquest verdict doesnt suprise me in the least,its just following a trend in this country of the onus of blame on the cyclist
Recently there was a case on one of those ubiquitous motorway cops shows on the BBC in which a busker was cycling home and killed on a particulary dark stretch of road
It was established he had no lights or fluorescent clothing and also had alcohol in his blood,the driver was probably correctly absolved of responsibility due to the mitigating circumstances although she didnt stop at the scene because she intimated she had struck 'an animal' which i thought was palpable bullshit
but i felt uncomfortable in the suspiciously prompt Police decision to not pursue charges due to not stopping at the scene

But this case would have been in broad daylight,the cyclist cogent,visible and not pissed and yet the stinking police putting the blame on the only scrap of negative behaviour by the cyclist in that he was inhibited in his senses by 'earphones'
presumably these are the 'in ear' type and not the all encompasing Dr Dre type sported by our mentally retarded youth nowadays
But i very much doubt this could be the defining factor in the cause of death,i mean if a bloody great Range Rover is roaring up behind you pretty much know its there

In my experience these chelsea tractor morons are fond of blasting past at 60mph in a display of superiority and exhibitionism
But im not suprised,the UK is decades behind Europe in terms of integration of cycling into societal norms and acceptance and if the judiciary and police persist in clearing motorists of dangerous driving and light sentences attitudes will not change anytime soon

I remember seeing that program. If I recall it was night, over the crest of a dual carriageway bridge with no shoulder, where cars can reasonably be doing 60-70 and the cyclist 10-15 tops. No lights or reflectors, dark clothing. I'm sorry, but that cyclist was not showing consideration to other road users or his own safety. The girl who hit him should have stopped (but she was young, scared, its dark...she went home and told her dad instead) No 'jury' would ever blame the driver for that collision.

Don't get me wrong, we must never have a a situation where lack of fluoro/lights/helmet absolves any driver of any blame, but equally you have to ask yourself what is reasonable and share some responsibility for safety.

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eurotrash [88 posts] 3 years ago
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Unfortunately I see this behaviour often enough in cyclists in London, moving out into the road e.g. to overtake another cyclist without first shoulder checking. Have seen a few near misses, recently with a driver having to slam on his brakes (and his horn) as the cyclist he was about to overtake also decided to overtake another cyclist and move out into the road without checking it was clear to do so. Very very near miss. When that happens it's really the cyclist's fault, and as the vulnerable road user, you really do want to ensure you're not putting your life at risk by blindly moving out in front of oncoming/faster deadly vehicles.

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Edgeley [370 posts] 3 years ago
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So, deaf people are allowed to have driving licences, quite rightly. However they are not allowed to cycle on the roads unless they accept that they are legitimate targets for drivers.

To state what is obvious to any cyclist, if you are in a tonne of metal, you have a responsibility to avoid hitting things.

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sim1515 [141 posts] 3 years ago
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eurotrash wrote:

Unfortunately I see this behaviour often enough in cyclists in London, moving out into the road e.g. to overtake another cyclist without first shoulder checking. Have seen a few near misses, recently with a driver having to slam on his brakes (and his horn) as the cyclist he was about to overtake also decided to overtake another cyclist and move out into the road without checking it was clear to do so. Very very near miss. When that happens it's really the cyclist's fault, and as the vulnerable road user, you really do want to ensure you're not putting your life at risk by blindly moving out in front of oncoming/faster deadly vehicles.

The problem with this is that if the driver was overtaking according to the highway code, they would be far enough over that if the cyclist did need to pull out (to overtake another cyclist or go round a pothole/drain etc) they would still not be in danger of hitting them.

Cyclists should look over their shoulder to check nothing is there when pulling out but cars shouldn't be overtaking close enough for this to be an issue.

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Tony Farrelly [2869 posts] 3 years ago
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bike_food wrote:

Another classic bit of roadcc reporting. An article full of hand picked quotes and bias designed to make cyclists feel like victims and anger us for the rest of the day.
I stopped reading papers years ago to avoid having to read this style of article. Just the facts would be good, expect a mild slant toward cyclists but nothing more.

Can you point me to the slanted bits?

It's a straight piece of reporting - with no comment on our part. Our policy is to add no 'slant' either way. You've added the slant.

We didn't write the story because we thought the verdict was an outrage - it seems reasonable. We certainly don't report cases such as this on the assumption that the motorist is always in the wrong. Some commenters obviously seem to hold that view, but it's not ours - something we've reiterated on numerous occassions over the years.

The reason we've reported this is the suggestion that if the cyclist was wearing earphones it may have been a contributing factor - not because we think this is a sinister plot to blame the cyclist, but because we've reported on a number of other cases in which the wearing of earhpones has been cited either as a contributory factor or possibly the main factor leading to a cyclist's death. We're not even making a judgement as to whether wearing earphones is dangerous or not - that's for the individual to decide. What I would conclude from this case is that what is dangerous is not concentrating and that sadly if you're a cyclist you can pay the ultimate price for making that mistake.

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Paul J [901 posts] 3 years ago
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No one has yet mentioned Rule 167:

“DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example: * approaching or at a road junction on either side of the road“.

The Highway Code says this precisely because road users are likely to be manoeuvring to leave or enter the road ahead – as the cyclist in this case was.

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sim1515 [141 posts] 3 years ago
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Paul J wrote:

No one has yet mentioned Rule 167:

“DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example: * approaching or at a road junction on either side of the road“.

The Highway Code says this precisely because road users are likely to be manoeuvring to leave or enter the road ahead – as the cyclist in this case was.

Agree

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700c [956 posts] 3 years ago
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+1 I was about to make the same point about overtaking near junctions, which we assume was the case from the 'turn right' comment.

That said, the verdict was one of accidental death and we have to assume all this was taken into account.

The comment about headphones is totally unhelpful and irrelevant, and taken in isolation could imply cyclist fault and a contributing factor in his death, which cannot be the case for reasons others have outlined

I can't find the full inquest verdict online , to see if this was taken into account or not.

In this case, Road cc have just reported what was in the local paper,.so they haven't added a slant, assuming no further info is available,.but if the full verdict could be summarised that would make it clear what the point about headphones was.. Without it, it does lead us to assume some blame is being apportioned to the cyclist for wearing headphones,.which is an important point.

I do find that sometimes road cc articles do have bias and are indeed designed to make us cyclists feel angry about motorists or politicians or other groups. Sometimes this is as a result of the story, in which case fine, sometimes this is as a result of selective quoting etc. just look at the recent ukip stories as an example of this.

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