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Brake failure believed to have led to cyclist’s death at notorious Yorkshire bridge

Safety barriers were installed at Dibbles Bridge after two other cyclists lost their lives there in recent years

Brake failure is believed to have led to the death of a cyclist at a notorious bridge in the Yorkshire Dales where two other bike riders have been killed in recent years, those previous fatalities leading to the council installing safety barriers.

Craig Barnhart sustained fatal injuries when hit a wall and was thrown 20 feet over the parapet of Dibbles Bridge, near Hebden, on 22 April this year, reports the Yorkshire Post.

He had been riding his e-bike from Pateley Bridge, near the home where he lived with his wife in Bewerley, to Grassington, an inquest heard.

The 66 year old, originally from Colorado but living in Yorkshire for 20 years, is believed to have lost control of his bike after his brakes failed on a steep descent towards Dibbles Bridge from Fancarl Top.

Jonathan Heath, assistant coroner for North Yorkshire, has adjourned the full inquest into Mr Barnhart’s death to a future date.

One issue that the inquest is likely to examine is the safety barriers that were installed at the bridge following the deaths of two cyclists there several years ago.

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

In August 2015 consultant cardiologist Dr George Ballard, 41, died from multiple injuries when he was thrown over the bridge parapet into a ravine.

His death came a year after that of James Nelson, 32, from Skipton, who was killed in similar circumstances.

Dr Nick Hayward, who had been riding in a group with Dr Ballard, told the inquest into his friend’s death that he had warned him of the hazardous descent as well as the bend in the road at the foot of it.

He said that he “was slightly concerned” when Dr Ballard overtook him on the descent. “I remember him coming past 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.”

North Yorkshire County Council confirmed at the inquest that it would be fitting an interlocking rail and barrier on the left-hand parapet of the bridge to prevent similar fatalities in the future.

The previous year, an inquest into Mr Nelson’s death had heard that he too was thrown over the bridge parapet into the dry river bed. His body was not discovered until the following morning.

The bridge is particularly notorious for two coach crashes that claimed multiple lives, with seven people killed in 1925 when the brakes on the coach they were travelling in failed on the descent.

Half a century later, in 1975, 33 people on an outing to Grassington died when the coach driver lost control of the vehicle, which then hit the parapet of the bridge.

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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