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Cyclist killed after brakes on e-bike failed on notorious North Yorkshire descent, inquest hears

Craig Barnhart, the third cyclist in six years to die at Dibbles Bridge, had planned to have his disc brakes serviced after lockdown

A cyclist was killed when the brakes on his e-bike failed as he rode down a steep descent towards a notorious bridge in North Yorkshire that has been the site of a number of fatalities over the years, including two other cyclists in the past decade. Yesterday’s inquest into the death of 66-year-old Craig Barnhart heard that he was aware that his front brake needed servicing, and had been relying on his rear brake while waiting until lockdown finished to have the bike serviced.

According to data from his Garmin, Mr Barnhart, originally from the United States but who had lived in the Yorkshire Dales with his wife Anna for two decades, was travelling at 47 miles per hour when he struck the parapet of Dibbles Bridge after coming down the 16 per cent slope on 22 April this year, reports The Yorkshire Post.

The couple were out together on their e-bikes, and Mrs Barnhart told the inquest at County Hall, Northallerton, that her husband had passed her at speed on the descent, shouting that his brakes had failed.

After hitting the bridge, which is preceded by a sharp turn, he was thrown onto the roof of a barn, with his wife describing him as “looking dazed.” Both she and Paul Mountford, the owner of an adjacent cottage, shouted at Mr Barnhart to keep still.

However, he tried to sit upright, causing him to slip and fall from the roof, striking a stone trough and sustaining fatal injuries to his head, chest and pelvis.

Mrs Barnhart and Mrs Mountford said that following the second fall, he could not speak and was breathing heavily and although paramedics were on the scene quickly, he died less than an hour later.

North Yorkshire Police forensic collision investigator PC Paul Harris said that the hydraulic disc brakes on Mr Barnhart’s bike were “very much restricted,” with worn brake pads and no brake fluid, adding that the rear brake had been used “to destruction” due to the defective front brake.

Following the deaths of two cyclists at the same location in 2014 and 2015, both of whom had descended the same hill and been thrown over the bridge parapet, North Yorkshire County Council installed safety mesh on the west side of the bridge, but it did not extend to the point where Mr Barnhart struck the parapet and was thrown over it.

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

The council now plans to install more protection at the bridge, as well as signs warning cyclists of the danger of the descent and the bend that lies at the bottom of it.

Jonathan Leach, assistant coroner for North Yorkshire, recorded a conclusion of death in a road traffic collision with no third party involvement.

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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