A coroner's inquest has heard evidence from a number of motorists who said that they were unable to see a cyclist who was killed when he was hit by a bus as he walked his bike along an unlit road near the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station construction site in Somerset.
John Page, aged 50 and from Bridgwater, had dismounted his bike and was walking along the left-hand side of the road when he was struck by the bus at 5.27pm on the evening of Monday 20 January, reports SomersetLive. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Alexander Steer, the driver of the Somerset Passenger Solution double decker bus that struck Mr Page, had picked up workers from the construction site owned by EDF Energy to take them to a park & ride facility.
In a statement read out at Somerset Coroner’s Court in Taunton, he said: “I was driving on an unlit stretch and I had my head beams on and I was aware another Somerset Passenger Solutions bus was travelling behind me. I recall there was traffic coming towards me in the opposite direction.
“Everything seemed all normal. I was travelling at about 40mph when suddenly I heard a bang and looked to my nearside and I could see the nearside screen had been damaged.
“I probably said, 'What the hell was that?' and I just hadn't seen anything. I had no idea what had hit the windscreen but I had braked and stopped to see what had happened.
“I couldn't open the door as the automatic release wouldn't operate but a passenger then gave me a hand to open the doors.
“I then found the bus had collided with a cyclist. I remained at the scene and I was interviewed at the scene by police.
“I am not able to say the range and view I had but all I can say is that I could not see the cyclist at all.”
Somerset Senior Coroner Tony Williams referred to a number of other witness statements in which conditions on the road were described as “very dark” due to the absence of street or ambient lighting.
Some motorists travelling on the same road before the fatal crash described how they could hardly see Mr Page, who was said to be dressed in dark clothing and with no reflective material on his clothing or on his bike.
EDF Energy worker Kerry Henderson said: “All of a sudden, I saw a person to my left about two or three metres ahead of my car, which took me by surprise as I had not seen it before.
“The person, which I could not tell was male or female, was wearing black trousers, a black top with a red stripe on it with a dark coloured push bike. It all happened very quickly.”
A post-mortem established that Mr Page had died due to multiple injuries, and no trace of alcohol or drugs was found in his blood.
The bus was found by Avon & Somerset Police to be in good condition with no defects, and an investigation absolved the bus driver of any blame.
A small LED light was found at the scene, but “would not have been particularly bright,” according to PC Anthony Lewington, who investigated CCTV and dashcam footage related to the incident.
“It is evident from this that it was difficult to see Mr Page,” he said. “Several witnesses contacted the police to state who they say was the cyclist walking along the road prior to the collision.
“They all confirmed he was wearing dark clothing and could not be easily seen.
“They describe narrowly missing this person, having to swerve to avoid him or seeing vehicles having to swerve to avoid him.
“In my opinion, there was insufficient time available to Mr Steer to detect or identify Mr Page on the carriageway and as such, Mr Steer would not have been able to react to avoid the collision,” he added.
Mr Williams agreed that it would have been difficult for motorists to have seen Mr Page, and said: “I will record a conclusion of a road traffic collision, noting that on January 20, 2020, on Hinkley Point Road in Bridgwater, John Page, whilst pushing his bicycle and wearing dark clothing in an area with no ambient lighting, was struck by a bus resulting in him sustaining fatal injuries.”
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.