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Keren Zhang fractured her skull when she crashed on descent during day trip to national park

A coroner has said that a cyclist who died after sustaining head injuries when she fell off her bike in the New Forest “could have survived” if she had been wearing a cycle helmet.

Keren Zhang, aged 26, fractured her skull when she lost control of her bike and crashed on a descent while riding with friends near Brockenhurst.

Ms Zhang, who lived in London, had travelled to the national park with six friends on a day trip, reports the Daily Echo.

The inquest at Winchester Coroner’s Court into hear death heard that the party hired bikes from Cyclexperience close to Brockenhurst railway station, but Ms Zhang declined the offer of a cycle helmet.

Ms Zhang, whose mother travelled from China to attend the inquest, was treated by paramedics at the roadside before being transferred to hospital, where she died.

Senior coroner Graham Short, recording a conclusion of accidental death, said: “On the balance of probabilities, I believe she could have survived if she was wearing a helmet.

“I must stress that cycle helmets do save lives. This case illustrates the risks of not doing so.”

The coroner said he was unable to explain how Ms Zhang had lost control of her bike, and the speed she was travelling at when she crashed was not reported.

While the Highway Code says that cyclists “should” wear a helmet, they are not compulsory in the UK.

In a briefing note the charity Cycling UK, which is opposed to making cycle helmets compulsory, says: “Standards only require cycle helmets to withstand the sort of impact that a rider is likely to suffer if they fall from their cycle from a stationary position (about 12mph).”

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.