The parents of a cyclist who was killed as he rode home at night on a main road near Bournemouth have urged that it be made safer for bike riders – an appeal echoed at an inquest into his death by a police inspector and the driver of the van involved in the fatal collision.
Christopher Gibbs, aged 30, was killed instantly when he was struck by a van driven by Kevin Johnson on the A338 at 10.40pm on 3 October 2017, reports the Bournemouth Echo.
Johnson was last year sentenced to a 12-month community order after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving. He said he had failed to see Mr Gibbs and believed he had hit a deer.
At an inquest into his death last Friday, Mr Gibbs’ mother, Deborah Turner, told Assistant Dorset Coroner Richard Middleton: "I would like all vulnerable road users to be kept safe, and if that means a cycle lane on the Wessex Way, then there should be a cycle lane.
“There is no safe alternative route for cyclists from Verwood to Poole."
She told the court that previously she had pleaded with her son not to ride his bike on the road because "I didn't want him exposed to 60 or 70mph traffic.
“I didn't want him, as a vulnerable road user, there. But he felt he would be alright, and he should have been."
His father, Rob Barron, said: "Something has to be done to make the Wessex Way safer."
Dorset Police established through GPS data that Johnson had stopped at the scene and had been driving below the speed limit at the time of the collision.
However, the impact had thrown Mr Gibbs’ body 130 feet and the driver thought he had hit a deer.
He told the inquest: "I'd just like to apologise to the family. It was a tragic accident, I'm not a bad person.
"I've been driving for 40 years and never had an accident in my life. If I thought I had hit a person I would have stopped and reported it straight away."
He added: "I'd like to see a cycle lane put in, and the lighting could be better on the road. Even some of the motorways are lit up better than that road."
Inspector Joe Pardey told the coroner: "There is clear evidence he stopped his vehicle," but added that 16 other drivers had given statements saying they had seen the rider, and all but one confirming they had noticed his rear light.
Asked whether there should be a cycle lane on the road, he said: "It is a major route into one of our biggest towns and cyclists should be afforded protection. A cycle lane would be great because it gives protection to cyclists."
Mr Middleton, who is considering recommending safety improvements on the road, concluded that Mr Gibbs’ death was the result of a road accident.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.