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.
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.