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“Simple mistake” cost cyclist his life when he swerved to avoid van, police officer tells inquest

But David Koryczan's fiancée says driver should have made space for him...

A police officer has told a coroner’s inquest that a “simple mistake” cost a cyclist his life when he swerved to avoid a van on a country road in the Cotswolds – but the victim’s fiancée says that the driver should have made space for him.

David Koryczan, aged 66 and from Turkdean in Gloucestershire, sustained a fatal spinal cord injury after he braked and swerved into a gravel verge to avoid the approaching van on 9 May this year, reports Gloucestershire Live.

Police collision investigator PC Simon Edwards told the inquest: “My view is that Mr Koryczan reacted to a hazard ahead while negotiating the downhill slope.

“The van driver says he came across Mr Koryczan when he was already in the verge. It is possible Mr Koryczan reacted to another hazard, not the van, but the most likely danger in my opinion would have been the van.”

He said that there was no CCTV or dashcam footage to help establish what had happened, and the van driver told police that he had not seen Mr Koryczan until after he came off his bike.

“This would appear to be a single, simple mistake – no reflection on the cyclist’s experience or capability,” PC Edwards added.

“Drivers do have an obligation to be careful for cyclists. This van would have taken up considerable space in the road. Their coming together would not have given David a great deal of time to react.”

At the time of his death, Mr Koryczan had been awaiting a heart bypass operation, which had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

His fiancée Jan Barley, who had been his partner for 18 years, told the inquest that she regularly went on rides with him, and that he was a “very proficient bike rider.”

“He had ridden that particular road where it happened hundreds and hundreds of times and he never rode near the verge,” she said. “He was always a good distance from the verge because he was concerned about the gravel.”

Describing Mr Koryczan as “the love of my life,” she added: “I still cannot get it straight in my head that he had to be the one who took evasive action when he was the one who was vulnerable on the road. The van should have taken action to avoid him.

Mr Koryczan belonged to Cheltenham & County Cycling Club whose chairman, Martin Cain, described him following his death as “an active member and enthusiastic volunteer with the club.”

Gloucestershire assistant coroner Roland Wooderson recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

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.

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25 comments

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jacknorell | 3 years ago
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To road.cc: when you add the ability to block a user and quotes of / replies to that user, I will subscribe right away. Eg I don't want to see people like SocratiCyclist who poison the commons.

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Rendel Harris replied to jacknorell | 3 years ago
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jacknorell wrote:

To road.cc: when you add the ability to block a user and quotes of / replies to that user, I will subscribe right away. Eg I don't want to see people like SocratiCyclist who poison the commons.

+1 - I mentioned to admin some time ago that if they were prepared to block the people who come on here simply in order to get their jollies by trolling virtually every article then they could count on me for a subscription.

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ktache replied to Rendel Harris | 3 years ago
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I started my subscription when he was thrown off for a while.

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Captain Badger replied to ktache | 3 years ago
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ktache wrote:

I started my subscription when he was thrown off for a while.

Did SC actually get thrown off? or did it just go on Trollidy or summat? 

BJ disappeared at around the same time, and although they often bounced off each other, was nowhere near as yucky

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ktache replied to Captain Badger | 3 years ago
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BJ disappeared, and I thought about subscibing, then SC vanished for a while, so I did, then unfortunately they came back.

Congrats to the trolling of the troll, whoever thought of it, cheered me up proper.

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Hirsute replied to jacknorell | 3 years ago
1 like

uBlock Origin.

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bikeman01 | 3 years ago
5 likes

Don't know about everyone else but I habitually select a high gear when going down hill whether pedalling or not. My handlebars are also lower than my handlebars because that's the style of my bike and it's what fits.

I've never come close to pitching over the handle bars even when emergency braking.

 I hope if I'm ever involved in a fatal colision the investigator wont jump to ill informed conclusions. I also hope the 3rd party wont be a lying shit without a consience only interested in protecting their own arse.

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brooksby replied to bikeman01 | 3 years ago
1 like

I'd tend to agree (depending on the road).  Surely pedalling in a low gear while going downhill would give you even less control??

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Rendel Harris replied to bikeman01 | 3 years ago
2 likes
bikeman01 wrote:

Don't know about everyone else but I habitually select a high gear when going down hill whether pedalling or not. My handlebars are also lower than my handlebars because that's the style of my bike and it's what fits.

Just checked all six bikes on the premises - 2x road bikes, 2x mtbs, 2x ebikes - and all have saddles higher than the bars. I would always select a high gear at the top of a descent even if I intended to freewheel all the way down as it allows me to sustain the downhill speed on the flat (if safe), then I would gradually shift lower as I lost momentum until in my cruising gear. The fact that the policeman appears to think that either fact justifies a conclusion that the rider was somehow being reckless is scandalous.

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Armchairanarchist replied to bikeman01 | 3 years ago
3 likes

In reference to the choice of gearing, I find it genuinely disturbing that this misinformed perception is even included in a collision investigation report. Unless of course, they follow the same logic for motorized vehicles. "The vehicle was capable of travelling at 130mph , despite being driven in a 30", "the car had a spoiler and looked "Sporty" which suggests fast, spirited driving" or other such rubbish.

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Hirsute | 3 years ago
11 likes

I use country lanes as a walker, cyclist, driver. far too many drivers carry on as they are the only ones on the road. Insufficient regard for hazards, presumably because they think no one will be round the bend. I've avoided several collisions simply by approaching blind bends slowly thereby allowing the driver from the other way (who is partly on the wrong side of the road) to get round me.

The balance of probability is that the van driver was going too fast for the situation.

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zero_trooper | 3 years ago
6 likes

The conclusion from the bike's gearing seems to have more weight than the driver admitting to not seeing the cyclist?!?

Why isn't <paraphrasing here> 'I didn't see him until he was on the gravel' more significant.

I take it that 'on the gravel' is a euphemism for 'crashed'. I didn't see the cyclist until he had crashed?

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Bungle_52 | 3 years ago
14 likes

The conclusion you come to in this case is down to who you believe. I know who I believe. One thing I am certain of is that if the cyclist had had a camera we would know who was at fault and if it was the driver steps could have been taken to stop him doing it again. It wouldn't have saved Mr. Koryczan but it may have saved others.

Another point to be made is that the road was 4m wide. The van was 2.4m wide. If the van was in the verge there would be a gap of 1.6 m. Not massive but enough for an experienced cyclist to get through even at speed especially if the van was stationary. If however the van was in the middle of the road and travelling at speed with 0.8m each side that woud be a different matter. You have to decide which you think is more likely.

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the little onion replied to Bungle_52 | 3 years ago
5 likes

I know which one I find more likely. I'd also make the observation that the police, as hard a job as they have, often show a distinct lack of enthusiasm for protecting cyclists' lives.

 

However, realistically, unless some other evidence comes to light, this is not going to meet the threshold for a prosecution. Not even with the most enlightened and driven police and CPS officials. 

 

Condolences to the family, not just for the loss, but the lack of justice.

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dodpeters | 3 years ago
5 likes

Single Witness Suicide Swerve?

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wtjs | 3 years ago
15 likes

This is the infamous Police Catch-22 which I have droned on and on about previously: you can provide impeccable and indisputable video of offences against cyclists but the police aren't interested because the cyclist isn't seriously injured or dead. When the cyclist is seriously injured or dead, there usually isn't a cyclist camera or it's destroyed or thrown away by the driver and any video from the driver instantly disappears, so the only evidence comes from the last person left standing: the motorist. Some Catch, that Catch-22.

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grOg replied to wtjs | 3 years ago
2 likes

Cameras that record to the cloud would be a great idea.

https://www.lifewire.com/backup-your-ip-security-cameras-to-the-cloud-24...

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Bungle_52 | 3 years ago
3 likes

Condolances to the cyclist's family.

Search "turkdean glosnews" for a more detailed report on this incident which is very informative. I've drawn my own conclusions, they may be wrong but one of them is that the lack of camera footage was very frustrating to the investigating officer.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Bungle_52 | 3 years ago
11 likes

I'll admit that reading it, the Police officer unfortunately could only go on presented evidence with the only account coming from the driver and his passenger. He all but says the only reason for him to be on the gravel is the van forced him there but I still find it hard that this means they have to say "his mistake" was to be on the gravel.

Unfortunately it means another killer driver gets away with it due to covering it up rather then accepting responsibility for their actions.

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zero_trooper replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 3 years ago
4 likes

Quite right, 'simple mistake' implies that the cyclist was, however unfortunately, at fault. The circumstantial evidence suggests that the the presence of the van was the main contributory factor. The police officer could have said 'simple accident' and the coroner could have recorded an open verdict. 

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Captain Badger | 3 years ago
5 likes

My condolences to the bereaved's loved ones.

I'm not clear what mistake Mr Koryczan made. It sounds like he was left no option but to take the action he did?

 

 

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grOg replied to Captain Badger | 3 years ago
2 likes

The police can't prove that the van driver was at fault, so they have to assume the cyclist made a mistake when he crashed on the verge - they can't infer the driver was to blame without evidence.

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Captain Badger replied to grOg | 3 years ago
3 likes
grOg wrote:

The police can't prove that the van driver was at fault, so they have to assume the cyclist made a mistake when he crashed on the verge - they can't infer the driver was to blame without evidence.

Neither can they prove the rider was at fault without evidence.
What I meant more was they said "a simple mistake cost him his life..."
They didn't actually define what that mistake actually was ,( I might have missed it in fairness)

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AlsoSomniloquism | 3 years ago
17 likes

The Police Accident Investigator has his view. But as someone who regularly sees the speed of vehicles on these narrow lanes and the lack of regard for cyclists and pedestrians, my view is Mr Koryczan was forced into the verge to avoid the van who didn't want to slow or deviate significantly to allow a safe transit. 

Just shame that when this happens anywhere else when there is evidence, the Police treat it as one of those things then as well when loose gravel, muddy verges are everywhere and any cyclist could end up like the poor unfortunate soul.

Thoughts to his partner.

 

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eburtthebike replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 3 years ago
14 likes
AlsoSomniloquism wrote:

The Police Accident Investigator has his view. But as someone who regularly sees the speed of vehicles on these narrow lanes and the lack of regard for cyclists and pedestrians, my view is Mr Koryczan was forced into the verge to avoid the van who didn't want to slow or deviate significantly to allow a safe transit.

Exactly.  Anyone who has ridden on these lanes knows that many drivers, especially delivery drivers, really don't care about giving sufficient room to cyclists.  Such an experienced cyclist as this would not just swerve onto the gravel for no reason, and the driver's admission that he didn't see him until he was on the gravel is an indication that the driver was going faster than was safe.

It may have been a simple mistake that cost the life of the cyclist, but was it his mistake or the driver's?

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