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Sports cyclist dies after collision during long distance ride

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: January 17, 2011

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A SPORTS cyclist has died after an accident during an organised club run through country lanes near Stroud.

Rider Pat Appleton, 67, from Berkeley, suffered serious injuries in a collision between her bike and a van with a trailer beneath a railway bridge in Coaley.

Emergency services were quickly at the spot, on the corner outside Old Westfield Farmhouse between Coaley and Frocester, after the incident at lunchtime on Saturday.

Mrs Appleton, who fellow cyclists said was a retired postlady, was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.

Police, who also attended, said she later died of her injuries.

"She was a really good cyclist. She used to be a racing cyclist," said Daphne Edwards, from Box in Stroud.

Mrs Edwards, secretary of Stroud Valleys Cycle Club, was among riders who left flowers at the scene of the accident yesterday morning.

Cyclist Jill Deeley from Gloucester was also among those who paid tribute to Mrs Appleton.

"We are Stonehouse Wheelers and our ride was going this way this morning so we brought flowers," Mrs Deeley said.

A large number of cyclists, from many different clubs, had been involved in the 100km outing organised by Audax UK, the foremost long distance cycling association in the UK, on Saturday.

Retired GP Michael Whallett, 73, was among those first on the scene of the collision.

Dr Whallett, from Thornbury, whose son Nicholas, 39, owns Old Westfield Farmhouse, said he began CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to try and help.

He said the road under the bridge was dangerous and more cautions were required.

Road signs near the bridge currently warn only of an 11 feet nine inches height restriction.

Dr Whallett said: "It needs dead slow or slow down painted on the road, or oncoming vehicles in the middle of the road."

Further witnesses should contact police quoting incident 357 of January 15.

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  • Profile image for This is Gloucestershire
    redlight, london  |  January 17 2011, 10:45PM

    Spindles, thank you for your kind and courteous response.

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    Spindles, Gloucester  |  January 17 2011, 10:19PM

    Thank you both for your views and explanations. It's a pity my original message has been deleted, thereby making some of your remarks confusing to people who didn't get the chance to read it. At least we know more about cycling and the reasons why people enjoy it and it is to be hoped that this unfortunate accident will make drivers more aware of what can happen.

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    Stephen Poulton, Cheltenham  |  January 17 2011, 9:51PM

    There is a huge national drive towards exercise and cycling just happens to tick most of the boxes: It is Cardo-vascular; it promotes weight loss by muscle development and fat -burning; it encourages access to the Great Outdoors; it can be practiced by folk of all ages; it is non-contact, thus resulting in fewer injuries; it is non-impact, so results in fewer injuries compared to running; it can be combined with other life pursuits such as shopping and commuting. Audax is one of many outlets for cycling and requires entrants to complete a given distance within a broad time band; thus, it encourages a social, rather than racing approach. Audax riders are undertaking a tour and there are no dispensations to road traffic regulations. Most organised rides are at weekends and the country lanes are regarded as among the preferred roads, as other vehicles are normally travelling with more care and less speed. On Audax rides, recognising the range of experience, fitness and age, riders soon spread out along the course and by midday around Frocester and Coaley, they would have been in small groups with large road gaps; many would have been riding individually. Organisers DO undertake a Risk Assessment but this also recognises the ¿Touring¿ nature of the ride; I would hazard that this choke point might not have been regarded as particularly hazardous, when considering the use of the road by both experienced cyclists and drivers deemed ¿competent¿ to use the road network. We (cyclists) accept that we are sharing the roads, be they dual carriageways or lanes and, hopefully, adopt an appropriate style and responsibility. What we do find is a wide range of driver, with whom we must ¿negotiate¿ our safety. Most (especially at weekends) are most courteous and respectful. We DO consider the safe passage of other vehicles, as we recognise, that in the outcome of a confrontation, we, with little more than our experience (and perhaps a helmet) are the more vulnerable. I am not in a position to comment on the location and build-up to Pat¿s accident but recognising her age and previous cycling experience (she was an acquaintance), find it hard to fault her in this case. I am deeply saddened by any cyclist accident, the more so when other vehicles or persons are involved. Stephen Poulton Ret'd RAF Officer with previous experience as Transport Manager Audax Organiser National Standard Cycling (Bikeability) Instructor British Cycling Club Coach

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    REDLIGHT, LONDON  |  January 17 2011, 9:41PM

    I live in London but regularly enjoy cycling on the country lanes of Gloucestershire, including on the kind of "Audax" events on which this very sad death occurred. Hundreds of these events are run each year, ranging from 100km to 1400km, and this is the first time in my 15 years of taking part that I have heard of a rider being killed. I can assure Spindles that event organisers are required to carry out a full risk assessment and warn riders of any unusual risks that they may encounter. Usually, this covers hazards such as poor road surfaces, steep hills, blind corners and particularly busy junctions. It is difficult to phrase this without prejudicing the police investigation into this death, but no risk assessment can warn against the possibility that a cyclist may be hit by a motor vehicle. Country lanes are generally small and relatively quiet. Many grew out of walking routes or bridleways between villages. That is why they are particularly attractive for cycling. They were not created for cars, but cars now dominate them. Main roads were generally designed with cars in mind, although all are entitled to use them. They are smoother, wider and more direct, but they are less enjoyable for cycling in the daytime because of the volume of traffic and the aggressive attitude adopted by a minority of motorists. I have seen examples of both types of road described as "dangerous" but this is nonsense. There is, of course, no such thing as a dangerous road, only dangerous behaviour by some road users. Audax rides such as the one on Saturday are not races and, generally, the participants do not ride in big groups. After a few kilometres, even a large starting group starts to spread out into threes, twos and lone riders. From my experience, they go out of their way to avoid drivers feeling that they are being held up but the fact is that many cars nowadays are too wide to pass anything safely - pedestrian, horse or cyclist - on some lanes without the more vulnerable road user being forced to stop and cower at the roadside. Usually (and I do accept that just as there is a minority of thoughtless motorists there is also a minority of thoughtless cyclists who misbehave) cyclists will ride two or three abreast only where a road is too narrow for overtaking and move into single file as soon as it widens. On a two lane road there is no need for cyclists to ride in a line and, in fact, it is more convenient for motorists if they don't. Many drivers do not appreciate this but on a two lane road, it is better for the cyclists to ride two abreast as they can be overtaken more quickly when the opposite lane is clear. (Think about it - given that any vehicle will have to move into the opposite lane to overtake safely, is it quicker to overtake two or three cyclists taking up 6ft of road or three cyclists taking up 18ft?) Believe me, Spindles, if cyclists were not "just as careful as the drivers" there would be many more sad stories like the one on which you have made your understandable but uninformed comments. We all share the roads but those of us - and, again, I count myself in this category - who are in charge of large, powerful machines that can kill or maim have an additional responsibility to behave with care and consideration to more vulnerable road users.