Cyclist "racked with guilt" raises safety concerns about Richmond Hill descent where man died

Fatality: The man was thought to have skidded on gravel

Fatality: The man was thought to have skidded on gravel

First published in News
Last updated
Richmond and Twickenham Times: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A cyclist has raised concerns about one of Richmond Park’s busiest cycle route after a man died after falling from his bicycle earlier this week.

A 40-year-old man was taken in a critical condition to the Royal London Hospital by London’s Air Ambulance after the accident in Broomfield Hill at about 9.30am on Sunday, August 24, but died later that day.

No one else was involved in the accident and it is believed he lost control while coming down the hill and skidded on gravel.

The hill, part of a 1km route, has gradients from 4 per cent to 12 per cent and fast descents, with riders classing it as the most dangerous and difficult hill in the Royal Park.

Keen cyclist Rene Taylor, 40, from Raynes Park, said he came off his bike in the same spot five weeks ago and believed gravel played a part in his crash.

He said: "I was going to meet someone at the Richmond Gate and I went down and everything was fine and at the bottom where it bends, there is gravel which meant I wouldn’t be able to brake.

"I landed on the grass verge and the bike went behind me. Fortunately I was OK but I have been racked with guilt thinking I should have reported the gravel.

"That is the steepest hill in Richmond Park and as the bend goes round, you do pick up speed.

"I just think the roads could do with being cleared up a bit and the gravel taken away."

The Richmond Cycling Campaign (RCC) group has also spoken out about the condition of roads within the Royal Park.

Tim Lennon, from RCC, said: "[We are] deeply saddened to hear of the death of a cyclist in Richmond Park and our thoughts are with the victim's family.

"We do regularly hear about incidents in Richmond Park, whether involving cars, bicycles, or pedestrians, and we're keen to work with the Royal Parks to understand the circumstances, and whether this has lessons to be learned for how we all use the park and its facilities.

"In particular, it may be that the Royal Parks need to look at the state of the road surface at the edge, where more cyclists tend to be."

The man’s next of kin have been informed and officers from the Metropolitan Police Royal Parks Command Unit continue to investigate.

A Royal Parks spokeswoman said: "At the moment this is still a police matter so we have nothing further to add."

Comments (6)

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10:38pm Fri 29 Aug 14

twickeman says...

Although this was a very a very tragic and unfortunate accident, I don't think anyone should rush to blame the road surface or conditions.

The roads in Richmond Park are well maintained, and are in much better condition than some surrounding roads such as the badly potholed and patched top section of Richmond Hill.

I regularly cycle round Richmond Park and feel very safe on the road surfaces. Just as on any other roads, dirt and gravel can be washed on to the surface by heavy rain, so cyclists need to be wary in such conditions.

Broomfield Hill is a fast curving downhill section, and my advice to other cyclists is to ride in the middle of the lane and control speed approaching and around the fast bend. Do not ride at the edge of the road where the road cambers away, there might be gravel and there is no margin for error.

It's definitely not advisable to try and match David Weir's speed of 35mph down there (ref this month's Richmond Mag)!
Although this was a very a very tragic and unfortunate accident, I don't think anyone should rush to blame the road surface or conditions. The roads in Richmond Park are well maintained, and are in much better condition than some surrounding roads such as the badly potholed and patched top section of Richmond Hill. I regularly cycle round Richmond Park and feel very safe on the road surfaces. Just as on any other roads, dirt and gravel can be washed on to the surface by heavy rain, so cyclists need to be wary in such conditions. Broomfield Hill is a fast curving downhill section, and my advice to other cyclists is to ride in the middle of the lane and control speed approaching and around the fast bend. Do not ride at the edge of the road where the road cambers away, there might be gravel and there is no margin for error. It's definitely not advisable to try and match David Weir's speed of 35mph down there (ref this month's Richmond Mag)! twickeman
  • Score: 10

2:13am Sat 30 Aug 14

sazmeister88 says...

I can absolutely relate to this. I nearly came off my bike a few months ago near Kingston Gate going downhill (nowhere near 35mph!); there was so much loose gravel at the bottom of the slope that when the path turned I skidded and had to stick my leg out to stop the bike going over! I felt sick when I first heard about this poor cyclist's death. A fatality might - for now - be a one-off but loose gravel causing accidents obviously isn't. The cycle paths in the park are bumpy and congested enough without the gravel itself out to get us, sort it out!!
I can absolutely relate to this. I nearly came off my bike a few months ago near Kingston Gate going downhill (nowhere near 35mph!); there was so much loose gravel at the bottom of the slope that when the path turned I skidded and had to stick my leg out to stop the bike going over! I felt sick when I first heard about this poor cyclist's death. A fatality might - for now - be a one-off but loose gravel causing accidents obviously isn't. The cycle paths in the park are bumpy and congested enough without the gravel itself out to get us, sort it out!! sazmeister88
  • Score: -5

2:01pm Sat 30 Aug 14

Tulyar says...

I think the reports initially emerging of a 15mph crash are a bit naieve I cruise on a bike loaded with shopping or tools at 16-17mph and stamping down on the pedals can roll along at 20-25 mph, before I run out of gearing (spin-out).

What is unlikely to appear as an outcome, is a proper impartial and published investigation which will identify ALL causal factors, and deliver a series of recommendations to prevent the same thing happening again. This happens for rail, air and maritime crashes, but fails miserably for the roads network. However as this happened in a Royal Park, and the roads are possibly not adopted and managed by the local roads authority, the flawed Section 39 system (where the investigation is done by the council who then tell themselves what is wrong and instruct themselves on what to do to remedy matters) may not apply. It may instead be a case for the Health & Safety Commission as a section 3 incident involving a member of the public on their property. This would have the benefit of being an independent investigation and potentially enforceable action to remove the hazard (loose gravel on corners) or reduce the risk (road signage and layout), by reducing speeds and turning action on gravel.

The rider was wearing a helmet and it is perhaps a detail to reflect on - another rider I know was a diligent helmet wearer who is now in a wheelchair after (it is believed) he struck a kerb edge, sufficiently raised to deflect the front wheel. Rotational injuries where the upper spine (C1-C5) is forced round, back or worse causes serious damage and can be enhanced by badly worn or designed helmets, as can the injuries inside the cranium where the brain, 'floating in its natural 'hard shell' is violently accelerated or hits the bone, ripping blood vessels, nerve connections, getting bruised, and otherwise damaged.

With a thorough and objective investigation there is lot to learn whcih can reduce the risk of a repeat event. I hope we get one.
I think the reports initially emerging of a 15mph crash are a bit naieve I cruise on a bike loaded with shopping or tools at 16-17mph and stamping down on the pedals can roll along at 20-25 mph, before I run out of gearing (spin-out). What is unlikely to appear as an outcome, is a proper impartial and published investigation which will identify ALL causal factors, and deliver a series of recommendations to prevent the same thing happening again. This happens for rail, air and maritime crashes, but fails miserably for the roads network. However as this happened in a Royal Park, and the roads are possibly not adopted and managed by the local roads authority, the flawed Section 39 system (where the investigation is done by the council who then tell themselves what is wrong and instruct themselves on what to do to remedy matters) may not apply. It may instead be a case for the Health & Safety Commission as a section 3 incident involving a member of the public on their property. This would have the benefit of being an independent investigation and potentially enforceable action to remove the hazard (loose gravel on corners) or reduce the risk (road signage and layout), by reducing speeds and turning action on gravel. The rider was wearing a helmet and it is perhaps a detail to reflect on - another rider I know was a diligent helmet wearer who is now in a wheelchair after (it is believed) he struck a kerb edge, sufficiently raised to deflect the front wheel. Rotational injuries where the upper spine (C1-C5) is forced round, back or worse causes serious damage and can be enhanced by badly worn or designed helmets, as can the injuries inside the cranium where the brain, 'floating in its natural 'hard shell' is violently accelerated or hits the bone, ripping blood vessels, nerve connections, getting bruised, and otherwise damaged. With a thorough and objective investigation there is lot to learn whcih can reduce the risk of a repeat event. I hope we get one. Tulyar
  • Score: -5

9:49am Mon 1 Sep 14

CyclistsPayTaxToo says...

Tulyar wrote:
I think the reports initially emerging of a 15mph crash are a bit naieve I cruise on a bike loaded with shopping or tools at 16-17mph and stamping down on the pedals can roll along at 20-25 mph, before I run out of gearing (spin-out).

What is unlikely to appear as an outcome, is a proper impartial and published investigation which will identify ALL causal factors, and deliver a series of recommendations to prevent the same thing happening again. This happens for rail, air and maritime crashes, but fails miserably for the roads network. However as this happened in a Royal Park, and the roads are possibly not adopted and managed by the local roads authority, the flawed Section 39 system (where the investigation is done by the council who then tell themselves what is wrong and instruct themselves on what to do to remedy matters) may not apply. It may instead be a case for the Health & Safety Commission as a section 3 incident involving a member of the public on their property. This would have the benefit of being an independent investigation and potentially enforceable action to remove the hazard (loose gravel on corners) or reduce the risk (road signage and layout), by reducing speeds and turning action on gravel.

The rider was wearing a helmet and it is perhaps a detail to reflect on - another rider I know was a diligent helmet wearer who is now in a wheelchair after (it is believed) he struck a kerb edge, sufficiently raised to deflect the front wheel. Rotational injuries where the upper spine (C1-C5) is forced round, back or worse causes serious damage and can be enhanced by badly worn or designed helmets, as can the injuries inside the cranium where the brain, 'floating in its natural 'hard shell' is violently accelerated or hits the bone, ripping blood vessels, nerve connections, getting bruised, and otherwise damaged.

With a thorough and objective investigation there is lot to learn whcih can reduce the risk of a repeat event. I hope we get one.
I disagree completely.

This is a tragic accident, but lets leave it at that. Why the need to apportion blame all the time.

As a cyclist you are more succeptable to variances in carriageway surface, be it debris, pot-holes, standing water etc... generally speaking (and in no way an opinion on what happened here) you have to ride on the assumption you will encounter such things, and be prepared to deal with them. If this were a case of neglect on behalf of the Parks I would be behind you, but RP is very well maintained.
[quote][p][bold]Tulyar[/bold] wrote: I think the reports initially emerging of a 15mph crash are a bit naieve I cruise on a bike loaded with shopping or tools at 16-17mph and stamping down on the pedals can roll along at 20-25 mph, before I run out of gearing (spin-out). What is unlikely to appear as an outcome, is a proper impartial and published investigation which will identify ALL causal factors, and deliver a series of recommendations to prevent the same thing happening again. This happens for rail, air and maritime crashes, but fails miserably for the roads network. However as this happened in a Royal Park, and the roads are possibly not adopted and managed by the local roads authority, the flawed Section 39 system (where the investigation is done by the council who then tell themselves what is wrong and instruct themselves on what to do to remedy matters) may not apply. It may instead be a case for the Health & Safety Commission as a section 3 incident involving a member of the public on their property. This would have the benefit of being an independent investigation and potentially enforceable action to remove the hazard (loose gravel on corners) or reduce the risk (road signage and layout), by reducing speeds and turning action on gravel. The rider was wearing a helmet and it is perhaps a detail to reflect on - another rider I know was a diligent helmet wearer who is now in a wheelchair after (it is believed) he struck a kerb edge, sufficiently raised to deflect the front wheel. Rotational injuries where the upper spine (C1-C5) is forced round, back or worse causes serious damage and can be enhanced by badly worn or designed helmets, as can the injuries inside the cranium where the brain, 'floating in its natural 'hard shell' is violently accelerated or hits the bone, ripping blood vessels, nerve connections, getting bruised, and otherwise damaged. With a thorough and objective investigation there is lot to learn whcih can reduce the risk of a repeat event. I hope we get one.[/p][/quote]I disagree completely. This is a tragic accident, but lets leave it at that. Why the need to apportion blame all the time. As a cyclist you are more succeptable to variances in carriageway surface, be it debris, pot-holes, standing water etc... generally speaking (and in no way an opinion on what happened here) you have to ride on the assumption you will encounter such things, and be prepared to deal with them. If this were a case of neglect on behalf of the Parks I would be behind you, but RP is very well maintained. CyclistsPayTaxToo
  • Score: 12

1:19pm Mon 1 Sep 14

little smiff says...

Tragic and very sad story but why the need to apportion blame? It is possible for a series of, seemingly, unrelated events cna result in an accident.

Also, as chief reporter, Laura Proto should know the difference between "break" and brake.
Tragic and very sad story but why the need to apportion blame? It is possible for a series of, seemingly, unrelated events cna result in an accident. Also, as chief reporter, Laura Proto should know the difference between "break" and brake. little smiff
  • Score: 7

1:21pm Mon 1 Sep 14

little smiff says...

Oops! Pot and kettle. Just spotted my own typo.
Oops! Pot and kettle. Just spotted my own typo. little smiff
  • Score: 2

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