Huge pothole contributed to cyclist’s tragic death

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A cyclist died after a “tragic accident” involving a huge pothole on an A-road near Market Rasen, an inquest has been told.

Christian Brown from Kirton Lindsey rode over a pothole on the A631 in North Willingham at about 17mph during a group cycle ride from Scunthorpe to Mablethorpe on February 12, 2013.

The inquest, held in Spilsby on Friday, heard how the front wheel came off Mr Brown’s bike after hitting the pothole.

The 40-year-old was thrown from his bike and suffered serious head injuries. He was airlifted to Hull Royal Infirmary but died six days later.

Mr Brown was at the rear of the group of riders, who each took it in turns to lead the pack as they rode in single file. Richard Stenton was the lead rider as the group travelled along the A631.

The inquest heard how Mr Stenton saw a pothole in the road and shouted ‘hole’ to the group to warn them to move out of the way. The second rider Stephen Clark managed to avoid the pothole.

The third rider David Marshall could not avoid it and rode over the pothole but stayed on his bike.

The front three riders heard a crash behind them and realised Mr Brown had come off his bike.

In a statement, witness Mary Barnet, said she saw a bike wheel bounce across the road.

The inquest heard how the pothole, which measured about two feet across, had been spotted during Lincolnshire County Council’s monthly road check on January 7. But it was missed during a check on February 11, the day before Mr Brown’s accident.

Road safety accident investigation manager at Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership Alan Ball confirmed the inspection took place the day before.

Mr Ball also said the pothole had been spotted during the January check but it was not dangerous enough to warrant an immediate repair.

Expert witness Dr Howard Taylor - a staff member at Manchester Metropolitan University’s School of Engineering - told the inquest how he found there was no sign of the wheel being ripped away from the spoke which was holding it in place - suggesting it was loose enough to come out.

Dr Taylor explained lips on the spokes are designed to stop the wheel from becoming detached when it is fully tightened, but he did not examine any signs of forced removal from the spokes following the accident.

PC Hamilton, who attended the scene, noted that the road was in generally good condition.

Assistant coroner Richard Marshall recorded a narrative verdict saying both the pothole and looseness of the wheel were to blame for Mr Brown’s death.

Mr Marshall said the presence of the pothole and degree of looseness in the front wheel of the bike each had some degree of causation in the tragedy that ensued.

Mr Marshall made the suggestion that when future inspections are carried out that the inspector in charge takes a report of previous inspections out with them to avoid the possibility of missing any potholes as a result of adverse weather conditions.