‘Action must be taken’ to prevent further deaths at South Yorkshire cycle race

David Worthington
David Worthington

Organisers of a mass-participation cycling event where a rider died following a collision with a coach have been ordered to take action to prevent further deaths in future years.

David Worthington, 51, was taking part in a race along with around 3,000 other riders on April 30 last year, when the crash happened near Penistone, South Yorkshire.

Sheffield Senior Coroner Christopher Dorries.

Sheffield Senior Coroner Christopher Dorries.

An inquest in Sheffield heard how the annual event, which is an opportunity for amateur cycliss to ride part of the Tour de Yorkshire route ahead of the professionals, took place on roads which remained opened to traffic.

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Senior coroner Christoper Dorries recorded a narrative conclusion last month, saying Mr Worthington had been travelling at about 30mph to 35mph when he collided with the coach as he rounded a ‘limited visibility bend’.

Mr Dorries has now written to race organisers Human Race stating he thought there was ‘a risk future deaths will occur unless action is taken’.

He said the junction of Plank Gate on to Finkle Street Lane, where Mr Worthington hit a coach which had been forced to turn around due to a low bridge near Wortley, was not indentified as a ‘risk’ in organisers’ risk assessment.

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Mr Dorries said: “The risk assessment prior to the event had not identified the particular location as a risk. In many ways this is understandable, Plank Gate is a minor junction.

“However, more detailed consideration might be thought to show a different picture. There were 2,900 cyclists progressing swiftly down a lengthy descent into a blind bend.

“The organisers efforts in putting a ‘slow’ sign part way down the descent were, on the evidence of witnesses, largely ignored.

“Whilst the risk of a vehicle leaving Plank Gate across the path of fast-moving cyclists might reasonable have been considered low, the other element of a risk assessment is the likelihood of injury if such an event did occur.

“The risk of harm, as identified by this collision, was extremely high.”

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The inquest heard how Mr Worthington was just over an hour into his ride when he was in collision with the coach on Finkle Street Lane, near Wortley.

The bus had reversed into a lane on the side of the road and was in the process of turning back out onto the road when Mr Worthington’s bike ploughed into its side.

The cyclist, from Ackworth near Pontefract, died in hospital six days later.

Mr Dorries added: “In my respectful submission there is room for a review of the risk assessment methods used for future events. As this incident shows, unlikely events can and do occur and where the risk of harm is high proper consideration is essential.”