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Grieving dads plea on cyclists

Cambridge News: Grieving dad’s plea on cyclists

suzan.uzel@cambridge-news.co.uk

THE father of a cyclist killed by a teenage motorist has welcomed her conviction – and has called for greater recognition of cyclists on the roads.

Katie Hart, 19, struck Major Gareth Rhys-Evans at 70mph on the southbound A1 near Eaton Ford as he was taking part in a 25-mile time trial.

The married 37-year-old father-of-two was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived at the scene on May 3 last year, during the Icknield Road Club event.

Hart, of Little Paxton, had admitted causing death by careless driving but denied causing death by dangerous driving. But a jury returned a unanimous verdict, finding her guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. She was told she could face up to five years in jail.

In a letter to the News, Glyn Rhys-Evans, the victim’s father, said he and his wife welcomed the verdict and wished to thank Cambridgeshire police for their “determination and care” in ensuring justice was done for their son.

Mr Rhys-Evans particularly thanked Pc Kevin Drury for his “great support” to the family, “full of sound advice and counsel”.

Mr Rhys-Evans says it is “a matter of considerable importance” that the climate of cycling should be positive and supportive.

He says there is still “a huge amount of opposition” towards cyclists in the UK, adding that their presence on the roads is frequently seen as an obstacle and a nuisance to other road users.

Mr Rhys-Evans said: “This is a situation which is rapidly becoming intolerable, and a change in this prevailing climate of antipathy must be made, by encouragement where possible but punishment when necessary.

“It may well be that my son’s case becomes a landmark along the path towards greater recognition being given towards cyclists in this country, and that the procedures followed by the Cambridgeshire police and the CPS in successfully bringing his case to court be held up as an example of good practice for other police forces to follow. If so, then Gareth’s death may prove not to have been in vain.”

A spokeswoman from Cambridgeshire police said: “This was a tragic case and we are always grateful to hear that our work has had a positive impact on a bereaved family.

“Family liaison officers play a crucial role in the investigation of fatal collisions providing support to families in a sensitive, caring and professional manner.”

Sally Guyer, press and publicity officer at Cambridge Cycling Campaign, said the campaign endorsed Mr Rhys-Evans’ comments.

She said: “We would like to see all roads users being trained and being made aware of and more considerate to other road users, for example, driving tests could require drivers to spend a day cycling in traffic as part of the test process. Many people on bikes are motorists who choose to cycle both as a sport and as their preferred method of transport.

“Personally, I know that I am a better motorist because I cycle and a better cyclist because I drive. In Holland and Denmark many people are motorists who cycle and we need to go down that route in the UK, both for sports cyclists and commuter cyclists, in order to make our roads safer for all.”

Judge Nicholas Coleman banned Hart from driving and granted her bail on condition she lives at her home until she is sentenced at Huntingdon Crown Court during the week beginning February 15.