07 March 2014
Pothole Caused Death of Cyclist on Charity Bike Ride
The wife of a cyclist killed after hitting a pothole during a charity bike ride has slammed council bosses for failing to maintain the road.
Martyn Uzzell, 51, was riding along the A65 Settle Bypass at Giggleswick with two friends as part of a fundraising cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
Mr Uzzell was travelling on the road when he hit a pothole and was thrown into the path of an on-coming car. He died instantly.
His heartbroken wife Kate Uzzell, 47, has condemned North Yorkshire County Council for allowing the road to fall into disrepair, claiming it cost her husband his life.
Mrs Uzzell from Clevedon in Somerset said, “It is simply disgraceful that a pothole on such a busy road was allowed to go unrepaired. This should not have happened.
“My husband was an experienced cyclist and was out doing what he loved while raising money for charities close to his heart but it has cost him his life. I am told a policeman had reported the pothole on two occasions to the council but nothing was done. The road was also inspected monthly as it’s an A road but despite the danger being recorded in May it wasn’t repaired.
“To make it worse there was another inspection in June carried out in a vehicle going at 25mph down the other side of the three lane carriageway. No attempt was made to check an already identified defect, how can this be acceptable?”
She added, “Ultimately my husband lost his life because the council did not repair this pothole despite being warned it was a potential danger and I would like to know why something wasn’t done. I do not want anyone else to lose a loved one because the roads have not been properly maintained.”
At the time of the accident Martyn Uzzell was at the back of group of three cyclists, including his brother-in-law, during a charity cycle ride in June 2011. The kind-hearted trio had decided to undertake the gruelling challenge to ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and local charity Springboard.
Mr Uzzell was riding at the back of the group as they made their way in single file along the A65 at Giggleswick when they were forced to avoid a 6.5cm - 10.5 cm pothole in the road.
Experienced cyclist Mr Uzzell hit the pothole and lost control of his bicycle, falling into the path of an on-coming car. The car, which was travelling at about 50mph and only a car’s length away from the group, was unable to avoid the stricken cyclist who suffered severe head injuries and died at the scene.
Evidence obtained during the police investigation revealed that Mr Uzzell and his group had cycled competently, travelling at a reasonable speed with a good distance from one another and wearing appropriate clothing.
The pothole which caused the accident appeared to be a longstanding defect which, despite it having been reported to the North Yorkshire County Council and the area having been inspected by council workers in the weeks before the fatal accident, it had not been repaired.
However a review by the Crown Persecution Service (CPS) concluded that any failings by the council to repair the road fell outside of the scope of any potential criminal sanctions such as corporate manslaughter. The decision not to prosecute North Yorkshire County Council has left Mr Uzzell’s family devastated.
Mrs Uzzell said, “I was devastated when the CPS told me that they would not be prosecuting the council but I was not surprised. My husband has died yet it seems no one is being held to account as to how this was allowed to happen.
“My life has been devastated, I have lost my best friend and soul mate, a lovely person, who bought joy to my life, I am now lost and lonely without Martyn. And it isn’t just me, Martyn’s entire family is also suffering the loss of someone very special.
“I am now hoping the Inquest into his death will shed more light onto how this was allowed to happen and hopefully we can stop this from happening to someone else.”
Slater and Gordon Personal Injury Lawyer Richard Geraghty, who is representing Mrs Uzzell said, “This is a tragic incident which could have been avoided had the local authority made the necessary repairs to the road.
“Mr Uzzell was a careful rider but this tragic case shows that no matter how cautious you are, cyclists remain highly vulnerable on Britain’s roads if they are not correctly maintained.
“Highway authorities have a legal duty to maintain the roads so they are safe for all road users, which must include cyclists. Potholes are also a problem for motorists often damaging tyres and suspension, but for cyclists they are a major hazard which frequently results in serious injury and sometimes, as here, in fatalities”.
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