Policeman’s cycle ride death a ‘tragic accident’

tis. Harrogate Magistrates Court. 311208ARpic14.
tis. Harrogate Magistrates Court. 311208ARpic14.

A charity cycle ride through Nidderdale ended in tragedy when an off-duty policeman lost control and crashed into a tree near an “accident blackspot”, an inquest has heard.

Peter Parchment, 49, had been on a coast-to-coast cycle ride with fellow Nottinghamshire police officers in memory of a former colleague.

He was killed almost instantly after the crash on Greenhow Hill near Pateley Bridge in April this year.

Assistant coroner Geoff Fell, hearing pleas for more warning signs on this busy and popular cycle route, has now pledged to write ‘informally’ to the Highways Authority.

“Sadly, on this occasion, Peter lost control and collided with a tree,” he said. “It seems to me this was an error of judgement on Peter’s part. But I will write to the authority to ask them to monitor the situation.”

The coroner heard how experienced cyclist Peter, with several colleagues, had completed the cycle ride once before and knew the route. They had even discussed the steepness of the bank, with a gradient of 14 per cent, the night before Mr Parchment was killed. But, shortly after 10am on the morning of April 24, they went down the hill on their way from Grassington to Pateley Bridge.

Fellow cyclist Mick Eaton, estimating they were travelling at 25mph, said it happened “in a split second”.

“I saw his front wheel hit the edge of the road and I saw it wiggle as he lost control,” he said. “Pete virtually flew through the air and hit the tree. It doesn’t seem that sharp a bend. I’ve revisited this many, many times. But my view is that Pete’s speed and line was wrong for the bend. He was too fast.”

Another friend, travelling ahead with a support van for the riders, told the court he had once worn out a set of break pads on that same hill.

And a third cyclist, giving evidence, said: “It is dangerous. It felt like we were climbing into the clouds. There should be more warning this is an accident blackspot.”

The coroner heard how passengers in a passing car, seeing Mr Eaton waving his arms, stopped to help, giving CPR at the scene as they waited for an ambulance. But, the coroner was told, Mr Parchment would have been killed almost instantly.

Mr Fell, ruling the death a “tragic accident”, said just three accidents had been reported on the road in recent years.

“I’m not convinced that increasing signage would improve anything,” he said. “But I am happy to write informally to the Highways Authority to ask them to look again at what steps might be taken.”