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‘There was no action the HGV driver could have done to avoid the collision’

A WOMAN on a charity cycle ride was killed instantly when she fell off her bike into the path of a heavy goods lorry, an inquest heard. Susan Smith, 55, was part way through a 124-mile ride along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal when the fatal accident happened in Skipton Road, Colne, on September 21 last year. Miss Smith, from Wallasey, Merseyside, who was a manager at Marks and Spencer, had organised the ride in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

She and four colleagues and friends had travelled by train to Leeds and had cycled around 80 miles that day, stopping for lunch in Skipton. At around 2.25pm the party had left the canal after struggling to ride on grassy towpaths and had made a decision to head to Colne railway station to make up part of the journey, the hearing was told. One of the other riders, Neil Drummond, told the hearing he was riding behind Miss Smith, who he described as ‘an experienced and competent cyclist’.

He told the court they were all riding on the pavement on an upward incline close to Langroyd Road when he saw her bike wobble and then her left handlebar struck a dry stone wall causing her to overbalance and fall between the cab unit and the trailer of the lorry, which was part way through passing her. PC John Birch said he had examined the MAN articulated goods vehicle involved and Miss Smith’s bike and there were no contributing mechanical factors. He said: “A tachograph reading showed the lorry was travelling at 18mph and was 1.1 metres from the kerb.

“There was no action the HGV driver could have done to avoid the collision.” Recording a conclusion that Miss Smith died in a road traffic accident, coroner Richard Taylor, said: “This started as a day full of enthusiasm to undertake this significant challenge organised by herself.” “It seems she lost her balance and the bike wobbled as a result of low speed on the upward incline combined with fatigue from the ride.”

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the fundraising target of ?515 shot to more than ?2,500, with many donations coming from people in the Pendle area.

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