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St Austell cyclist Mark Collings died after being hit by a car in thick fog

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: January 30, 2014

TRAGIC DEATH: Matthew Collings.

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THE FAMILY of a cyclist from St Austell, who was killed after being hit by a car in thick fog, have made an emotional plea for all cycle users to wear helmets to prevent future tragedies on the roads.

Matthew Collings, 36, who had worked at the Eden Project for ten years, died from multiple injuries after a collision on Boscoppa Road on November 16, 2012.

The inquest into his death, at Truro Coroner's Court on Monday, heard that Mr Collings was not wearing a helmet at the time.

Nicola Glass, the driver of the car involved in the collision, told the court her visibility was reduced by rain and fog as she drove her two children to the school bus stop just before 7am.

"It was rainy and foggy and dark," she said. "We were going along and my son shouted 'look out'. It was about a second or two before we collided."

Police forensic collision investigator PC Paul Frost said the rear light on Mr Collings' bicycle may have been defective and investigators had not been able to locate a rear reflector on the bike or at the scene.

Mrs Glass and Antony Jenna, a motorist who had seen Mr Collings shortly before the collision, told the court they did not seen any lights on the bike.

The court was told that Mr Collings, a horticulturist, was wearing dark clothing and was not wearing any protective equipment when the collision took place.

"In my opinion, the head injuries could have been significantly reduced if Mr Collings was wearing a cycling helmet," Mr Frost said.

Pathologist Juliane Stolte recorded the cause of death as multiple injuries caused by a road traffic collision.

Describing Mr Collings' death as a tragedy, assistant coroner for Cornwall Barrie Van Den Berg passed on his condolences to the family. "No matter how many of these accidents you look at, it's always a tragedy," he said.

Recording the cause of death as a road traffic collision, Mr Van Den Berg said the collision was "probably completely unavoidable in the circumstances".

Following the inquest into their brother's death, Gemma and Simon Collings urged all cyclists to wear helmets and reflective clothing while on the roads.

In a joint statement they said: "We lost a very special person in our lives who will be very sadly missed. We urge all cyclists to wear helmets and reflective clothing when out on the roads which may prevent something like this from happening again. We would also like the council to consider lighting that stretch of road."

Speaking after the inquest, field collision investigator MPC Neil Sullivan reiterated the family's plea for cyclists to follow safety guidelines set out in the Highway Code.

"We'll never know whether a helmet would have made any difference in this instance but the highway code does tell us that in the event of a collision of this kind the chance of serious injury can be significantly reduced by wearing an approved safety helmet," he said.

"My own recommendation to any cyclist is to wear a helmet at all times, wear reflective clothing at all times, make sure your lights are on and your reflectors are clean. Be safe and be seen."

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  • coshgirl  |  January 30 2014, 4:41PM

    RIP Mark Collings. I'm afraid the family are wrong on this matter, cycle helmets are not designed to protect cyclists from collisions with motor vehicles. They are designed for low impact, low speed collisions of less than 10-12mph. No helmet manufacturer in the world would claim their product 'saves lives'. Indeed, countless cyclists die from head injuries caused by motorists - despite wearing all the 'safety equipment'. Cycle organisations and campaigners are all too aware that helmets are a safety red herring, and merely reinforce the ignorant, victim-blaming carcentric culture of this country. If the family really want to improve conditions for cyclists in this country they would be far far better directing their efforts by campaigning for proper, segregated space for cycling. Just look overseas to the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. Millions of cyclists of all ages in normal clothes, while there are far fewer injuries and deaths per mile pedalled. Why? It's the conditions people ride in. By contrast, Australia and New Zealand, where helmets have been compulsory since the early '90s remain two of the most dangerous places in the world to ride a bike in. Infrastructure 'saves lives', helmets don't.

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