‘A safety barrier would have saved Tim’s life’: Family urge action after cyclist’s tragic death

Tim Atkins, who was killed while cycling on Eastern Road in Portsmouth
Tim Atkins, who was killed while cycling on Eastern Road in Portsmouth
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FAMILY of a cyclist who suffered fatal head injuries when he fell into a busy road after colliding with another cyclist have said: ‘A barrier would have saved him.’

Tim Atkins’ brother Mark and sister Joanna spoke out after a coroner at an inquest said the 48-year-old’s death on June 2 was a ‘tragic’ accident.

Joanna and Mark Atkins, Tim Atkins sister and brother

Joanna and Mark Atkins, Tim Atkins sister and brother

Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Atkins was cycling north on the Eastern Road from his home in Kingsley Road, Southsea, to Havant for work at 5.28pm.

But as he travelled around a corner outside the Harvester pub on the narrow shared pedestrian and cyclist pathway he collided with Thomas Fyall who was heading south.

The pair ‘touched shoulders’ with Mr Fyall falling towards the hedge while Mr Atkins fell into the road.

He suffered multiple head fractures after hitting the rear of a south-bound Ford Transit in Eastern Road driven by John Nicols, who was pulling away at traffic lights.

The aftermath of the accident

The aftermath of the accident

Despite CPR from another driver, Junior Davies, Mr Atkins died at the roadside.

Coroner David Horsley today ruled the death an accident but vowed to write to Portsmouth City Council over the ‘pinch point’ after hearing more could be done to ensure its safety.

Giving evidence about the spot and the hedge, collision investigator PC Emma Clifford told the inquest ‘due to obscured view and narrow path neither cyclist would have seen each other immediately prior’ to the collision.

Now Mr Atkins’ brother Mark, 56, of Chichester, wants urgent action.

He said: ‘If there had been a 20ft-long pedestrian barrier where the traffic lights are Tim would still be here.

‘They lightly bumped into each other on the bikes and because there was no barrier Tim just fell into the road.

‘They (the council) failed in their duty of care.’

Joanna said: ‘They need to take action.’

No other accidents have been reported but family say minor ones wouldn’t be.

Mark added: ‘We in no way blame the driver or other cyclist.

‘We just want to make it safe so no other families don’t have to go through what we’ve been through.’

Both cyclist Mr Fyall, who was riding a Carrera Zelos 14-gear racing bike, and van driver Mr Nicols wept as they gave evidence yesterday.

‘I went to stop and even tried to get out the way if I could and we just touched shoulders, a small cycle accident – it’s just the consequences,’ he told the inquest.

He added he ‘wouldn’t even say (it was) seconds’ between seeing Mr Atkins, who was riding a Carrera Crossfire mountain bike, and the crash.

He went to help Mr Atkins, who had not been wearing a helmet, as did nearby driver Mr Davies, who was thanked by the family for giving CPR.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death Mr Horsley said Mr Atkins suffered ‘unsurvivable’ head injuries.

COUNCIL SAYS IT IS IMPROVING ROUTE

IMPROVEMENTS are underway to ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, a senior councillor has said,

Following Tim Atkins’ tragic death Portsmouth City Council cut back the hedge at the corner of the narrow cycle and pedestrian path.

It was given permission to do so by Harbour Caravan Park site, which owns the hedge.

The route met all relevant standards when it was introduced, the council said.

Cllr Simon Bosher, cabinet member for traffic transportation, said the council’s ‘condolences are with Tim Atkins’ family and friends’.

He said plans are ‘underway to make improvements to this part of the Eastern Road in the coming months’ but that ‘we will obviously give serious consideration to any requests the coroner makes’.

The council is set to move the kerb line to improve visibility and widen the cycleway, make changes to the cycle lane marking and reposition the existing traffic lights at the junction.