Mike Hall: Coroner’s Report Makes Recommendations For Safety Improvements

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The Coroner of the ACT Australian Capital Territory) Magistrates Court, Bernadette Boss, has published her report on the inquest into Mike Hall’s death. The endurance cyclist and Singletrack Legend award winner was killed early in the morning of the final stage of the Indian Pacific Wheel Race in March 2017.

Mike Hall
Mike Hall bossing the Blue Pig on bald tyres and a rigid bike.

Bicycling Australia has published the report in full. It includes the finding that Mike’s injuries would have resulted in almost instant death, and concludes:

“Mr Hall’s death was avoidable, which makes the loss of this remarkable person even more keenly felt by his family and the community. It is unfortunate that the investigation into his death has been to some degree compromised by the loss of significant evidence in the form of his clothing and bicycle accoutrements. There is, however, sufficient evidence for his death to be the catalyst for changes that will enhance rider safety into the future.”

The lost evidence mentioned refers to the fact that the police did not retain various items of clothing and equipment belonging to Mike. There is a lengthy examination of how visible Mike would have been to a driver, and it is suggested that his rear light might have been confused with reflective markers on the side of the road. The coroner makes a number of recommendations aimed at improving rider safety, including one that flashing rear lights should be compulsory to avoid potential confusion with road furniture:

(a) The ACT Government should conduct a review of the intersection of the Monaro Highway and Williamsdale Road to evaluate risk to road users, and a reassessment of funding priority in accordance with the review’s findings.

(b) The ACT Government should define a clear outline of what constitutes a major intersection on the ACT portion of the Monaro Highway.

(c) The ACT Government should give consideration to the speed limits that should apply to major intersections along the ACT section of the Monaro Highway.

(d) Standards Australia should conduct a review of AS3562-1990 relating to bicycle lighting, and the Standard be either updated or replaced.

(e) The ACT Government should amend its relevant legislation to require a flashing rear light when riding a bicycle in low light conditions on rural roads. However, I also commend this recommendation to all Australian State and Territory Governments, for consideration of changes to the Australian Road Rules.

(f) The ACT Government should amend its relevant legislation to clarify whether bicycles require a wholly separate reflector to be on the back of the bicycle, or whether the reflector may be integrated into the rear light. However, I also commend this recommendation to all Australian State and Territory Governments, for consideration of changes to the Australian Road Rules.

#BeMoreMike

Mike’s death shocked us all, and led to the call to ‘Be More Mike’, with many rides being done in his memory. Hannah joined Mike’s friends for Mike’s last journey, where people were invited to dot watch #MikesLastDot as Mike’s ashes were carried from Yorkshire to Wales. You can read Hannah’s take on what Mike’s legacy meant to her here.

Hannah Dobson

Hannah came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. Having worked in policy and project management roles at the Scottish Parliament and in local government, Hannah had organisational skills that SIngletrack needed. She also likes bikes, and likes to write.

Hannah likes all bikes, but especially unusual ones. If it’s a bit odd, or a bit niche, or made of metal, she’s probably going to get excited. If it gets her down some steep stuff, all the better. She’ll give most things a go once, she tries not to say no to anything on a bike, unless she really thinks it’s going to hurt. She’s pretty good with steri-strips.

More than bikes, Hannah likes what bikes do. She thinks that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments.

Hannah tries to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

Comments (6)

    This was a heartbreaking episode, and it is a reminder that we are all vulnerable. That someone with such great experience of cycling was killed was a huge shock.
    Richard Ballantyne in Richard’s Bicycle Book made the suggestion that in the dark cyclists should look like “an extrovert Christmas tree gone mad”. As one who walks, cycles and drives on the road, I have seen that when walking and riding the world seems a very bright and visible place, and yet from a car walkers and cyclists are very difficult to see. I am astonished at how many road cyclists wear black clothing, and with wide availability of cheap rear LED lights now many have no lights.

    I am astonished at how many road cyclists wear black clothing,

    I think it stems from a sense that it is not for the cyclist to ensure the car driver doesn’t hit them, but rather for the car driver to take adequate care not to.

    Whilst that may technically be correct, my view is if you can make yourself more visible quickly, cheaply and easily and that might lessen your chances of being in a collision, why would you not?

    “I think it stems from a sense that it is not for the cyclist to ensure the car driver doesn’t hit them, but rather for the car driver to take adequate care not to.”

    Which is true, but to be extremely flippant, is not an argument worth dying over.

    Not this debate again. You can have offensively bright lights, primary riding position, and a fully reflective jacket (with the breathability of a binbag) – none of it will make any difference if a driver is distracted or impaired, and traveling at a much higher speed than you. And none of these so-called safety measures encourage people to cycle, or challenge the mainstream narrative around road safety that it’s up to the victim to protect themselves.

    Mr Agreeable is correct. If the driver is not paying attention, then all the attention aids/hi viz won’t work. The driver can simply say post collision, “the rider didn’t have their lights on” and now part of the blame will be shifted to the cyclist.

    Cyclists and motorcyclists have been battling this for decades. If a driver does not perceive a rider to be a threat or a valid road user, their brains can subconsciously filter them out. It has many names “SMIDSY” is one of them. “Sorry Mate, I didn’t See You”. There’s a few other cognitive processes going on as well. How can this be changed? Road user campaigns, adverts explaining the rights of cycle riders, encouraging children to ride (this plays into the driver’s subconscious – that rider could be my child sort of thing), shutting down the “cars v bikes” arguments, policing roads, better design and better training for all road users. Expensive? Maybe. Cheaper than the cost to the community of obesity and the death of a valued member of the community.

    I do make myself visible when riding on the road. From my motorbike days, I adopt the attitude that all car drivers have not seen me. Car drivers need to increase their awareness of other more vulnerable road users. If I am expected to wear hi viz, a helmet, use lights etc, then the other side of the contract is that motor vehicle drivers pay attention and look out for us.

    This is why I ride MTB in the mud – riding on the road is like playing Russian roulette

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