Cyclist had warned of dangers at fatal junction

First published in News

An experienced road cyclist who died in an accident had previously highlighted the dangers faced by riders at the junction where he was killed, it has been revealed.

Stuart Holdsworth, from Langcliffe, died last October when he was in collision with a car towing a caravan on the A65 at Gildersleets.

A coroner said he believed Stuart, who was cycling in the same direction as the car, turned right into the path of the vehicle as he made his way home following a ride.

Stuart, who was secretary of Settle cycling club the World-Wide Wheelers (WWW), was said to have been a safety stalwart who instilled the potential dangers of the roads to younger riders.

Ironically, his death happened at a junction which he and fellow WWW club member and friend David Holdsworth (no relation) had already identified as dangerous as part of an official consultation on cycling routes in Settle.

David said this week: “It is so ironic that Stuart should have been killed at this junction. It is one of the most dangerous on the A65 and not just for cyclists. I know someone who will not use that junction in his car and drives instead through Settle to get to Station Road instead of going the quicker route to Gildersleets.”

The report put together by the two men was in response to a Government initiative for cycling routes in the Settle and Giggleswick area.

They attended several meetings and their subsequent report highlighted the fact that the biggest problem was the danger of cycling on busy main roads, compounded by the threat of heavy lorries.

It also highlighted ways to create safer routes to schools.

“What was most disturbing is that we threw in an extra observation pointing out the serious danger at the Gildersleets junction, stating that routes should be developed which allow the A65 to be crossed safely, specifically at this point,” said David.

“There are at least three tunnels under the A65 which could be used for new, safe routes.

“We suggested opening up the old road almost directly across from the Rathmell road end, which would reduce the risk of having to linger in the centre of the road.

“I’ve been trying to get the highways department to come and look at this point for themselves with a group of cyclists.

“The old road is still classed as a public road and would be a much safer option than the present option, which is either turning left and cycling up the left-hand side of the road – as Stuart was apparently doing the day he was killed – to the junction and then crossing, or going into the centre of the road.

“This is very disturbing when you are on a bicycle because you have fast traffic passing you on both sides.

“At one time these staggered junctions were popular. They are cheaper to create, but they pose a huge danger.

“They (the highways department) have come up with all sorts of schemes, including having central reservations which cost a lot of money and they don’t do anything.

“I think the people taking decisions have cars and have not tried to cycle over that junction.

“If our suggestions had been taken up and the old road re-opened for cyclists to cross to when we first proposed it, Stuart would still be alive today,” said David.

The highways department has said a scheme to reopen the old road for cyclists to cross from Rathmell to Gildersleets is currently in the system.

Ken Martin, for North Yorkshire Highways, said he expected to know by the end of the financial year whether funding for this would be secured.

If successful, he would meet David Holdsworth and other members of the World Wide Wheelers to discuss the layout.

The safer route could be in place by next summer.

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