Speeding cyclist avoids conviction after crash that killed pensioner, 81, in Regent's Park

Regent’s Park is a hot spot for cyclists (PA)
Regent’s Park is a hot spot for cyclists (PA)

A cyclist involved in a fatal collision with an 81-year-old dog walker has avoided conviction despite exceeding speed limits on his ride.

Brian Fitzgerald, a director at Credit Suisse, crashed into Hilda Griffiths in June 2022 while doing laps of Regent’s Park with his Muswell Hill Peloton cycling club.

From the collision, the retired nursery teacher suffered bleeding in her brain, vomited blood and sustained several fractures. She died 59 days later and the incident was not given as the cause of her death.

Regent’s Park has a 20mph speed limit, but Mr Fitzgerald’s group had been averaging 25mph around the park and had even reached 29mph, according to GPS readings.

The Highway Code states that cyclists are exempt from needing to follow the national speed limit but can be prosecuted for cycling furiously or dangerously.

The Telegraph reported that police closed the case as there was little chance of a conviction.

Mr Fitzgerald told Inner West London Coroners Court this week that he had “zero reaction time” when he reached the traffic island where Ms Griffiths stepped out.

He said: “I believe legally the speed limit doesn’t apply to cyclists [the same] as motorists.”

He added: “I’ve never seen any police in the park having any objections to the speed cyclists travel at.”

Mr Fitzgerald expressed his “sympathies” to the family of Ms Griffiths.

He additionally said he was “unsure” if there were any road markings warning cyclists to slow down. A photo shown to the court showed there had been one on the approach.

However, Mr Fitzgerald said she had not looked when stepping out from the traffic island and this left only 2m for him to break to a halt from a speed of 25-29mph. A jogger who witnessed the incident backed up his account, saying it was not his fault.

Detective Sergeant Ropafadzo Bungo said the reason for the law is that “mechanically propelled vehicles have the ability to identify the speed one is actually moving at” and cyclists do, in most cases, not.

Gerard Griffiths, her son, told the coroners’ court: “With 35 or more cycling clubs with hundreds of members in the park, it was only a matter of time before tragic outcomes occurred.

“The laws are inadequate and need to change. If any other type of vehicles were travelling over the speed limit in that same formation – essentially tailgating – they would be committing an offence.”

Jean Harkin, the assistant coroner, recorded a verdict of “accidental cycling collision death”.

Cycling UK data showed that for an average between 2012 and 2022, 422 deaths were recorded as a result of a collision. Three (1 per cent) were as a result of a crash involving a pedal cycle.