'Something has to change': Son of pensioner who was killed in collision with speeding cyclist says deaths 'inevitable'

5 May 2024, 10:09 | Updated: 5 May 2024, 14:33

LBC speaks to son of pensioner killed in fatal collision with cyclist

By Will Conroy

The son of a pensioner who was killed after a collision with a speeding cyclist has told LBC that “something has to change” after there was no prosecution.

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Brian Fitzgerald, a vice president at Credit Suisse, avoided conviction because speed limits do not apply to cyclists in the same way as motorists, a court heard.

Mr Fitzgerald was doing laps of Regent’s Park as part of a “fast group” of cyclists when he collided with Hilder Griffiths, 81, who was crossing the road to a pedestrian island.

Despite the 20mph speed limit, Mr Fitzgerald told a coroner the group were travelling up to 29pmh in a “pace line” when he struck the retired nursery teacher from Marylebone who was walking her dog.

Mrs Griffiths’ son, Gerard, 52, told Matthew Wright on LBC: “The park is used mainly by families with children, people with dogs. I’m sure my mum is not the first one to be encountering a group like this but she is the first one to be killed by one.

“Something has to change across the board with the law, not just for the speed limit of parks, it’s got to be in general.

“It’s a culture that has grown over the years and it was inevitably going to happen. Unfortunately, my mother was the victim of it but at some point, something like that was going to happen because they neither have the will nor obligation to stop.”

Hilda Griffiths
Hilda Griffiths. Picture: Supplied

Mr Fitzgerald said there was “zero reaction time” and that the cyclists did not need to obey the 20mph limit as “the legal speed limit does not apply to cyclists (the same) as motorists”.

Police concluded there was “insufficient evidence for a real prospect of conviction” and the case was closed with “no further action”.

Detective Sergeant Ropafadzo Bungo told Inner West London Coroners Court there were “no specific” signs indicating a speed limit for cyclists and a police review concluded “there were no criminal acts which would allow prosecution” should a cyclist exceed the general speed limit.

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The inquest heard speed limits do not apply to pedal cycles because they are not mechanically propelled or have speedometers.

The death will not be officially recorded as a result of the collision as it took Mrs Griffiths 59 days to die from head injury “complications”, the Telegraph reported.

The accident took place shortly after 7am on a Saturday in June 2022 near Hanover Terrace and resulted in Mrs Griffiths vomiting blood in the ambulance, suffering multiple fractures and bleeding in her brain.

Mr Fitzgerald expressed his “sympathies” to Mrs Griffiths’ family and said he was “not sure” if there was a “SLOW” sign at the scene of the incident.

Hilda Griffiths's son Gerard
Hilda Griffiths's son Gerard. Picture: Supplied

He denied having his head down and said he saw “an elderly woman” from “about 20 metres” away before she entered 2 metres into the road leaving a “split second” to respond, that “didn’t allow for evasion”.

The GPS devices tracking the cyclists showed they averaged a speed of 25mph but Mr Fitzgerald said the location of the incident was on a slight downhill so their pace had increased.

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

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

Matthew added that the Griffiths’ family barrister Ella Robertson called on the assistant coroner to issue a prevention of future deaths report but this was dismissed.