Partner of endurance cyclist killed in Australia urges action on road safety

The partner of a world-renowned British endurance cyclist who was killed during a 3,500-mile (5,633km) race across Australia has said she hopes his death will highlight the need for better road safety across the globe.

Mike Hall, 35, died almost instantly when he was hit by a car on a stretch of the Monaro Highway, around 25 miles (40km) south of the Australian capital, Canberra.

Last week, a coroner said the “remarkable” sportsman’s death was avoidable, and should be a “catalyst for change” to improve safety for cyclists on the country’s roads.

Anna Haslock, Mr Hall’s partner of three years, told the Press Association she wanted to see a worldwide “attitude shift” towards vulnerable road users.

Mike Hall
Mike Hall died in March 2017 (Johnny Green/PA)

“We need to work together,” she said. “We need to help drivers understand that we (cyclists) are a very vulnerable, unprotected person, just as they are, on the road.

“There’s an attitude shift that needs to happen worldwide.

“People need to be cycling more, and a massive barrier to that is fears for safety. We’ve got a big job to get that sorted – so that people cycling now will feel safer, as well as people cycling in the future.

“Let’s now turn our attention to trying to make sure this case can highlight this issue, or the many issues of road safety for vulnerable road users.”

She added: “If this case is to be the catalyst for changes that will enhance rider safety into the future, a lot more needs to be done.”

Mr Hall, who was originally from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, but later lived in Abbeycwmhir in Powys, Wales, was described by coroner Bernardette Boss as an “exceedingly experienced ultra-endurance cyclist” who was “rated as being one of the most experienced in the world”.

His love of cycling began when he was a child, and in 2012 he became the fastest person to circumnavigate the globe by bicycle, taking just 92 days and beating the previous record by nearly two weeks.

He was twice winner of the Tour Divide and also won the Trans Am Bike Race in 2014.

Taking on the gruelling Indian Pacific Wheel Race in 2017, he had had set off from Fremantle in Western Australia on the morning of March 18, riding unsupported.

Just 12 days and approximately 3,000 miles (4,828km) later, he had crossed most of the continent to reach Cooma in New South Wales and was second in the competition.

On March 31, Mr Hall had set off along the Monaro Highway, which had a 100kmh (62mph) speed limit, shortly before 3am.

An inquest held last year heard that at about 6.20am he was hit by a car in the northbound lane of the road, which had narrowed near an intersection.

A post-mortem examination found Mr Hall had suffered multiple head injuries, fracturing of the spine and multiple chest and abdominal injuries.

Ms Haslock, who was at home in the UK at the time of his death, recalled the moment she was told the news.

“It was as bad as you can imagine,” she said.

Mike Hall
Mike Hall was an experienced endurance cyclist (Lizzie Edmonds/PA)

“Although I knew it was a risk, I didn’t think it would happen to Mike,” she added.

The inquest heard that the driver of the car was at first unaware he had struck a cyclist and thought he had hit a kangaroo until he found Mr Hall’s bike embedded in the passenger side headlight.

There was no evidence that the driver had been driving furiously, recklessly, or with alcohol or prescribed drugs in his system, the coroner noted.

An investigation found that while Mr Hall’s rear light, which was operated by a dynamo and did not flash, was compliant with road safety laws, it would have been difficult for the driver to see.

It also found that the continuous light could have been misinterpreted by a driver for the static red reflectors on the road’s guideposts.

The design of the road and its shoulder rendered it unsuitable for cyclists, particularly at night, the investigators said.

The inquest heard that Mr Hall had been wearing dark clothing with reflective panels, although the items were not dealt with in accordance with normal police procedures for retaining evidence so their reflective properties could not be tested.

Dr Boss said: “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 coroner made six recommendations, including a call for the Australian Capital Territory and other state governments to amend laws to require a cyclists to use a flashing rear light when driving in low-light conditions on rural roads.

Dr Boss also recommended that Australia’s national standards body reviewed rules on lighting equipment for bikes.