A £400,000 payout for the family of a triathlete, 52, killed after her bicycle hit a pothole should be the ‘wake-up call’ local authorities need to prioritise repairing roads, campaigners say
- Family of triathlete who died after hitting a pothole get payout of nearly £400k
- Kate Vanloo, 52, hit a 4-inch pothole hidden by a puddle and collided with a car
- Subcontractors for Warwickshire County Council failed to find and repair crater
- High Court judge approves compensation of £388,000 to be paid to her sons
A payout of nearly £400,000 for the family of a woman killed after her bicycle hit a pothole should be a ‘wake-up call’ for local authorities and the Government, campaigners said last night.
Triathlete Kate Vanloo, 52, hit a pothole and was thrown into the path of a car – after subcontractors for the local council failed to find and repair the crater.
Now a judge in the High Court has approved compensation of £388,000 to be paid by Warwickshire County Council to Mrs Vanloo’s three sons.
Ms Vanloo, of Napton, Warwickshire, collided with a Toyota Yaris after her bike hit the 4in-deep pothole, hidden by a puddle, on her way home from training with the Rugby Triathlon Club in January 2016
The High Court’s permission was needed for the settlement agreed with the council to go ahead, as two of the boys are under the age of 18.
Ms Vanloo, of Napton, Warwickshire, collided with a Toyota Yaris after her bike hit the 4in-deep pothole, hidden by a puddle, on her way home from training with the Rugby Triathlon Club in January 2016. She suffered catastrophic injuries.
The pothole had been identified by a safety inspector for contractors Balfour Beatty as a so-called ‘category 2’ defect in 2015.
It should have been repaired within 28 days, but it was three months before the council ordered the company to fix it.
Subcontractors C.R. MacDonald Ltd did not go out to repair it until November 2, 2015 – but workmen mistakenly fixed a different hole.
The council told the coroner it took safety seriously and maintained that it had ‘significantly improved’ its cumbersome reporting and identifying procedures.
The new system was designed to automatically prioritise the repair of potholes that are close to their 28-day limit.
Triathlete Kate Vanloo, 52, hit a pothole and was thrown into the path of a car – after subcontractors for the local council failed to find and repair the crater
Cycling and walking charity Sustrans called for local and national government to increase spending on fixing potholes.
Rachel White, its head of public affairs, said: ‘This tragedy should be a wake-up call to ensure our roads and streets are safer for everyone, and that the surfaces are safe, in particular for more vulnerable road users, including pedestrians and people who cycle, for whom potholes pose the greatest threat.
‘Potholes can be an inconvenience for people who drive, but they are more likely to cause injury, and even death, for people who cycle.’
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘For drivers doing their best to dodge the potholes that plague our roads, the worst they are likely to experience is a burst tyre or bent wheel – irritating and expensive but not life-threatening.
‘This case reminds us how much more serious poor road conditions are for those on two wheels.
‘Our research shows councils are increasingly turning to a risk-based system when deciding which potholes to fill in first.
‘This means size isn’t everything but account is also taken of where a pothole is and what danger it poses to those using the road.’
He welcomed a Government five-year plan to maintain the 4,300 miles of motorways and major A-roads in England, but added: ‘That still leaves around 183,000 miles of local roads under the management of councils, which continue to have to scratch around for money and have little hope of clearing the £10 billion road maintenance backlog.’
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