After a police investigation, and a three-day coronial hearing, questions still stand about the circumstances that led to the death of British cyclist Mike Hall, who was killed by a car on the Monaro Highway in March 2017.
Mike’s death was an absolute tragedy that has been deeply felt by the Canberra cycling community, and which has been shaken by the loss of a widely known and respected cyclist, and by the knowledge that this could easily have been any one of us.
Mike was killed while exercising his legal right to ride on the road and was fitted out with compliant and functioning front and rear lights as required by ACT law.
Pedal Power is concerned that the focus of the inquest has been on his clothing and lighting, with the assumption that he, the victim of the accident, was somehow at fault or should not have been cycling on the road at that time.
The road does not belong to the motor vehicle. Our roads are a shared space that is used by all of us, and there are minimum passing distance laws in place to protect vulnerable cyclists.
Mike was struck from behind at 100 kph by an inexperienced driver who has himself admitted that he had been distracted just moments before the accident occurred. Frankly, we are astonished that no charges have been laid against the driver.
Furthermore, Pedal Power has serious concerns about the quality of the evidence in the ACT Policing report, including the apparent failure to retain key evidence including the driver’s mobile phone and the victim’s cycle bags and clothing; the apparent delay in obtaining witness statements; and the lack of investigation and follow up into conflicting witness statements.
This was a crash with fatal consequences. The police have a responsibility to the victim to investigate the matter thoroughly, and we are extremely disappointed that this has not occurred.
Pedal Power hopes this inquest will create the impetus for our community to take seriously our responsibility to show consideration to all road users, and to take action to reduce the risks and incidence of death and injury to people who cycle on our roads.
Our hearts go out to the family of Mike Hall, including his former partner Anna Haslock and his mother Pat Hall, who both have travelled to Canberra to attend this long-awaited inquest.
Pedal Power has had a representative at the hearing in an observer capacity and to support Anna during this difficult time.
Below is a media statement prepared by Anna:
"I am very disappointed that I came all this way not to find out the truth about what happened to Mike that morning on Monaro highway.
I’ve sat through three days of an inquest, I’ve seen chilling photos of Mike’s bike impaled in the front of the car.
I’m deeply disappointed with the police for their poor handling of the case and flawed investigation. For example:
A police reconstruction that failed to test several important elements of Mike’s visibility system.
Police failing to retain vital evidence such as Mike’s clothing.
Police failing to retain the driver’s phone at the time of the accident. By his own admission, the driver was distracted and we’ve been unable to test what the distraction was.
I will now be considering my options and getting further legal advice.
Mike had every right to be cycling on the road at the time, he was well lit and riding safely. He had every right to assume that the car approaching him from behind would pass him safely and according to the law."
Read more in the Canberra Times
Erratum: The first sentence in Anna's statement was first published as "I am very disappointed that I came all this way to find out the truth." It has been corrected to "I am very disappointed that I came all this way not to find out the truth."
Image: Mike Hall still image from the film "Inspired to Ride" by Mike Dion.