An appeal has been made to fit HGVs and buses with sensors that can detect cyclists after an inquest into the death of a Thurles woman heard that large vehicles all have a blind spot that prevents the driver from seeing certain parts of the road.
Such sensors were being tested in London, the inquest at Nenagh Courthouse into the death of Theresa Crowley, 13 Ardnacrusha, Abbey Road, was told. Ms Crowley, 71, died in an accident involving a Bus Eireann bus at the junction of Kickham Street and Mitchel Street shortly before 10am on May 2, 2012.
“I’m glad to hear there are ongoing tests,” said coroner Joseph Kelly. “I just hope to see vehicles fitted with those sensors and that cost will not be a factor.”
Earlier Garda David Condon told Mr Kelly that blind spots were “inherent” with these type of vehicles and had been reported on over the years.
“It is a well-known problem that continues until this day,” he said revealing that tests were being carried out in London on the use of sensors.
Garda Condon said a forensic examination showed the bus was in good mechanical order.
The inquest heard that CCTV taken in the area showed Ms Crowley, who was on a power-assisted bicycle, enter the roundabaout at the junction with her right arm outstretched. She went round the roundabaout and exited left on to Kickham Street. The bus went through the roundabout and moved out to overtake her but shortly after exiting the roundabout the bus impacted with her.
The inquest heard that it was not possible to establsh Ms Crowley’s identity at the scene. However, one eye-witness noticed a bunch of keys on the bike with a Tesco fob and this was brought to Tesco on Liberty Square where identity was established.
Bus driver Alberto Duarte, a qualified mechanic with Bus Eireann, said in his deposition that he had been taking the bus for a test drive that morning and was driving behind Ms Crowley as far as the junction. He thought she turned up Mitchel Street. He looked in his mirror and could see the cyclist lose control. He stayed at the scene until the Gardai arrived and was later described by his GP as suffering from shock.
Mr Casey described the accident as distressing for Ms Crowley’s family and traumatic for all who had witnessed it.
“No one was to blame. This was simply a tragic accident,” he said.
The jury recorded a verdict in line with medical evidence that Ms Crowley died from severe head injuries sustained in a traffic accident. Mr Casey, the jury, Sgt Pat Curran, on behalf of the Gardai, and Bus Eireann extended their sympathies to the Crowley family on the death of Ms Crowley.
The family read a statement to the inquest following the verdict in which they described Ms Crowley as “warm, generous, gentle, happy and independent”.
She had looked after her elderly parents up to their death and loved meeting her friends on the way to Mass and walking her dog, Ruby.
She had been cycling since she was a teenager as was the first woman in Thurles to have an electric bike.
“What makes cycling dangerous is the careless attitude of some drivers,” the family said and she had been “cruelly snatched away” from her family.