Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

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thelawnet
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Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby thelawnet » 9 Dec 2020, 3:06pm

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/pe ... es-3061450

A subsequent examination of the electric bicycle found that both the front and rear brakes were worn down to the point of being almost completely ineffective.

Mrs Barnhart told the inquest at County Hall in Northallerton that they were aware of the front brakes being defective, and that during their regular cycle rides in the spring her husband had been relying on the rear brakes. He had planned to take the bike in for maintenance once lockdown ended.


PC Harris added that the hydraulic brakes on Mr Barnhart's bike were 'very much restricted' due to an absence of brake fluid and worn pads. The rear brake had been operated 'to destruction' because of the known fault with the front brake.


This is not the first brake-related cyclist fatality on this road.This one appears to have locked up his brakes (not discs I presume):

https://www.cravenherald.co.uk/news/116 ... t-is-told/

Another death occurred in 2015

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... kspot.html

and a coach crash in 1975 killed 33 at the same spot (Dibbles Bridge), and in 1925 7 people.

ChrisP100
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby ChrisP100 » 9 Dec 2020, 4:00pm

I cycle 100km per week, and I check the pad's, cables and bolts, and if necessary adjust my brakes weekly. Any sign they are not working properly and I sort them there and then. Also, I always do a visual and physical brake check before every ride, and a quick brake test before any steep decent. I have 2 sets of spare pads (new) in my toolbox waiting to go on.

Any doubts whilst I'm riding and I'll pull over and take a look. Not worth risking it for a 2 minute check, and I certainly wouldn't consider riding with only a rear brake. Maybe at a push if it were the rear brake, but I'd certainly ride slowly and walk down any significant decent.

thelawnet
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby thelawnet » 9 Dec 2020, 4:08pm

ChrisP100 wrote:
I cycle 100km per week, and I check the pad's, cables and bolts, and if necessary adjust my brakes weekly. Any sign they are not working properly and I sort them there and then. Also, I always do a visual and physical brake check before every ride, and a quick brake test before any steep decent. I have 2 sets of spare pads (new) in my toolbox waiting to go on.

Any doubts whilst I'm riding and I'll pull over and take a look. Not worth risking it for a 2 minute check, and I certainly wouldn't consider riding with only a rear brake. Maybe at a push if it were the rear brake, but I'd certainly ride slowly and walk down any significant decent.


This was a fatal mistake, and it does seem to belie the claim in the article that deceased was 'very safe'.

millimole
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby millimole » 9 Dec 2020, 4:14pm

I've never used hydraulic brakes on a bicycle (or discs come to that) and I wonder if maintenance on them might be beyond the 'average middle aged bloke' who might have been adequate at fettling traditional rim brakes. Maybe he decided to just keep putting off the dealer service, but might well have been able to deal with traditional brakes themselves.
Leicester; Riding my Hetchins since 1971; Audaxing on my Dawes; Riding to work on a Decathlon Hoprider

reohn2
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby reohn2 » 9 Dec 2020, 4:23pm

millimole wrote:I've never used hydraulic brakes on a bicycle (or discs come to that) and I wonder if maintenance on them might be beyond the 'average middle aged bloke' who might have been adequate at fettling traditional rim brakes. Maybe he decided to just keep putting off the dealer service, but might well have been able to deal with traditional brakes themselves.

That's a possibility,but if so why did he ride the bike in that condition and in an area with such steep roads in the first place?
As for not knowing how to change pads,changing pads on hydraulic disc brakes is a doddle which although not quite as quick is no more difficult than most rim brake pads IME.
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thirdcrank
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby thirdcrank » 9 Dec 2020, 4:29pm

It's hard to say much beyond offering condolences to Anna Barnart, the deceased's widow who witnessed everything. The deceased was apparently more familiar with the road than many of us who consider ourselves fairly local so no amount of warning signs would have made a ha'porth of difference. If hitting the bridge at a big speed wasn't enough, falling off the roof has been the final straw.

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531colin
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby 531colin » 9 Dec 2020, 5:54pm

What an awful waste of a life.
Dibble's bridge is well-known locally as a descent where you can come unstuck if you aren't careful....these people lived closer than I do.
I think there is a problem with hydraulic disc brakes; they are "self-adjusting" in that as the pads wear, more fluid is pumped into the caliper so the pistons (and pads) stick out further. Unfortunately, riders who are not particularly mechanically competent tend to assume that their brakes are not just self-adjusting but also self-maintaining....and they are not.
To-day I got a message from a cycling friend who had come upon somebody stranded because her hydraulic disc brakes were binding and also ineffective, and somebody else I ride with wore his pads down to the metal backing before he realised anything was wrong.
I don't think its a good idea to make a safety-critical device more complex unless the servicing is absolutely set in stone.

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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby Cyril Haearn » 9 Dec 2020, 6:09pm

Could brakes be made fail-safe? What about back-pedal brakes?
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irc
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby irc » 9 Dec 2020, 7:26pm

Years ago I was at the scene of a crash involving a now unconscious teenage cyclist. He was part of a school group. The ride leader had allowed him to continue using a bike with a faulty V brake. The teenager was then allowed to descend a long steep hill and crashed into a roadside tree.

Another time a 6 year old collided with a car after not being able to brake as a footway made a T junction with a road. The brake blocks on her front brake were so badly aligned they missed the rim. The girl was OK, just shaken, as she had hit the side of the car as it passed the end of the path. Two or three seconds earlier and she would have been hit by the front of the car and possibly badly hurt. The view of the river was obstructed by hedges beside the path and parked cars.

A lot of people think of childrens bikes as toys and as long as it is "working" no maintainance required.

Jdsk
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby Jdsk » 9 Dec 2020, 7:34pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:Could brakes be made fail-safe?

Railway brakes and some truck brakes are automatically applied when the most common faults occur. You could rig cycle brakes the same way but I've no idea if the benefits would outweigh the costs.

Cyril Haearn wrote:What about back-pedal brakes?

What's the connection between back-pedal brakes and failing safe, please?

Jonathan
Last edited by Jdsk on 9 Dec 2020, 7:38pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jdsk
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby Jdsk » 9 Dec 2020, 7:35pm

Everyone familiar with the Swiss cheese model?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_cheese_model

Here's one version:

Image

Jonathan

DevonDamo
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby DevonDamo » 9 Dec 2020, 8:27pm

Jdsk wrote:Everyone familiar with the Swiss cheese model?


In this case, I think the most appropriate line of inquiry is 'why would he do that?' The 'Swiss cheese' model provides an overview which shows that there's more to an accident than just one error/failure, but it doesn't do much in terms of detailed examination of why bad decisions might have been made. For that, Sidney Dekker is your go-to guy. You can have a look at one of his more relevant papers here: https://sidneydekker.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/899/2013/01/SafetyResearch.pdf but in essence, he's all about avoiding hindsight and instead looking to understand the person's decision-making process.

With regard to this accident, a 'Sidney Dekker approach' would involve getting to the bottom of the reasons he would have made the decision to ride with defective front brakes. E.g. had he originally planned to take this steep descent, or were there any reasons why he would have been going faster than normal? Taking this approach, is usually where the most important lessons can be learned. Most of us, being honest, will do daft things in our lives, but we'll always have our own reasons and justifications for doing so. It's only by understanding what's going through our heads, that we can arrive at effective ways to prevent recurrence of things like this. There are loads of examples, mainly from the aviation and medical industries, of this sort of approach leading to step-changes in safety. (One well-known example being the use of checklists in surgery.)

thelawnet
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby thelawnet » 9 Dec 2020, 8:34pm

531colin wrote:What an awful waste of a life.
Dibble's bridge is well-known locally as a descent where you can come unstuck if you aren't careful....these people lived closer than I do.
I think there is a problem with hydraulic disc brakes; they are "self-adjusting" in that as the pads wear, more fluid is pumped into the caliper so the pistons (and pads) stick out further. Unfortunately, riders who are not particularly mechanically competent tend to assume that their brakes are not just self-adjusting but also self-maintaining....and they are not.


I once wore out some pads and discs by this principle. I was on a long ride with some fairly steep descents and large amounts of mud and dirt. Probably everything was worn out before I started, but holding brakes down a very bad unsurfaced 'road' wore them out. Made it home with one brake, a little slower than usual

In this case it seems to have been a deliberate decision to carry on cycling over multiple rides after the brakes were known to have been destroyed by lack of maintenance. You end up needing new discs as well, and more tools to change them. But hopefully it is a lesson you only learn once, and not in such catastrophic fashion as here.

ChrisP100
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby ChrisP100 » 9 Dec 2020, 8:40pm

irc wrote:
ChrisP100 wrote:I can't understand why anyone would just ignore a brake problem. Bonkers.



You'd be suprised. Years ago I was at the scene of a crash involving a now unconscious teenage cyclist. He was part of a school group. The ride leader had allowed him to continue using a bike with a faulty V brake. The teenager was then allowed to descend a long steep hill and crashed into a roadside tree.

Another time a 6 year old collided with a car after not being able to brake as a footway made a T junction with a road. The brake blocks on her front brake were so badly aligned they missed the rim. The girl was OK, just shaken, as she had hit the side of the car as it passed the end of the path. Two or three seconds earlier and she would have been hit by the front of the car and possibly badly hurt. The view of the river was obstructed by hedges beside the path and parked cars.

A lot of people think of childrens bikes as toys and as long as it is "working" no maintainance required.


I Never let my kids ride a bike that wasn't correctly maintained, and as for the cycle leader (I presume suitably qualified and experienced), no way they should have let someone with an unserviceable bike take part in a group ride.

Ride-sleep-repeat
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Re: Cyclist died after relying on rear brake on Dales descent due to failed front brake

Postby Ride-sleep-repeat » 9 Dec 2020, 11:10pm

Back in our Mountain biking days we used to carry two sets of new pads amongst other 'necessities'.Two fully working brakes was and is a must.Disc pads could wear quite quickly in off road Winter conditions,they could be fine at the start of a ride but completely shot 10 miles in.The article states he was an Engineer so surely changing disc brake pads shouldn't have been a problem for him.
My newest road bike has hydraulic discs and so far I've done about 800 miles on it and the pads look pretty much new.For his pads to be as described he must've run them for months as IME you know when they need changing as you get a bit of extra travel in the lever and can get brake fade on descents.He must have run them way past that point and unfortunately paid the ultimate price.
It's not a risk I would take.