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Ruby Milnes trial: Driving instructor’s warning to children
A DRIVING instructor was so concerned about the safety of the junction beside York Racecourse where a cyclist was killed that she warned her teenage children about cycling through it, a jury heard.
They also heard the racecourse’s safety advisor Phillip Atkinson say: “I would suggest York is one of the leading racecourses in the world for safety management.”
York Racecourse LLP denies two breaches of health and safety regulations over the junction.
Driving instructor Sarah Tweedie said she used the cycle track across York Racecourse regularly twice a day to get from her South Bank home to York College, where she was a mature student for two years. She also used to take her dogs along the track.
Giving evidence at York Crown Court, she almost broke down in tears as she described how she was cycling home on May 8, 2008, when she came across the aftermath of the crash that killed Ruby Milnes, 17, where the track crosses a private road leading to York Racecourse’s stands.
She said she tried to help the younger cyclist as she heard the emergency services arriving, but said: “There was nothing I could do.” Mrs Tweedie said a gate stopping traffic reaching the junction had generally been closed during the winter, but from late spring it had been increasingly left open.
“There was very little to warn people there were cars. I was horrified when I realised it was going to be left open more and more.”
She told the jury of the period when the gate was generally shut: “You got lulled into a false sense of security that nothing was going to happen.”
She claimed she warned her two children, both adults who used the route to cycle to and from the college, about the junction.
Because she was a driving instructor she was very careful at the junction, but she had seen other people not looking when they crossed the junction.
“You wouldn’t think there was a road there,” she alleged.
Kevin Brown, who organises Saturday car boot sales on land by the junction during the summer, said he always taped off the cycle path so that cars at his events could not reverse on to it and drive along it, but cyclists could use it.
Mr Atkinson, who also advises other major English racecourses, said he had inspected the area around the junction and driven through it several times as part of his safety work before May 8, 2008, but had never noticed anything “significant” that needed recording in a risk assessment. He had not made a specific risk assessment of the junction.
The trial continues.