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Ruby Milnes trial: Junction was inspected as part of checks
THE operations manager of York Racecourse has told a jury he did not see letting traffic through a gate near a cycle track as a risk to the safety of cyclists until after a fatal accident.
Tony Lee said there had been no accidents or near misses involving vehicles near the gate before Ruby Milnes, 17, died in a collision between her bicycle and a lorry on May 8, 2008.
The lorry had just gone through the gateway on a private road that crossed the track at right angles and was delivering portable toilets to York racecourse in the build-up to the first race meeting of the year.
York Racecourse Knavesmire LLP denies failure to ensure the safety of members of the public while receiving deliveries and failure to carry out a risk assessment of the junction.
The Health and Safety Executive, prosecuting, alleges that cyclists tended not to realise it was a crossroads because the gate was generally shut. York Racecourse disputes this.
Mr Lee said he thought it was “unlikely” that a regular user of the track would never have seen the gate open.
He said he inspected the junction as part of his inspections of the nearby car parks before and during all race meetings and did not see it as a potential hazard.
Asked by prosecution barrister Alex Offer if he now saw that assessment about risk as wrong, he replied: “In hindsight, yes.”
The jury has heard that a barrier to slow down cyclists on the cycle path was removed before September 2007 by the cycling organisation Sustrans. Mr Lee said neither Sustrans, nor the owner of the track, City of York Council, had told the racecourse organisation about the removal.
Defence expert, civil engineer and former health and safety inspector Martin Barnard alleged he did not see the junction as dangerous and that any risk was similar to the “everyday life” risks elsewhere on the track.
The trial continues.