Lifelong cyclist Margaret Nicholl, 67, was killed as a result of head injuries sustained when she was thrown from her bike after hitting a pothole, an inquest into her death heard on Thursday.

Nicholl was out riding with her husband, Richard, in Shepton Montague, Somerset, on March 12 2011 when her cycle struck a pothole on a descent. She was thrown to the ground, hitting her head. Her husband found her lying unconscious having suffered severe head injuries, according to a report in the Western Daily Press. Neither Mr or Mrs Nicholl wore a helmet as they had read that they were not effective when riding at over 12mph.

The retired civil servant, who was a CTC member and had been an active cyclist for 50 years, was taken immediately to hospital in Bath before being moved to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. She died of her injuries ten days later.

Somerset County Council had checked the road surface for defects the previous September, and had scheduled another check just days after the incident occurred. Evidence was presented at the inquest that the potholes had been there for four months.

The inquest at Wells Coroner’s Court recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Margaret Nicholl’s plight highlights the serious menace that potholes represent to cyclists and other road users – evenly highly experienced ones. Road defects can form quickly in wet and icy weather, causing the road surface to deteriorate rapidly.

National cyclists’ organisation CTC created the Fill That Hole website in January 2007 to help the reporting of potholes and road defects to the relevant local council. The site also includes a map of known hazards.

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