A coroner, ruling on the death of a cyclist who died after hitting a pothole, has called for Surrey County Council to reconsider how it classifies the severity of road defects and how quickly they should be fixed.

Ralph Brazier, 52, of Basing Close in Thames Ditton, died after hitting a pothole at the junction of Weybridge Road and Hamm Court on March 1, 2016.

Mr Brazier, who had been on a 25-mile ride with members of the Twickenham Cycling Club, landed “head first” in the road after somersaulting over the handlebars when he struck the sunken drain cover at about 7.50pm.

Paramedics worked for more than 90 minutes to resuscitate him at the roadside but he died from a fracture dislocation of his upper spine.

Assistant Coroner Christopher Sutton Mattocks delivered a narrative verdict at Woking Coroner’s Court on Thursday, March 2, after a three and a half day inquest last week.

The court had heard from neighbours how the hole had gradually become worse over the Christmas period, and by January 2016 it had completely deteriorated.

Subsequently, the pothole underwent a temporary repair on January 28 by council contractors Kier, and a second, more permanent repair to last up to two years, was put in place on February 12.

But road users noticed it had broken up within a few days, with the works appearing “shoddy and cheap”.

James Taylor, who produced a report for Kier following the accident, criticised the decision by a contractor not to place cones or barriers around the pothole to safeguard road users, and insisted it was in a “high risk location and should have been seen urgently”.

A third repair had been scheduled to take place on March 2, the day after Mr Brazier died.

Surrey Comet:

The classification of the severity of the pothole by council contractors was also brought into question.

The pothole had received a ‘P2’ classification - meaning it should be repaired within five days.

The court heard the council receives between 70 and 100 'P2' notifications each day, in comparison to 'P1' notifications - the most serious - of which the council receive one notification a day.

It was argued in court by Mr Taylor that the pothole in question should have received a ‘P2+’ classification, which is to be used in “exceptional circumstances” where the pothole is below the standards of a ‘P1’ but more severe than a ‘P2’.

But Julian Waters, representing Surrey County Council, explained that the hole was rightly categorised as a ‘P2’ as it fell short of the 75mm depth requirement for a 'P2+'.

Surrey Comet:

The pothole was repaired the day after Mr Brazier's death

The court had previously heard the drain fitting, replaced and reinstated on February 12, had been fixed 90 degrees in the wrong direction.

But a joint investigation after Mr Brazier’s death by Kier and Surrey County Council found numerous blockages in the drainage system on the opposite side of the road caused water to float below the grill.

This in turn was likely to have led to the weakening of the tarmac causing the pothole.

Mr Sutton Mattocks, delivering his conclusion, said: “[The contractor who classified the hole] had a pothole which was less than the 75mm of the requirement for a ‘P1’ classification, and a ‘P2+’ is only used in exceptional circumstances.

“The pothole needs to be over 40mm deep [to be classified as a ‘P2’ pothole]. This in my judgement seems illogical.

“I intend in due course to make a report to Surrey County Council in relation to the categorisation of road defects.

“Ralph Brazier died on March 1, 2016, as a result of injuries sustained in a road accident on the A317 Weybridge Road near Ham Court. His front wheel hit a depression 11cm deep next to a gully causing him to be thrown violently forwards.”

A regulation 28 report - Action to Prevent Future Deaths - will be written and sent to the council in the next week.

Surrey Comet:

Flowers and his Twickenham Cycling Club jersey were left at the spot where he died

Jason Russell, who is in charge of Surrey County Council's highways, said: “Our thoughts remain with Mr Brazier’s family at this distressing time. We will review the Coroner’s findings with our contractor Kier and anything more we can do will be done to prevent anything like this happening again.”

Mr Brazier's family released a statement following the conclusion of the inquest this afternoon.

It said: “We are very grateful to the coroner for such a thorough investigation into Ralph’s death. While nothing can bring Ralph back at least we now feel we have some answers to the many questions we had about how he died.

“We hope that the Coroner’s conclusion will provoke effective action from local councils to ensure that their roads are safe for everyone, including passionate cyclists like Ralph.”

Grant Incles, representing the family, said: “Some of the evidence heard at this inquest would cause considerable concern to vulnerable road users. Through his investigation the Coroner has identified an issue which affects cyclists all too often. 

“It is hoped his recommendations to Surrey County Council will mean that they and councils all over the UK take meaningful action to protect all vulnerable road users, and in particular the growing body of people using the roads to ride bikes for sport, leisure and just to get from A to B.

“For far too long the prevailing attitude has been that roads are for 4-wheeled motor vehicles and risk-assessed on that basis. This has got to change and we just hope this case will help to do that.”