Coroner: police are turning a blind eye to cyclists

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A coroner launched a stinging attack on police for failing to stop cyclists "riding with impunity" as he opened an inquest yesterday into a former BBC scriptwriter who died following a "bicycle rage" incident.

Dr Paul Knapman said it was "a disgrace" police ignored the laws concerning cyclists. His remarks came at a preliminary hearing into the death of Ted Rhodes, 69, who adapted the book All Creatures Great and Small for television and worked on Z Cars and Dr Who.

Mr Rhodes was found dead after being punched in the face when he reprimanded a man riding his bike the wrong way down a one-way street in south-west London, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

Dr Knapman said: "I do not blame him [Mr Rhodes]. I do not condone the terms he used, but police disregard the laws of the land [concerning cyclists]. It's a disgrace. You see it every day in Wandsworth, Battersea Park, beside the river, towards Albert Bridge. Pedal cyclists think they can ride with impunity. Where are Wandsworth Council, where are the police ?"

The court heard Mr Rhodes had been drinking with friends at a Wandsworth pub on 14 December last year. Having left, he yelled at a cyclist, who stopped and hit him. Two days later, Mr Rhodes was found dead in the hallway of his flat. A post-mortem showed he had a broken jaw, seven fractured ribs, and died due to haemorrhaging, as a result ofa ruptured spleen.

The inquest was adjourned until 6 September. Police are still trying to trace the cyclist.