A motorcyclist died after colliding with a makeshift gate on the Taff Trail, an inquest has heard. Jamie Roberts, 28, of Merthyr Tydfil, hit a metal bar put up by farmer Gwyn Parry, the court heard. Mr Parry told Aberdare coroner's court he had not considered the safety of motorcyclists as they should not have been on the trail. The coroner, who said it was not safe for the bar to be there, recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.
The court heard Mr Roberts and two other friends on motorbikes were riding on the Taff Trail at Pontsticill, Merthyr Tydfil, in July 2010 when the incident happened. The trail is a multi-purpose route between the Cardiff and Brecon, Powys, used by walkers and cyclists, with parts of it also suitable for horseriders. The inquest heard that one motorcyclist braked but Mr Roberts braked later and collided with the makeshift gate. He suffered severe head injuries and died later at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.
Mr Parry told the inquest he had constructed the makeshift metal bar gate in order to keep his stock in after a previous gate had vanished. The court heard that Mr Parry had previously put wire netting between the gate posts but that had been removed after council officials considered it a hazard. The council had ordered a new five-bar gate but had not fitted it because of a lack of staff, the court heard.
The coroner heard that the metal bar gate was spotted by the trail warden on 1 July - 10 days before Mr Roberts's accident. The warden called his supervisor who told him that it must be part of ongoing maintenance and it was not removed, the court heard. The warden told the inquest that it looked safe to him and he assumed it was to stop animals on the trail. He said that it did not pose any risk to him and he did not consider it to be of any risk to users of the trail.
The council's customer services director Gary Thomas told the inquest that visual risk assessments had taken place relating to ordinary users of the trail. These were deemed to be walkers, cyclists and people on horses at the time - because motorcyclists should not have been on the trail. He said that now when assessing risk, staff had to consider motorcyclists.
The police officer who investigated the incident, PC Nick Cooper, said the bar across the trail would have been very hard to see. He said there was nothing to aid its visibility. There were no warning signs and it was a risk in daylight to those using the Taff Trail, particularly those travelling at speed.
Recording her verdict, coroner Louise Hunt said motorcycles should not have been on the Taff Trail, but that the bar did not stand out and that other users of the trail could also be at risk because of its presence at the time. She said that if it had been assessed as a risk on 1 July, it could have been removed before Mr Roberts got there on his motorcycle. "The visibility of the bar was difficult for any user of the Taff trail, and it wasn't really safe for it to be there," she said.