Joe Wilkins was a family man, a firefighter, a father of two, and by all accounts a universally well-liked man.
He was killed on his bike, by a Ford Focus travelling at 60MPH, on an unrestricted (60MPH) road, Eaton Road, near Appleton in Oxfordshire.
Here is an image of the road:
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As you can see this is a narrow country road. The collision happened at 9:20PM on May 24th 2012. Sunset would have been at 9PM, so there would likely still have been some natural light. It appears Wilkins' bike had no lights or reflectors. The exact point the collision occurred isn't stated in the reports I've seen.
At 60MPH, things happen pretty quickly. You do not have much time to see and react to any hazards, such as pedestrians or cyclists, who may be hidden temporarily from view. For example, in the image above, there is a slight right-hand deviation in the road that limits visibility. It is roughly 350 feet from the speed limit sign to the limit of visibility. The stopping distance for a car in the dry from 60MPH is 240 feet. So that leaves 110 feet - that's just over a second at 60MPH - spare. With a typical flashing cycle light, it will probably take a couple of flashes for even an alert driver to register the presence of a cyclist, so there really is very little margin for error, even under ideal conditions. Now consider that these figures may be optimistic. If a cyclist is travelling towards the driver at 20MPH, not unlikely with a fit rider on a level road, the distance in which a driver would have to react and stop is significantly reduced.
It seems pretty clear to me that driving at 60MPH on this type of road even on a well-lit day is not safe. At night, while eating a sandwich, that's got to qualify as dangerous, doesn't it? Well, in the UK justice system, apparently not.
In 2010, 49% of UK road deaths took place on single-carriageway rural roads with a 60MPH limit. According to Ralph Smyth, chair of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, "It seems strange that you've got minor roads, often that are just tarmaced tracks, that have a speed limit of 60mph - just 10mph less than the motorways."