A487 Aberystwyth crash: Son says driver who hit cyclist dad should be in jail

“My dad was a funny, lovely person who wanted to help everybody and do a lot for the community" Credit: Y Byd ar Bedwar/S4C

A grieving son whose cyclist father was killed in a crash believes the sentence given to the driver who hit him 'was not harsh enough'.

Paul James from Llanbadarn Fawr in Ceredigion was cycling near Aberystwyth in 2019 when he was struck by Lowri Powell's car.

The 61-year-old councillor and former soldier, who was training for a charity bike ride, fell into the A487 and was fatally hit by another car.

Powell, from Penrhyncoch, claimed in court she had been temporarily blinded by the sun, meaning she could not see the cyclist ahead of her.

In September she was found guilty of causing death by careless driving.

The former soldier was training for a charity bike ride in 2019

Powell was handed a six month prison sentence in October, suspended for two years and she was also disqualified from driving for 12 months.

Speaking to ITV Wales’s current affairs programme Y Byd ar Bedwar for the first time since his father’s death, Mr James’s son Cameron said he felt harsher sentences would make drivers think twice about how they behave around cyclists.

He said: “It’s not harsh enough. I don’t understand how somebody can take somebody else’s life and just get a suspended sentence. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

The father of four’s death had a profound impact on his family and on the local community.

‘I never got the chance to say goodbye to my Dad’

Cameron said: “I’ll never forget that day. I remember the moment my mother called me and I didn’t believe it. It’s something you never expect to hear.”

He added: “My dad was a funny, lovely person who wanted to help everybody and do a lot for the community. I think about him every day.

"I never got the chance to say goodbye to my Dad and that’s so difficult for me.”

The popularity of cycling has increased substantially over the years and during the pandemic, more people were travelling on two wheels than at any point since the 1960s.

Last year saw 96 cyclists killed or seriously injured in Wales.

Cycling traffic increased by 68% in 2020 as the number of cars on Welsh roads plummeted, however a recent survey on behalf of the Welsh Government found 49 per cent of people were concerned roads were not safe for cyclists.

Climate Change Minister Lee Waters, who is responsible for active transport, says cycling in Wales is safe and has significant health benefits.

The Welsh Government is spending £75 million on active travel this year and the minister acknowledges it will take time and investment to bring Wales’ cycling infrastructure in line with that of other European countries.

Mr Waters added: “Even though we’ve had a massive increase in the number of people cycling over the last year due to lockdown we haven’t seen as you might expect a similar proportionate rise in the number of casualties which is very encouraging.“

Lee Waters said our roads must remain safe to ensure people keep walking and cycling after the pandemic Credit: ITV Wales

"We do have a problem with the behaviour of some drivers and this is partly cultural. Because so few people in this country cycle, drivers don’t have the experience of what it feels like on a bike.

"We’ve created, in this country, a culture of us and them where the driver somehow feels emboldened in this dangerous box of steel to do what they like and that does require confronting their behaviour and prosecuting dangerous driving.” 

We contacted Lowri Powell for this story but she did not provide a response.

Y Byd ar Bedwar, available with English language subtitles, is on S4C at 8.25pm on Wednesday.