Father of Norwich cyclist who died in alleyway said warning signs would have saved his life

PUBLISHED: 09:18 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:09 06 December 2018

Warren Dowling, 32, was described as a

Warren Dowling, 32, was described as a "legend" who will always be remembered. Photo: Dowling family


The devastated father of a cyclist who died from serious head injuries after crashing down a flight of steps is considering legal action over the lack of adequate warnings about the “deathtrap”.

Patrick Dowling with pictures of his son Warren. PIC: Peter Walsh.Patrick Dowling with pictures of his son Warren. PIC: Peter Walsh.

Warren Dowling, who had been to the Sunday Sessions festival at Earlham Park, was cycling home after helping to take a couple of girls home.

But the 32-year-old got lost and failed to see the steps ahead in an alleyway between Dereham Road and Ranworth Road.

Mr Dowling, of Bullard Road, Norwich, had not been wearing a cycle helmet and was declared dead at the scene by paramedics having also had a cardiac arrest.

An inquest into Mr Dowling’s death, held in Norwich on Monday, December 3, heard the path was poorly lit, overgrown and that the steps could not be seen before their approach.

A view of the steep steps at The Loke shortly after Norwich cyclist Warren Dowling died. Picture: Patrick DowlingA view of the steep steps at The Loke shortly after Norwich cyclist Warren Dowling died. Picture: Patrick Dowling

Both the Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council said they will work together to comply with the instructions given to them at the inquest.

Since Mr Dowling’s death, at just before 12.20am on May 28, barriers to slow down cyclists have been installed before the steps along The Loke.

But Mr Dowling’s father Patrick, of Fugill Road, Heartsease, said both Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council “have got to take responsibility” for the state of the area at the time of his son’s death.

He said he is looking to take legal action against the authorities over the lack of warning signs, barriers, the overgrown hedges, and the poor lighting.

He said: “It was a deathtrap.

“There were no warning signs, the lighting was bad, the steps were not visible.

“You don’t see the steps, all you see is Dereham Road. You’re not expecting steps, you’re expecting that slope to continue all the way down to Dereham Road because you can’t see the steps.

“The steps are extremely dangerous. There’s nothing to tell you the steps are there. If there had been signs before the steps he would’ve been here today.

“If there had’ve been warning signs, the lighting had been appropriate and barriers had been there...there wouldn’t have been an inquest.”

Coroner Yvonne Blake concluded a narrative verdict at Norwich Coroner’s Court.

She said the medical cause of death was multiple traumatic head injuries, due to after falling down steps while on a bicycle and having some alcohol consumption.

He had a blood alcohol level of 216mg per 100ml, the legal limit for driving is 80mg.

A Norwich City Council spokesman said: “First and foremost we would like to express our condolences to the family and other loved ones of Warren Dowling for their unimaginable loss since this tragic accident.

“We will co-operate with the coroner’s request and work with our county council colleagues to investigate whether further safety measures should be considered.”

A Norfolk County Council spokesman added: “The safety of cyclists is extremely important to us and we have procedures in place, including audits of new schemes and data monitoring, to help us maintain high standards.

“In the case of fatal accidents specifically, we carry out an assessment of the area to see whether further safety measures should be considered.”

A “legend” who made other people laugh.

That is how Warren Dowling has been described by his father Patrick following an inquest into the death of the 32-year-old held this week.

Patrick Dowling, a lorry driver, said his son was an avid Manchester United supporter who also enjoyed going to music concerts to watch the likes of Coldplay.

Mr Dowling, originally from Lewisham, south London, had lived at Bullard Road, Norwich, and helped look after his mother Mandy who died following a battle with cancer four years ago.

Although he was devastated by his mother’s death his father said he was a “very cheerful and very happy person” who was “well loved by everyone”.

He said: “My son was a good son to me. He was a person who had a lot of love for me and I had a lot of love for him. We were very close.

“He made other people laugh. He was a legend.”

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