A CYCLIST who died after hitting a road sign could have survived if he had been wearing a helmet, an inquest heard.

Mark Orchard, of Mons Way, Abingdon, was found lying at the bottom of a hill in Brumcombe Lane, near Bayworth, by driver Julie Cotton at about 7.15am on June 24.

The 53-year-old building maintenance service manager and keen cyclist died the following day of serious head injuries at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.

The inquest at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court on Thursday heard Mr Orchard had cycled downhill from the direction of Boars Hill, before hitting the metal road sign and falling off his bike.

Forensic collision investigator Terry Anderson told the inquest: “It seems likely he had driven down an extremely long hill and failed to navigate the bend at the bottom.

“Once he had left the road it was just bad luck that he encountered the road sign as he did. His injuries may not have been as severe if he had been wearing a cycle helmet.”

In a statement read to the inquest, Mr Orchard’s wife of 10 years Karen Orchard said: “Mark left a huge whole in our family, he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”

She added: “Mark never owned a cycle helmet or thought about getting one.”

Philip Balderstone, vehicle examiner, said in a statement that there were no defects found on the bike.

Deputy assistant coroner Nicholas Graham recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: “ I do not think there is any evidence that there were any other vehicles involved in the incident at all.”

In October, the Oxford Mail again teamed up with Witney Firm Oxford Products to give readers another chance to purchase one of 500 helmets for just £5 – a saving of almost £10. The promotional offers have been available over several years in a bid to cut the number of serious head injuries in accidents in the area.