A CYCLIST killed after being hit by a bus on Botley Road fell from her bike before the collision with the vehicle, police have said.
Claudia Comberti was pronounced dead on Tuesday afternoon after being hit by a 4B bus at the junction with McDonald’s.
Police now believe the 31-year-old fell from her bicycle just prior to the collision with the bus.
Friends, family and colleagues came together to remember the East Oxford cyclist with in an emotional tribute on Wednesday afternoon.
And another vigil is planned for tonight.
Detective Sergeant Gavin Collier, of the serious collision investigation unit, said: “Having collated evidence from a number of sources, at this stage it is believed that the cyclist sadly fell from her bicycle just prior to the collision.
“Investigations remain ongoing to establish the cause of the incident, however we do not believe it was as a result of any interaction with another person or vehicle."
Holding an empty white bicycle in silent tribute, a group of about 140 cyclists rode the length of the road before laying the bike near the spot where she died and adorned it with flowers.
Speaking at the impromptu memorial organised by cycling group Broken Spoke, friends of Oxford University student Miss Comberti paid an emotional tribute to her.
A friend described her as a ‘lovely person’ who ‘still had so much life’.
She said: “She knew what she wanted and she was really playful at the same time.
“She was really restless but she loved being here in Oxford even though her home was in the jungle.
“She was a monkey, she was an activist, and she helped a lot of people. She fought for what she believed in.
“I am not surprised at all with the turnout today, it was quite reflective of who she was.”
One of her housemates who joined in with the emotional ‘ghost ride’ said Miss Comberti was ‘in love with the world’.
She added: “Claudia was an ecologist, an activist, a sharer of stories. Her PhD research was all about people within the Bolivian Amazon who are impacted by climate change.
“These past few weeks she was reading the last PhD paper and it was at that point that she felt she had been trusted to tell this story that had never been told. She wanted to really get it right.
“She was the kind of person who loved life and loved nature and the world around us. I would come back home and she would have run eight miles already. She was someone who was really open-hearted.”
Miss Comberti was a student at the school of geography and the environment and was in her fourth year at Oxford University.
Originally from London, she had lived in Oxford for the last five years.
One of her three PhD supervisors, Prof Yadvinder Malhi, said: “She was extremely original and came up with lots of new ideas.
“She had a real passion for the Amazon and for the people of the Amazon.”
He added that her research was already receiving international recognition before her death and that the UN had even recognised the importance of her research on indigenous people and climate change.
Fellow student Sam Moore said: “You can see from the turnout at such short notice that she meant a lot to a lot of people.”
Homero Baltan, 32, also a PhD student and friend, said: “She was very enthusiastic about her studies and working with indigenous people and climate change. For her it was a passion she had.
“That was something I saw when I first met her, that passion. That really impressed me about her, just how committed she was.”
Members of the Tandem Festival, an Oxford event that celebrates international culture, also paid tribute to her on social media and a spokesman wrote: “To the beautiful Claudia, an original Tandemer, her smile, hammock, neckerchiefs and elf hats will be forever in our hearts and memories.”
Police haven’t confirmed the identity of the woman cyclist killed but said they were appealing for witnesses to the collision which happened at 2.45pm on Tuesday and involved a double-decker Oxford Bus Company vehicle.
Police staff investigator Julie Hunt, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “I would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time of this incident, who witnessed it, or who has any information that could help with our investigation.
“Contact me via the Thames Valley Police non-emergency number 101.”
Oxford Bus Company managing director Phil Southall said the firm was doing everything it could to assist emergency services and that their thoughts were with the cyclist’s friends and family.