Road defects pose real danger even to experienced riders

Two similar stories from different parts of the UK bear graphic witness to the dangers posed to cyclists by the unprecedented number of potholes currently pock-marking the nation’s roads.

The Lincolnshire Echo reports on cyclist Marc Parris, 31, who was riding in Lincoln when he hit a pothole and was catapulted over the bars, landing on the road and breaking his collarbone in three places.

His crash helmet also split in two when he hit the tarmac after his encounter with a  road defect that was several feet long and about 5 inches deep.

Mr Parris underwent emergency surgery to place a metal plate and six pins in the badly damaged collarbone. He told the Echo: "It was dark and there was nothing I could do to avoid it.

"I didn't really feel pain at first because I think I was in shock, but I could feel this thing sticking out of my shoulder and knew something wasn't right. It must have been bad as the impact crushed my collarbone and smashed my helmet into two bits.

"I do cavity wall and loft installation for a living and take performance-related pay, so this will ruin me."

The incident happened last Tuesday evening at about 5.30pm and the pothole was fixed the following morning. The council said this was coincidental to Mr Parris’ crash and Jeanne Gibson, Principal Highways Officer of Lincolnshire County Council, told road.cc:

"Although this pothole on Brayford Wharf East hadn't been reported to us, we became aware of it through our own inspections and scheduled it for repair, along with the great number of others across Lincolnshire. This repair duly took place on Wednesday morning.

"We're getting around our huge county as quickly as we can and are sorry to hear that an accident took place at this spot in the hours before it was fixed. We wish the gentleman a speedy recovery. A dedicated pothole repairs team has been out every day over the last few weeks, tackling potholes on a priority and route-by-route basis."

Meanwhile at Taunton in Somerset, it was a similar story for commuting cyclist Martin Salter who was on his regular route to work last Thursday when he too was caught out by a pothole which sent him crashing onto the road surface.

“I found myself crawling around in the middle of the road unable to breath. It was so bad I thought I had punctured my lung. I was also scared of getting run over because none of the cars were stopping but I managed to get to the side to the road where I collapsed in a lot of pain.

“I’m really grateful to the staff from the Royal Ashton and Ralph Colman cycles who looked after me until the ambulance came.”

Martin explained to the Somerset County Gazette that he has fractured two ribs, a finger on his right hand and a bone in his left wrist. He will be off work from his job at Musgrove Park Hospital where he works as a theatre assistant for the next six weeks.

Needless to say, there are likely to be plenty more cyclists out there who have been hurt in pothole-related crashes but whose stories have not been reported in the local press.

Given the huge backlog of repairs to potentially lethal potholes in most parts of the country, good lights and a high degree of vigilance have rarely been so important for Britain’s cyclists. And if Mr Parris’ experience is anything to go by, a crash helmet sounds like a pretty good idea too.