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Hole caused by road works felled

Fran Millar, head of business operations for Team Sky and sister of Garmin-Sharp pro ride David Millar, has successfully claimed for compensation against against Oldham Council after hitting a pothole left her with a broken cheek, jaw, fingers and missing teeth.

Fran was was riding along Oldham High Street on 1 May 2010 when she swerved to miss a pothole in the road. But as she tried to avoid one pothole, she rode into an even larger one caused by previous roadworks.

She was thrown from her bike, landed heavily on her face and hand and was knocked unconscious. Witnesses to the crash helped Fran and she was taken to hospital where medics found extensive injuries to her face and hands.

Through her British Cycling membership Fran Millar’s case was taken up by Penny Knight of law firm Leigh Day. Penny successfully obtained damages from Oldham Council to compensate Fran for time off work, her injuries and the damage to her bike.

The amount of Fran's compensation is confidential, but similar cases in the last few years have resulted in four-figure pay-outs. In 2009 Ian Davis was paid £7,600 by West Berkshire County Council after he hit a pothole and sustained broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, and hip and knee injuries. In 2010, Kenneth Atkinson received an out-of-court settlement of more than £6,000 from Kent County Council for a badly dislocated shoulder.

Fran is back on her bike and this summer rode the 198km Etape du Tour.

“I feel extremely lucky to be back on my bike again with both my physical and mental scars healed or healing,” she said.

“A crash like this happens so suddenly it can shake your entire confidence on the bike, one minute you are cycling along the next you’re being wheeled into an accident and emergency department.

“More people need to be encouraged to ride their bikes. We are now a cycling nation and councils must make sure that we can all enjoy the road safely. Had I not hit the pothole caused by these road works I would have been forced out into the road into the path of motorists. Having safe roads benefits everyone.”

Penny Knight said: “It was clear that the damage to the road, which caused this crash, was a result of poor resurfacing after the road had been dug up by the council for works to underground pipes.

“We all pay for the upkeep of the roads through our council tax and income tax, councils therefore have an obligation to ensure all roads are suitable and safe for all users.”

If you encounter a dangerous pothole - and is there any other kind - we recommend  using the CTC's Fill That Hole tool to report it. 

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.