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Compensation for wheels damaged beyond repair in pothole is refused by council

Claim for £250 new wheels after bike hit pothole is rejected by North Yorkshire Council

A cyclist whose bike was damaged beyond repair in a warped metal drain cover has spoken of his surprise that his claim for damages has been rejected by the local council.

Jonathan Wilson, a greengrocer, was riding close to the kerb on the A167 East Road in North Yorkshire when both of his wheels hit a pencil-shaped gap between a drain cover and the road surface.

The wheels of his bike were completely ruined, and in line with procedure for motorists who have had their cars damaged in potholes, he lodged a damages claim with North Yorkshire County Council.

Studying other drain covers, Mr Wilson argued that the one in question should have had a casting on its lip or frame to prevent exactly this type of damage.

But his claim for £250 was rejected by the highways authority, who said that there was no issue with the drain or the road.

He has also been told that the council will not send him an inspection report.

Mr Wilson told the Northern Echo: "I've been a keen cyclist for 20 years and I steer clear of rough road surfaces, but there was no way of spotting this gap until I was over it."

He added: "There's legislation protecting motorists from this sort of incident, but nothing for cyclists, it's a grey area.

"I've been told the council does not want to pay compensation as it could set a precedent, leaving it eligible for having to pay out for putting other cyclists into the danger zone or having to replace drain covers like the one I rode over.

"We have the Tour de Yorkshire coming through Northallerton in May and local authorities are pushing people to get on their bikes, yet roads in North Yorkshire are dangerous."

The council declined to comment, but a spokeswoman said: "We have a robust inspection regime in place to ensure that all actionable defects are identified and repaired.”

In 2014 we reported how a cyclist who was seriously injured when he hit a pothole in Rickmansworth sued Hertfordshire County Council because of the the council’s failure to maintain the road.

56-year-old Alan Curtis is sought between £50,000 and £100,000 after being left with hearing and nerve problems, short-term memory loss and a broken arm after the crash.

Mr Curtis was training with two friends for a charity bike ride across India in October 2009 when he hit the pothole in The Drive, Rickmansworth.

He was thrown from his bike, hitting his head on the road and smashing his helmet on one side.

His lawyer Kevin O’Sullivan, of Levenes solicitors, said: “This highlights how devastating a pothole can be to a cyclist, and how important it is that a local authority does what the 1980 Highways Act obliges it to do, and look after the road properly.”

Eventually he was awarded nearly £70,000 in damages. His claim stated the pothole could be seen on a Google Street View image from October 2008, but the council failed to note it and order its repair during a scheduled inspection the following March.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

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