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Cyclist sustains serious injuries after council fails to remove fallen tree from bike path

Lincoln council officer admits that “In hindsight” the tree “should have been removed as soon as possible”

A cyclist in Lincolnshire has sustained serious injuries after the council failed to remove a tree that had fallen onto a bike path.

An official from Lincoln City Council admitted that “In hindsight, [the tree] should have been removed as soon as possible” after the local authority had been made aware of the problem, reports the Lincolnite.

The cyclist was riding on the path between Dixon Street and Altham Terrace on the River Witham when he crashed into the fallen willow tree.

At a meeting of the council, its Arborcultural Officer, Evan Murray, said: “We were aware of the tree before the accident, but unfortunately didn’t get to it in time.

“We try and be proactive and remove [hazards] as soon as possible.

“The whole cycle path wasn’t blocked. When it was first inspected, we thought that there was an obvious deterrent to move around it.

“If it was blocking the whole footpath, it would have been dealt with urgently. A contractor was booked to remove it as normal.

“In hindsight, it should have been removed as soon as possible,” he added.

It is not known whether the cyclist will pursue a civil claim against the council for his injuries, but the local authority has now given retrospective permission – too late after the fact, one might think – to remove the tree and plant another willow, albeit further away from the path.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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18 comments

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wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
1 like

“If it was blocking the whole footpath, it would have been dealt with urgently. A contractor was booked to remove it as normal.

“In hindsight, it should have been removed as soon as possible,” he added.

Would be interested to see if this is the criteria for swift action in removing fallen trees from the road. "Well it's not blocking the whole road... so... Manana?

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
1 like

Especially if it was an unlit road. 

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Fignon's ghost | 1 year ago
0 likes

Better call Saul...

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mattw | 1 year ago
2 likes

I think perhaps we need a photo of this one.

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chrisonabike replied to mattw | 1 year ago
0 likes

Not been there myself but it looks like you could have limited room to maneuver.
https://www.google.com/maps/@53.2156417,-0.5505582,17z/data=!3m1!1e3

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SecretSam | 1 year ago
0 likes

Lincolnshire? Figures. Council were probably too busy shagging their sisters

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nordog | 1 year ago
1 like

I got a whack on my helmet yesturday on a local pathway but I'm on my way with a small hand saw to trim it back. I see trees down most weeks but so far I never crashed into one yet but then I have my eyes checked.

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Surreyrider replied to nordog | 1 year ago
5 likes

How sympathetic, especially as I'm sure you don't know the full details of the accident. 
I hope the cyclist recovers quickly. 

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Rendel Harris replied to nordog | 1 year ago
4 likes
nordog wrote:

I got a whack on my helmet yesturday on a local pathway but I'm on my way with a small hand saw to trim it back. I see trees down most weeks but so far I never crashed into one yet but then I have my eyes checked.

"The whole cycle path wasn’t blocked. When it was first inspected, we thought that there was an obvious deterrent to move around it."

A number of potential scenarios immediately occur: the cyclist was riding at night and the obstacle wasn't visible; the cyclist was moving around the obstacle but unexpected behaviour from a pedestrian, small child, dog et cetera forced them to swerve and hit the tree; the obstacle was on a corner so that approaching it the path appeared to be clear. I'm sure many other eventualities could be imagined that involve a good many more contributory factors than simply the cyclist not having had their eyes checked.

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Mungecrundle replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
4 likes

Something about being able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear?

Presumably the tree was stationary. What if it had been a child running towards the cyclist or an errant escooter rider or even another cyclist?

I'll hold my hands up to doing nobby things on occassion and crashing into vegetation but I'd never expect to claim compo for something like this.

Now if a tree known to be at risk of collapse had fallen on him, or the circumstances are far different to the picture painted by the news story, then I'd be a bit more sympathetic beyond wishing him a swift and full recovery from his accident.

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hawkinspeter replied to Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
2 likes
Mungecrundle wrote:

Something about being able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear? Presumably the tree was stationary. What if it had been a child running towards the cyclist or an errant escooter rider or even another cyclist? I'll hold my hands up to doing nobby things on occassion and crashing into vegetation but I'd never expect to claim compo for something like this. Now if a tree known to be at risk of collapse had fallen on him, or the circumstances are far different to the picture painted by the news story, then I'd be a bit more sympathetic beyond wishing him a swift and full recovery from his accident.

I kinda agree, but the council does have a responsibility for clearing vegetation from paths, so the cyclist should be able to claim damages. A fallen tree shouldn't cause a cyclist to crash into it, but it does depend on the lighting and the design of the cycle path - it could have been just after a blind corner for instance, although your point about being able to stop is still relevant.

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mdavidford replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
1 like

Plus I think most of us reading this are probably by default envisaging a whacking great trunk blocking the path. It could have been smaller leafy branches protruding on to it, which would be harder to see until you're almost on top of them.

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mattw replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
3 likes

I'm trying quite hard to avoid jumping to conclusions, but even blind corners should be navigated by bike or motor vehicle in a way that permits a safe stop.

And Lincolnshire does seem to have quite the history around bikes and trees.

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Rendel Harris replied to Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
3 likes

You can be riding perfectly able to stop in the distance you can see clear and then something unforeseen happens, e.g., a dog runs out of the shrubbery and you have a choice between hitting it and swerving and swerving takes you into the tree. Absolutely, if the cyclist was riding along a clear path and it was simply inattention or lack of skill that made them hit the tree then they shouldn't get any compensation, but we don't know whether there were any other factors involved.

If the tree had just fallen down you'd have to put it under Act of God (I don't know if an insurance company would see it that way), the fact that council officers had already been to see it and decided that as it was only blocking half of the path it was okay to leave until their contractors had a free slot that would get them in trouble, I presume.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
3 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

You can be riding perfectly able to stop in the distance you can see clear and then something unforeseen happens, e.g., a dog runs out of the shrubbery and you have a choice between hitting it and swerving and swerving takes you into the tree. Absolutely, if the cyclist was riding along a clear path and it was simply inattention or lack of skill that made them hit the tree then they shouldn't get any compensation, but we don't know whether there were any other factors involved.

If the tree had just fallen down you'd have to put it under Act of God (I don't know if an insurance company would see it that way), the fact that council officers had already been to see it and decided that as it was only blocking half of the path it was okay to leave until their contractors had a free slot that would get them in trouble, I presume.

IANAL but I don't think that the council can use cyclist inattentiveness as an excuse for not managing overgrown vegetation/fallen trees. As I understand it, if it causes you to fall off on a cycle path, then they are responsible for their lack of maintenance. It's very similar to having a loose paving stone that trips someone up - blaming the victim would not work as a defence.

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Rendel Harris replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:

IANAL but I don't think that the council can use cyclist inattentiveness as an excuse for not managing overgrown vegetation/fallen trees. As I understand it, if it causes you to fall off on a cycle path, then they are responsible for their lack of maintenance. It's very similar to having a loose paving stone that trips someone up - blaming the victim would not work as a defence.

Me neither but with potholes (as I know to my cost after a motorcycle crash that broke my wrist and did £800 damage to the bike) councils have a getout (or did in my case) if they can show that they had action scheduled in a reasonable timeframe, could they use that excuse here?

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ktache replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
3 likes

Had it been a road, the person inspecting would have coned and signposted it, and made its removal a priority.

Or shal we consider it only blocking part of a lane on a motorway...

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
0 likes

Looking at the overhead and thge street view for the path at either end, I'm erring that it was night time. Doesn;t seem to be any path lighting and lots of trees overshadowing the path. Probably didn't have lights himself but are they required if only using "off-road" cycling?

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