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Cyclist smashes teeth in pothole crash, demands council action on dangerous roads

"The next thing I knew I was on the road spitting my teeth out and wondering where the blood was coming from"...

A cyclist from Southampton — left with three broken teeth and a £1,400 dental bill after a pothole sent him flying from his bike — has demanded action from the council who, he says, needs to adopt "a duty of care" to improve the city's "very poor" infrastructure and road surfaces.

James Noel told the Southern Daily Echo he was cycling from work back to his home in Fair Oak along the Western Esplanade, a major dual carriageway through the Hampshire city, when he hit a pothole.

"The next thing I knew I was on the road spitting my teeth out and wondering where the blood was coming from," Mr Noel said.

> "I've never seen anything like it": Cyclists hospitalised by loose gravel crash seek compensation from council

Amongst his injuries the 45-year-old suffered three broken teeth and needed seven stitches to treat a cut on his chin, his dentist "amazed" the jaw was not broken in the impact.

"After being administered first aid at work I went to A&E and had my chin stitched up – seven stitches in total," he continued.

"I had three broken teeth and needed fillings and a crown, but my dentist was amazed I hadn't broken my jaw. I couldn't eat for a few days and my jaw couldn't move around. I thought I hit something, so I went back to look at the road and it was in a state."

The council told the cyclist infrastructure and maintenance contractor Balfour Beatty visited the road the following day and the pothole has since been fixed.

Despite this, Mr Noel says there remain other holes and dangerous uneven surfaces on the route and he has sent a claim for the £1,200-£1,400 dental costs to the council.

> Pothole that caused 75-year-old cyclist to crash not deemed a "critical safety defect" by council

"The city centre infrastructure is very poor to cycle through," he said.

"For me, the council needs to look at how it can prevent incidents like this from occurring. I wasn't taking any risks or darting between drivers, so there's a duty of care when it comes to the roads and infrastructure.

"How is it going to be reviewed? I have now lost my mojo and it’s going to take a bit of courage for me to get back on and ride into work again. I am now financially out of pocket so the council should at least meet the costs incurred for my injuries. And they should fix the road."

Southampton City Council says it "cannot comment on individual cases", adding "Balfour Beatty carry out all highways inspections and repairs to agreed standards and administer the process relating to insurance claims on behalf of the council who are the Highway Authority."

"Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 allows authorities a defence if we can show that reasonable steps were taken to maintain the highway. This means inspections and repairs being carried out as planned and in accordance with the council's policies," a spokesperson added.

A nationwide problem?

Earlier this week we brought you the news that a coroner is to submit a report raising concerns about Surrey County Council's lack of action in repairing dangerous potholes, one of which caused a fatal cycling crash in June 2020.

During an inquest into Charles Stringer's death it was found the cyclist had died after hitting a pothole and sustaining a catastrophic chest injury. The pothole was reported four times by members of the public in the month prior to Mr Stringer's death, with an investigator wrongly assuming a different hole was the problem.

The 23 June deadline for action came the day after Mr Stringer's fatal crash. Dr Karen Henderson said there had been a "lack of reflection by Surrey County Council", management of potholes had not improved and asked for better steps to make inspectors aware of complaints, risk assessments and better communication between the contact centre and highways department.

What are the roads like where you ride? Does the council act quickly to respond to reports of dangerous potholes? 

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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IanMSpencer | 1909 posts | 11 months ago

I was reading Roadcraft the other day (looking for a nice bit of wording to annoy one of our trolls) and it struck me that it was written with barely a reference to cyclists.

Similarly, I expect that council standards for road repair were written without consideration of cyclists - typically the standards we see on the road seem to suggest they consider the car to be the test of reasonableness rather than the bike.

I'm tempted to compose a FOI to the local councils to test their criteria for repairs. Suggestions for phrasing for maximum effect?

hutchdaddy | 171 posts | 11 months ago

I've no doubt that if the cyclist was wearing a helmet & hi-vis, had paid road tax, had insurance and also had a number plate their teeth would be intact.

The roads in Southampton are a state, many cycle paths even worse.

Sriracha | 4081 posts | 11 months ago

What, the cyclist wasn't wearing a mouth guard?

IanGlasgow replied to Sriracha | 347 posts | 11 months ago

I had an accident 3 years ago which cost me £5,000 for dental implants. I have seriously considered riding with a mouthguard.

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