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“They didn’t think I would make it”: 80-year-old cyclist wins compensation after horrific pothole crash

Jocky Johnstone hit the ground face first because of the pothole that South Lanarkshire District Council had failed to repair properly despite numerous complaints

A well-known bike racer in Scotland has said that his friends “didn’t think I would make it” after he crashed when he hit a pothole that South Lanarkshire District Council had failed to repair properly despite a number of complaints about the road defect.

John ‘Jocky’ Johnstone, aged 80, hit the ground face-first when he was thrown over his handlebars on Edinburgh Road, Carnwarth, in April 2021.

He was left with fractures to his face and spine, and spent 10 days in hospital. He also needed to wear a back brace for three months.

“I can't remember the accident,” he told the Daily Record. “I woke up in the hospital surrounded by doctors.

“My cycling pals said I was lying on the ground gargling and they didn't think I would make it. The paramedics worked on me on the ground for an hour before I was taken to hospital.

“I fractured my spine, broke my jaw and my nose and I needed 27 stitches on my forehead - I looked crazy!

“I was on my feet within six days and managed to get home a few days later.”

While he does have some after-effects from his injuries, he was back in the saddle before the year was out.

“I started working out in my shed doing pull ups and within five months I was back on my bike,” he explained. “I've got a curve on my back and I do suffer jaw pain at night.”

His daughter Jacqueline got in touch with Cycle Law Scotland, which found out through Freedom of Information requests to the council that since 2018 it had been notified of a number of defects on the road, that it had carried out temporary repairs a number of times, and on each occasion those repairs had failed.

The local authority initially denied liability, until the law firm highlighted that the council’s own records showed a history of road defects at the location, including immediately prior to Mr Johnstone’s crash, and that as a result “the Council could not possibly argue that they had not been aware of the issues.”

The council’s insurers subsequently agreed to settle the claim, with Mr Johnstone saying: “The money covered my legal fees and left me with more than a fair amount as means of compensation.

“I eat well and live life well so just getting out again and meeting new people again makes me happy.”

Roz Boynton, associate solicitor at Cycle Law Scotland, said: “It’s always satisfying to hold a local authority to task for a road that was clearly known to be dangerous to road users.

“Whilst Jocky’s injuries were bad enough, it was by sheer luck that there had not been a fatality on the road as could so easily have been the case.

“It’s been a joy to work with Jocky and to hear his stories about his days racing and his general love of life. His attitude has been inspiring to me, as I have started road racing myself over the past few years.

“Hearing how he battled through his injuries and rehabilitation to get back on the bike has been humbling, and I think we could all do with being a bit more Jocky,” she added.

The app and website Fill That Hole, developed by Cycling UK, enables users to quickly and easily report road defects to the relevant highways authority, with the charity also rating their responses according to what percentage of the defects notified get fixed.

Simon joined 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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mattw | 1 year ago

Good to see the recovery.

Sanshelmut | 1 year ago
1 like

Is the app for Fill That Hole still mainted? The reviews of it make it seem it's not been touched in a while and no longer works. 

Or is it all based through their website now?

rodmit replied to Sanshelmut | 1 year ago
1 like

The app does not appear to work. The website does seem OK though. Alternative is



Owd Big 'Ead | 1 year ago

80 years young.

Keep at it Jocky.

What an inspiration.

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