Scottish Borders Council has been given a stark wake-up call by the Courts when a case brought by a cyclist badly injured on a stretch of the A701 went against the local authority.
David Robinson of Edinburgh suffered a dislocated left elbow and fractures to his elbow and wrist when his bike hit and became lodged in the grooves of a polished metal strip set in the road, throwing him over the handlebars.
He is the first of three cyclists taking action against the Council for injuries sustained at Broughton Village, where the 4 metre long, 10 cm wide metal expansion joint on the bridge over Biggar Water was positioned at an acute angle across the road surface.
As the case unfolded, the Roads Authority was found wholly negligent in its duty of care and the Council has been given a very clear message that it must face the consequences and change its approach to inspecting and maintaining the roads in its region.
Brenda Mitchell of Cycle Law Scotland, who was acting for Mr Robinson, said that she hoped that Borders’ roads would now be safer for all two-wheeled road users as a result of the case. She said:
“It is extremely disappointing that Scottish Borders Council never actively applied their minds to what constitutes a hazard for cyclists and motorcyclists on its roads. The metal strips had been designed by an engineer in 1990 and no thought had been given to them since. The only inspection the roads authority conducted was by a four-wheeled vehicle travelling at 20-25 mph. That manner of inspection is not sufficient to enable a roads authority to identify hazards for two-wheeled road users who are so vulnerable to serious injury.
“Scottish Borders Council did nothing to remedy the hazardous road surface following Mr Robinson’s report of his serious injury in December 2013. It was only after two other cyclists suffered injuries after coming into contact with the same hazard that the Council eventually cut the strips down and covered them in May 2015. It begs the question why action was not taken sooner.”
David Robinson had been cycling as part of a group of 12 cyclists from the cycle club Edinburgh RC and could not clearly see the road surface in front of him until it was too late. He was taken from the scene of the accident to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
“More and more people are being encouraged to cycle and the Borders and the Tweed Valley actively market the region as a cycling destination. This particular hazard has been fixed and I hope that the case has highlighted how the local Roads Authority can play its part in making the area safer for everyone.”