Spot the sign

Jim is an extremely fit and active retired gentleman who enjoys long distance cycling and competing in triathlons. 

On Saturday 5 July 2013, Jim was nearing the end of a 60 mile ride when travelling in an easterly direction on Buccleuch Road in Selkirk, he crashed into a road sign. Jim was found lying on the road still clipped to the pedals on his bicycle by passers-by who summoned the Emergency Services. He was taken to the Borders General Hospital where he remained for 2½ weeks. Despite wearing a helmet, the force of hitting the hard ground resulted in John sustaining a significant head injury, fractured ribs, fractured spine and partial amputation of his right index finger.

On the day of the accident and knowing John was an experienced cyclist, a family member took photographs of the sign and notified Scottish Borders Council that the sign presented a danger to road users as it was inconspicuous.

View with road sign inconspicuous in the distance

Road Sign with grey backing

As you can see the sign had a grey background for vehicles approaching from the East that blended in with the grey roof top of a near-by building. The sign was difficult to see particularly in bright sunshine.

Scottish Borders Council said they would send a claim form but never did. Following his discharge from hospital Jim began his slow progress toward recovery and a return to cycling.

By chance, around April 2016, Jim read an article about Cycle Law Scotland and the specialist service we provide to cyclists. He had never fully recovered from his injuries and so Jim contacted Cycle Law to see if we could help as he didn’t think the crash had been his fault.

Despite only having a few months available before the claim would become time barred we went into action. The first thing we did was a Freedom of Information request for signage planning. This revealed that the signage plan stated that the sign should have been correctly facing with a red triangular two-way sign with a white centre on a prominent yellow background. Had that type of sign been in place, in all probability Jim would have seen it and thus wouldn’t have crashed into it sustaining such serious injury.

Improved road sign with cones and 2 way

An action was raised against Scottish Borders Council on the basis the Council failed to follow their own signage plan and in so doing created a danger.

The Council denied that and said Jim had been cycling too fast and simply crashed into a sign that was there to be seen.

However, in January 2017, with a few months to go before the court hearing, an offer was made in settlement. There was a recognition that our case would be successful and rather than insist on their Defence, the Solicitors representing the Council rightly proposed settlement.

Jim was delighted and had this to say, "Thank you sincerely for your considered efforts on my behalf."

Not all cases that we investigate involve collisions with motor vehicles. There are times when cyclists fall foul of inappropriate road signage and road surface defects. At Cycle Law Scotland, we have the requisite knowledge and experience to know what to do even when a client comes through the door with just weeks to go before his case time bars!

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