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Cycling father joins legal fight against Devon County Council after hitting pothole on Exeter road

By AWalmesley  |  Posted: March 15, 2014

Cyclist Lee Bingham was injured after hitting a pothole on Pinhoe Road

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A father-of-two has become the latest cyclist to take legal action over an ‘invisible’ pothole blamed for a spate of accidents on a busy city road.

Lee Bingham, 43, was riding to collect his son from school when the front wheel of his £1,000 road bike went into the hole on Pinhoe Road – throwing him over the handlebars.

The finance manager, who lives in Beacon Heath, was knocked unconscious in the accident at the Summer Lane junction– and woke to find himself surrounded by paramedics in an ambulance.

He was taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries to his head and shoulder.

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“If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, the outcome could have been very different. It probably saved my life, ” he said.

Devon County Council, the authority responsible for managing and maintaining some 8,000 miles of road , refused to accept liability for what happened.

Mr Bingham phoned the Echo after being “shocked” to read about two separate accidents in the same location on August 20.

John Thacker, 72, who lives in St Leonard’s, suffered a number of injuries when he was came off his £2,500 road bike. In hospital, he met a young woman who had also apparently been injured an hour later.

He has vowed to fight for compensation payments to all three ‘pothole victims’ – and is prepared to take his own case to court.

“The road surface should have been impeccable in the summer. I’d like to know why nothing was done about the pothole between August and October,” he said.

“Devon County Council is very good at promoting cycling, but unless it repairs the roads properly, people will be put-off cycling.”

A council spokesman said: “We cannot comment on individual cases.”

As part of his efforts to gather information about other accidents in the area, Mr Bingham is contacting other cyclists, councillors and local businesses.

Christine Bye, the bakery supervisor in Costcutter, said: “It’s become an accident blackspot. For two people to come off their bike in virtually the same place on the same day, the road surface must be bad.”

His bike was damaged so severely it was deemed “unrepairable” following an assessment at Richard’s Bikes near the scene of the accident.

Shop owner Richard Wiseowner said: “The roads are in an appalling state, especially the country lanes. The worst case scenario will be if a cyclist comes off and then gets run over.”

A total of 15,400 new potholes were reported in January and February on Exeter’s streets and routes across the county following the wettest winter on record.

Highway authorities said the repair bill on Devon’s roads currently stands at £767m – and admit little can be done to stop the backlog spiralling further.

But the county council has decided to reduce its own spending on the roads by £4.4 million to £29.1 million next year to meet significant funding cuts from the Government.

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  • Tony248  |  March 14 2014, 7:43PM

    Like all public bodies the knee jerk reaction is always to deny any liability. They are probably made to do that by their Insurers, counting on the fact that 90% of people will simply accept it. Just issue a claim in the County Court. Then watch how quickly they change their tune. I did that, and from "we cannot offer you any settlement" they went to "Here's the £1,300 you claimed from us" in a very short time......

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  • woe_is_me1  |  March 14 2014, 12:30PM

    If the pothole is invisible, how are Devon County Council's highways contractor going to find it to repair it?

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  • AlexTLF  |  March 14 2014, 7:23AM

    Following the first accident, surely the police should have been informed (if they didn't already know) so the area could be cordoned off immediately. This would, at least, have avoided further accidents.

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