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Cyclists urge Leicestershire County Council to make ford safe after suffering significant injuries

Three cyclists from Leicester are calling upon Leicestershire County Council to take urgent action to make the ford on Burroughs Road, Ratby, safe for cyclists and other road users.

12 December 2019

The three women all suffered fractures after being caused to fall off their bicycles when cycling through the ford in August this year. They describe the surface under the water as “more slippery than ice” as it was covered in algae.
 
The women are now taking legal action against the council for their injuries and are keen to make sure the area is made safer for other cyclists.
 
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Both Janet Fox, 58 and Kirsty North, 50, were cycling together on 6 August 2019 on a circular route from Leicester. Neither were familiar with the road around the ford. When approaching the ford they considered the relatively shallow depth of the water and, seeing no other safe way to pass, cycled through the water. Both immediately fell off their bicycles. Janet felt immediate pain and was taken to hospital by ambulance, she suffered a fractured pelvis, bruising and open wounds to her elbow and hip. Kirsty was caused to attend hospital after experiencing continuing pain and was also diagnosed with a fractured pelvis.
 
A day later, another lady was cycling in the same area for the first time. She assumed the ford was a puddle and slowed down but saw no other way to pass so began to cycle through. She too, was caused to fall off her bicycle immediately. She was taken to hospital and suffered a fractured her shoulder three places, which needed a metal plate to repair. She also sustained soft tissue injuries to her left knee, right thigh, right elbow and both hands. 
 
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All three women indicated that the ford road sign was concealed by an overgrown hedge. They later found out there was a footbridge for pedestrians but this was also completely hidden by the hedge. Their legal case is being brought by law firm Leigh Day which provides legal cover to all British Cycling members.
 
The women allege in their case that the council were negligent for failing to maintain, for cyclists, safe passage of the highway, failing to prevent the algae build up, as well as not providing adequate signage warning them of the dangers from the ford.
 
Janet and Kirsty said in a statement:
 
“We urge the council to make this section of road safer for everyone. We feel it is impossible for anyone to cross the ford on a bicycle without falling off. Not only that, the danger it poses is not clear at all, most people would consider a ford safe to cycle over if the water levels are low. There is no way of knowing just how slippery the surface underneath has been allowed to become. We don’t want anyone else to get hurt.”
 
Ross Whalley, specialist cycling solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, said:

“This ford posed an apparently unavoidable danger to cyclists, motorcyclists and all road users at the time of these incidents. The current signage was also inadequate and I understand that it has not been changed – but signage itself will not prevent further injury to vulnerable road users if the surface here remains as slippery as ice throughout the year. I would urge the council to reconsider the layout of the ford. My clients have heard from a local resident that there have been other incidents at this ford involving cyclists and even a horse rider, such is the danger. I hope that the council listens to their plea and takes action swiftly to prevent other road users coming to harm.”

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