Farmers warned to clear lanes for cyclists

Compensation for cyclist after hedge debris causes accident

Land owners have been warned to be considerate of road users.

A cyclist injured in an accident caused by hedge debris in a country lane is calling for landowners to be more responsible and considerate to road users.


Wheelchair user Andy Ebben, a health and safety consultant from Market Drayton, was cycling along a lane between Cheswardine and Adbaston when both tyres of his recumbent bike were punctured by hawthorn and blackthorn debris.

Ebben, 55, was thrown onto the road, suffering severe cuts, bruises and grazes and his £2,500 bike was badly damaged. His spinal injury meant he was unable to get up and was forced to call for help from the roadside.

Ebben took action against the landowner and won compensation for his injuries and damage to his bike. He is now calling for land owners to give more consideration to road users, to fulfil their obligation to keep roads free from hazardous materials and to put out warning signs when work affects the state of the road.

“On the day of the accident I came around a blind corner and immediately saw the debris,” he said. “The tractor was on the opposite side of the road and drove past me. Debris was flying everywhere and, although I slowed down, I felt the tyres go and I hit the ground hard. If there had been warning signs, I would have taken an alternative route that day.”

“Aside from injuries all down my left hand side, the bike suffered about £500 of damage. I accept that the occasional puncture is inevitable and that I do face the risk of coming off the bike.

“However, we are landowners too, albeit on a very small scale, and I know that there is a clear responsibility to warn road users of potential hazards and to clear the road as soon as possible. This was not an isolated incident – I know of other cyclists that have similar accidents and cars have had tyres punctured as well.”

Christian Shotton of legal firm Russell Jones and Walker, which represented Ebben, said: “This is a common problem in rural areas and this case should act as a warning to anyone who carries out works on or near to a road.

“The Highways Act is clear that if you are carrying out works that will create a hazard, you must use barriers or signs to prevent danger and warn of its existence. If you don’t and a third party suffers an injury or losses, you could be liable and negligent.”


Chris Peck of CTC, the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation, said: “Landowners, local authorities and construction companies should take this case seriously. Many members of CTC are prevented from using certain roads for part of the year because of hedge clippings and other road debris illegally left on the highway”.