Cyclist calls for more respect on the roads

Neil Wilson, pictured before his accident, has called for more mutual respect between drivers and cyclists.
Neil Wilson, pictured before his accident, has called for more mutual respect between drivers and cyclists.

A north Northumberland man has described how a cycling collision which left him with serious head injuries and numerous fractures has impacted his life.

Neil Wilson, who lives near Berwick, was cycling home from work in Wooler when he was hit by a car near Crookham on September 30, 2015.

The 46-year-old, a former secretary of Berwick Wheelers and a keen local bike racer, went through the windscreen of the BMW X5, suffering serious head injuries and a collapsed lung.

He also sustained multiple fractures to his vertebrae, arm, ribs and face as well as a broken pelvis and extensive nerve damage.

The driver, Keith Elstob, of the Blue Bell Inn, Crookham, was found guilty of driving without due care and attention by the District Judge Sarah-Jane Griffiths at South-East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday.

In her summing up, Judge Griffiths stated: “You have always maintained this was an accident. It was not. You had no reason not to see Mr Wilson. You were driving carelessly.”

Mr Elstob received nine penalty points on his licence and the highest level of fine available, a total of £1,412.

Now Mr Wilson has called on all road users to have more respect for each other, especially on rural roads.

He said: “This incident has had a devastating effect on my life, I spent two months in hospital and my rehabilitation continues even now, I am still trying to get my life back together but it is incredibly hard.”

Mr Wilson, a father of two young daughters, continued: “Cycling is such a great sport, for everyone. It should be encouraged, everyone should appreciate fewer cars on the road, as well as the health benefits for those on the bike.

“I would ask everyone to use the roads with mutual respect and appreciate that at the end of the day we should all be able to get home safely to the ones we love.”

Mr Wilson is now studying to be a cycling coach and wants to promote safe and healthy cycling for all. He continues his rehabilitation on the bike.

Rachel Botterill, of law firm Leigh Day, who is representing Mr Wilson in a civil case, said: “We are pleased that this case has now resulted in a guilty verdict but were frustrated by the driver’s refusal to accept any responsibility for this incident which has resulted in the criminal proceedings being drawn out for over a year.

“We share the view that everyone should be able to enjoy cycling safely. I am extremely pleased that due to his hard work and commitment to his physical and mental rehabilitation, Mr Wilson has been able to get back in the saddle and enjoy cycling once again.”