A TRIATHLETE has told how he’s been left struggling to get back on his bike after breaking his collarbone, ribs and pelvis after hitting a pothole while cycling along a country lane near Stourbridge.

Paul Hughes, from Great Witley, came off his bike on a hill in Sugar Loaf Lane, at Iverley, near Stourbridge, on October 22, 2022.

Fifteen months on, Paul has told how he’s still suffering pain from the injuries sustained and he was shocked to discover the stretch of road has not been repaired.

He said: “It’s really not right that the pothole is still there, it’s dreadful. Lots of people like to get out on their bikes but it’s dangerous, and it seems to get more and more dangerous each year.”

Paul spent 10 days in Russells Hall Hospital after sustaining a broken collar bone, multiple rib fractures, a pelvic fracture and fracture of T6 spinous process, which affects the spinal cord, in the accident. He also damaged a lung and had multiple bruises and grazes, including a black eye and scratches to his face.

Stourbridge News:  Paul Hughes pictured in hospital after his accident Paul Hughes pictured in hospital after his accident (Image: FBC Manby Bowdler)

As a result, he has sought help from Midlands law firm FBC Manby Bowdler to launch a personal injury claim against Staffordshire County Council for compensation.

Adam Wilson, a senior associate with FBC Manby Bowdler, said: “Potholes and poorly maintained roads are a major problem in the UK, and it’s getting worse.

“We all know councils are short of money, but human lives are at risk when roads are left in this state. It’s bad enough when a car gets damaged by a pothole, but for a cyclist the consequences can be life-changing, and even life-threatening.

“That this pothole hasn’t been repaired in more than a year is a disgrace. Paul faces years of pain as he recovers from his injuries, and it is only right that he is compensated for his loss of earnings and his suffering.”

On the day of the incident, Paul had been riding his specialist Pinarello 8k road bike along Sugar Loaf Lane away from Stourbridge and was about half a mile past the tennis club when he came off his bike.Stourbridge News: The stretch of Sugar Loaf Lane where the accident happenedThe stretch of Sugar Loaf Lane where the accident happened (Image: FBC Manby Bowdler)

He said: “I was lucky that two cyclists going the other way heard the crash and doubled back, and they called the ambulance. I can’t remember much about it, but looking back now I was quite lucky.”

Paul, aged 57, managed to return to his job as a groundsman around two months later but he has since been made redundant – attributing the layoff to being physically unable to work at the same speed.

Before the incident – he was a competition cyclist and triathlete, having completed many competitive events and charity rides and been cycling since his teens.

Stourbridge News: Triathlete Paul Hughes riding in the Alps in 2015Triathlete Paul Hughes riding in the Alps in 2015 (Image: Handout)

The accident, however, has left him still suffering pain and psychologically struggling to get back into cycling.

He said: “I went with a friend back to the road where it happened. He made me ride down it and it was horrendous - I had a panic attack halfway down.

“I used to make excuses to go out on my bike – now I make excuses not to.  I hope I can get back into it, but I need to get my confidence back.”

Staffordshire County Council said it could not comment on any pending legal action but the authority’s cabinet member for highways and transport David Williams said: “We are sorry to hear of this incident.

"We have one of the largest road networks in the country and keeping our highways in a good state of repair remains an ongoing and costly challenge.

“Last year, we completed around 16,000 pothole jobs around the county, which often consist of two or three potholes.”

He said inspectors last inspected the area in November 2023 and added: “The recent very wet weather has seen a rise in new pothole reports. Our crews, when they’re not dealing with flooding or storms, will be carrying out numerous temporary and permanent repairs to the roads.

“All reported issues are inspected as soon as possible and assessed for their severity, and we deal with any defect that poses an immediate risk as a priority.

"We would encourage people to report potholes to us via our website www.staffordshire.gov.uk/ReportIt.”

The council recently announced it would be investing an extra £50 million into road repairs over the next three years.

Anyone else who has had problems on the same stretch of Sugar Loaf Lane is asked to contact Adam Wilson on 01902 392469 or email adam.wilson@fbcmb.co.uk