The face of cycling on Edinburgh’s broken roads

A battered and bruised Chloe Torrance. Picture: Toby Williams

A battered and bruised Chloe Torrance. Picture: Toby Williams


A CYCLIST who faces plastic surgery after a horror spill knocked her out has blamed the poor state of the city’s roads.

Shocked student Chloe Torrance was cycling home from Edinburgh University when she hit a sunken grate and was flung to the ground head first.

The 24-year-old, who suffered a suspected fractured cheekbone and cuts and bruising, has laid the blame for her accident on the shoddy state of the Capital’s roads.

The careful cyclist has told how she constantly has to dodge and swerve around potholes on her commute and is calling on council chiefs to take action before someone is killed.

She said: “The state of the roads are terrible, they’re just left in a state of disrepair.”

Styling herself as the public face of Edinburgh’s crumbling roads infrastructure, she says she was lucky not to be run over and killed following the accident on Russell Road, near Murrayfield Stadium.

She explained: “I was cycling along and it had been raining during the day so the ground was a bit wet. It was the first bridge you get to on the road when the bike just came away from me and I landed on my face.

“I think I blacked out. I was really shocked when I came to as my nose was bleeding and I was covered in blood. It was the worst headache I’d ever had. I didn’t know what had happened. Then I was in an ambulance on my way to hospital. I couldn’t move it or do any facial expressions. I could almost feel the fluid. It was days before I could open my eye again.”

Chloe, of Clermiston Avenue, was doing around 20mph when the front wheel of her bike hit the sunken metal covering, submerged by a puddle of rainwater.

She said she had no time to react as she hit the deck face first and slid along the ground.

Fortunately, two men driving behind her saw her come off and stopped to help. They called an ambulance and waited with her until it arrived.Chloe was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where doctors X-rayed her face, shoulder and knee. She was kept in for observation for 12 hours before being released with painkillers and antibiotics for an infected wound on her hand.

She returned to hospital to see a plastic surgeon but the swelling was so bad they could not say if her cheekbone had broken. She now faces an anxious wait to see if she will need realignment surgery and plastic surgery.

Today Chloe, who only got the bike in summer, warned there would be more accidents unless improvements were made to the roads. “I got a car puncture the week before from the gasworks on Clemiston Road. It’s terrible for potholes all along there from that terrible winter we had two years ago. I don’t know if it’s because all the commotion is with the trams, but other places seem neglected.”

She said more needed to be done to protect cyclists and supported calls for segregated cycle lanes. “It’s such a shame as Edinburgh’s such a small city it should be good to cycle in. I don’t know why they have done the trams, we don’t need them. They should have made a bike network and then people would be much healthier and happier. This has put me off cycling in town.”

Ian Maxwell, spokesman for Lothian cycling group Spokes, said the case highlighted the everyday dangers faced by people on two wheels.

He said Edinburgh risked falling behind other cities if it did not keep up with necessary road repairs.

“We know that our poor road surfaces are one of the key things that put a lot of people off cycling. We feel it’s a really urgent issue for the council as part of their cycle-friendly policy, but not just for cyclists, for all road users,” he said.

“The savings in damage to vehicles, accidents, pedestrians going over, should far outweigh the costs.”

Joanna Mowat, Tory spokeswoman for transport, said the problems were a result of 20 years of under-investment. “We haven’t spent enough on our roads so we’ve got potholes and sunken drains,” she said.

“It’s also about how we manage the works carried out. I don’t think we’ve been managing them to the best of our abilities but I do think it’s starting to improve.

“We have a very poor record of reporting roadworks that are taking too long. It’s not only the case of investing but exploring all the powers open to us making sure utilities are carried out to standard.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh City Council vowed to repair any problems at the hotspot where Chloe crashed. He said: “We wish to express our sympathy for the injuries this cyclist received. We will examine this location thoroughly in order to identify any necessary repairs.”

We told this week how repairs to some of the city’s busiest routes have been put off for at least a year – to avoid adding to the congestion caused by tramworks. Critics have already said the repairs must not be put off indefinitely.

We also revealed how the City faces a possible seven figure compensation pay-out to cyclists injured as a result of injury-causing spills caused by the tramworks.

• Are you a motorist or cyclist who has been affected by a road problem? Call our newsdesk on 0131-620 8733.





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