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Hedge obscures the view of Walcote Lane from Glebe Farm exit and is highly dangerous

Reported in the Hedges / Trees on road or verge category anonymously at 20:46, Monday 11 May 2020

Sent to Warwickshire County Council less than a minute later

Please read the statement of the accident below.

If this is not a private hedge and is the property of Warwickshire or Stratford District Council, then it needs to be cut down before someone gets seriously hurt, including the owners and connected parties who are living in Glebe Farm or more likely some driver, rider, who like me would not be aware of this serious, but totally unnecessary black-spot.

STATEMENT OF THE INCIDENT ROAD TRAFFIC INCIDENT ON WEDNESDAY 29TH APRIL @ 09:06 OUTSIDE GLEBE FARM HOUSE, MILL LANE, ASTON CANTLOW

I was on cycle ride on Wednesday 29th April and I was travelling along Wilmcote Lane in the direction of Aston Cantlow shortly before 9am.

I was riding a black Boardman hybrid bike (i.e not a full racing bike). This is one of two bikes that I own and is the one that I call my winter bike, as it had rained overnight and I prefer not to use my summer bike in such conditions. My winter bike has good knobbly tyres to handle any poor conditions and is the slower of the two bikes.

Despite the overnight rain, the roads were dry except for the very occasional puddle.

I was wearing a bright orange rain jacket, which I always wear for visibility and a bright white helmet.

Just before 09:06 I was travelling along Wilmcote Lane being followed by a farm vehicle. My Strava App has recorded an average speed that day of 15.7mph and as Wilmcote Lane is flat, I believe I was probably travelling at 15.7mph. Strava recorded the time of the accident @ 9:06am.

I was aware of the farm vehicle behind me and indicated left to inform the driver that I was moving off Wilmcote Lane into Mill Lane. Just before the entrance to Mill Lane (which is 15 yards from Glebe Farm House drive), I noticed two puddles. As I approached both these hazards, I slowed down.

The first puddle was the breadth of the road covering the white line between Wilmcote Lane and Mill Lane. This puddle was only about 2 feet in length. The second puddle was 2 yards further on and covered most of the left-hand carriageway of Mill Lane. It emanated from the grass verge and was much longer, probably about 2 to 3 yards in length.

In order to go through the shallowest part of the 2nd large puddle, I moved towards the middle of Mill Lane. N.B. This action should have made me more visible to any driver pulling out of your drive.

As I steered back towards the left-hand-side of my lane, conscious that the farm vehicle could still be following me, I noticed the side of your grey SUV, stationary and covering approximately 2/3rds of the Walcote bound Carriageway, less than 10 yards in front of me. I estimate that this gave me just over one second to react.

Even at less than 10 yards I remember thinking, if I apply the brakes steadily, I have a good chance of stopping in time or at worst hitting the driver’s door at a speed that would not see me go over the handle bars. In retrospect, I think given the stopping distance of less than 10 yards at an estimated speed of 13mph to 14mph, this initial thinking was probably unrealistic.

It is now my opinion, that had I hit your car head on, I would have catapulted over the handle bars and gone head first into your driver’s window. I suspect, that the injuries I would have sustained would have been a lot worse and possibly life-changing or even life-threatening had the accident followed that course.

Fortunately, it did not. The action of steering back towards the left-hand-side of the road, combined with passing through the two puddles, which wetted the tyres and even a slight pressure to the rear brake, caused the rear wheel to spin-out to the right and whip around 180 degrees, so the impact of the accident was with the back wheel connecting with and under the driver’s-side wheel with myself travelling backwards and sliding along the floor.

The impact was severe enough to buckle the back wheel, cause the wheel to jump out of its retention bolts, bend the gears and the force of my 14 stone body bent the seat post to a 45 degree angle.

I lay there for a few seconds. I do not believe that I had been knocked unconscious, but was not sure. My head certainly whipped from a central position and banged heavily on the left side causing my helmet to buckle. I also had a large graze and bruising to my left shoulder and a knock on the inside of my left ankle as it had connected with the frame of my bike. For the first few hours afterwards, I thought that this was the only damage that I had sustained.

So, when you first asked if I was OK, my response was a tentative yes, as I was able to extract myself from the wreckage and stand-up without problem.

I believe there were two witnesses to the incident, although I did not take any names at the time, as I was in too much shock. One was the driver of the farm vehicle that was following me and the other I believe was walking towards Glebe Farm House, in the opposite direction to my travel. Both of them stopped to observe what happened next.

What happened next did neither of us any favours.

The next words I heard from you were, “You were travelling fast”. My first reaction was to ignore this statement, as it was pretty obvious that a cycle is the slowest vehicle on the road and as I have described above I was travelling at between 13mph and 14mph at the time I started to brake. So my first thought was to ignore your statement.

It was also pretty obvious to all, that you had pulled out of your drive, whilst there was on-coming traffic coming from Wilmcote Lane, which is less than 15 yards from your drive and that traffic included me and a very very large farm vehicle. You had clearly not observed either my bike or the very very large farm vehicle until it was too late. Both vehicles were brightly coloured, me in my orange jacket and I believe the farm vehicle was a bright yellow. When you did observe me/us, you were already 2 meters into the road and at that point you stopped your vehicle, but did not have time to reverse out of the carriageway.

However, when you repeated the statement for a 2nd and I believe a 3rd time, I reacted by thanking you for your initial words asking after my health, but stated that you were now just concerned about who’s fault the accident was. I believe that the 2nd and 3rd time you made your statement that you were attempting to appeal to the two witnesses for their support. They did not offer any verbal support to your statements, I am not aware that they made any other gestures supporting your statement either.

At that point, with my initial relief at being OK was now turning to anger at your provocative behaviour, I stated that you had clearly pulled-out without looking. You responded by stating that you had a mirror opposite, which you use to exit, the blind corner from Wilmcote Lane.

With you clearly now just trying to deflect all blame and blame me for the accident, I lost my temper and told you to “F Off” and asked you to reverse your vehicle, as my back wheel was jammed under your wheel and then asked you to just disappear, which you did.

I apologies unreservedly for my temper, but I hope you can understand the circumstances now and what I was feeling at the time. I can understand that you were probably shaken up too, to some extent, and that was probably the cause of your poor behaviour.

After you left, I assessed your claim that your visibility was good, due to the mirror. I located the mirror, which was on the floor, under the “Mill Lane” road sign and I was shocked to discover that half of the mirror was obscured by grass growth (see photograph included). In my opinion, that mirror is completely unsatisfactory due to its poor low level position and the fact that the grass more than partly obscured your view.

In fact your reliance on this mirror was extremely complicit to the fact that you failed to observe me and the farm vehicle that was following me. A passer-by from the village later informed me that you have not been at the house very long and the mirror on the floor use to be quote “much higher”.

I called my wife and she came and collected me and the bike. After bathing the wounds to my shoulder and my ankle, I called the police to report the accident at approx. 11:00 hours. I was told at that point that you had not called the police to report the accident, which I was also told that you should have done.

Later during the afternoon, I developed a mild headache, which remained until bedtime and at that point I became concerned that I might have suffered a head injury. I was concerned about going to sleep with a possible head injury and called 111 for advice at 23:20 hours. They actually sent two policeman, to whom a reported the incident for a 2nd time (crime reference number 77-29/4/20) and an ambulance. After being checked-over (case ID Q33J12FAH), I was discharged and advised to take paracetamol and ibuprofen. However, I did not have a full range of neck movement and this has continued since and is causing some problems.

End of Statement

Peter Cook

Monday 11th May 2020 The following is not part of the statement, but is my opinion having considered the events

As stated I believe I have been very very lucky in this accident. The luck being that the my braking, the angle that the bike was travelling at and the slightly wet conditions, flukeishly caused the rear wheel to spin 180 degrees, which :-

A) Caused me to fall before the impact and b) My rear wheel to hit your driver’s-side wheel

Had the front wheel of my bike collided with your car that would have catapulted me over the bars and into your driver’s door/window.

In my opinion my injuries would have potentially been much more severe had I had a front-on collision with your driver’s door/window. I believe therefore that I was very very lucky indeed.

I also used to ride a motorbike. I did so from 2005 to 2016 and covered 25,000 miles in that period including two trips into Europe. I did so without accident or any incident whatsoever.

I believe that had I been on that motorbike, there is in extremely high percentage chance, that you would also not have observed my approach, especially as those puddles would have been less of a hazard to a motorcycle and I would have been taking a tighter line into Mill Lane.

Having ridden on two-wheeled vehicles all my life, this was the first accident that I have had in 60 years with a moving or stationary vehicle. Part of riding on two wheels safely, involves defence mechanisms, which when being approached by traffic from the left involves eye contact with the driver: attention to the car’s offside front wheel to make sure that it remains stationary throughout and using the width of the road, subject to there being no other threat from on-coming or traffic from behind should the vehicle from the left begin to move. Your hedge (if it is your property) denied me access to all those defence mechanisms.

I am also convinced that any motorbike coming around that corner would probably expect to do so safely at a speed in excess of 20mph, at a conservative estimate.

Motorbike brakes are in general less effective than brakes on cycles as motorbikes weigh an average of 100 kilos and are clearly more difficult to stop.

Had that been a motorbike, I have no doubt that given the same amount of time to stop, the impact would have been huge, with the rider hitting your car around the driver’s side door and for sure being catapulted over the their bars into your door/window with potentially fatal consequences or at best severe injury.

I also observed two young children playing in the window after you left. I do not know of course whose children these are, but I think it is safe to assume that they would be being carried on the back seat of any car leaving that drive at Glebe Farm House.

My conclusion is that your lack of visibility from that drive is putting drivers’/riders’ lives at risk, you and your partner’s lives at risk and those children’s lives at risk.

I implore you to take effective action to prevent another accident, which could have far greater consequences.

It is my belief that you should remove the hedge which is the problem on providing visibility to traffic coming from Wilmcote Lane.

I do not believe that you should continue to rely on a mirror, let alone one that is so badly positioned and maintained. This accident happened in relatively good conditions and on a bright and light day. Your reliance on the mirror in poor conditions and/or poor light or even during the night is entirely unsatisfactory.

The hedge in my opinion needs to be removed immediately to prevent a further accident.

As you know from this letter, the accident has been reported to the Police. I am a regular rider through Aston Cantlow and hope that you take this advice and make improvements to your line of sight.

As a consequence of this accident, you are now in an awkward and liable position, as this incident has been officially recorded at Stratford Police Control. Should you not take the action to remove that hedge and should an event such as this, or worse, occur again, then the consequences for yourself would be much more severe from a legal perspective.

I and you, got away with this very lightly. Please, please take action do not let this happen again.

I have copied this statement of the accident and my opinion of what needs to be done to Warwickshire Road Traffic, in the event that the hedge is not your property and the responsibility of Warwickshire County Council or Stratford District Council to maintain.

In the appendix below is a recommendation of how much of the hedge needs to be removed or cut down to a height of less than 4 feet to enable full line of sight from your drive and prevent any further accident occurring due to a completely unnecessary blind-spot created by the hedge. APPENDIX

From the chart below, which is well recognised by many observers, the safe stopping distance for a motorcycle travelling between 20mph and 30mph is between 12 metres and 23 metres. N.B. 12 metres is the distance from your drive to the junction, so no vehicle once it has entered Mill Lane, as I had already done, would have been able to stop if you pull out of that drive erroneously.

This means that the exit to your drive requires to see 31 metres along Walcote Lane. As stated above it is 12m to the junction from your drive exit to the junction, so 31m plus 12m will provide the necessary 43m to prevent a motorcycle accident travelling at an excessive speed of 30mph for that corner.

This can easily be achieved by cutting down the hedge either completely or to a level, probably less than 4 feet high, that provides a view from a seated driver’s position to the point on the map below, designated by the arrow. So the hedge should be cut down to a point that is in a parallel with the right side of your property.

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Updates

  • Warwickshire County Council has received your report which will be reviewed accordingly. There are no automatic updates to the status of this report - this is something we are working on as part of the improvements to fault reporting.

    Posted by County Highways at 10:23, Wednesday 13 May 2020

  • I have now spoken with the driver and the owner of the property, that has it's exit onto Mill Lane Aston Cantlow blinded by this hedge. I and the driver/owner believe that it is your responsibility to A) maintain that hedge and B) maintain the mirror that allows him and his wife and other visitors to exit the drive in their cars with some safety**

    ** The safest course of action would be to cut the hedge down.

    I understand from the driver/owner that there have now been many accidents as a result of that hedge and one accident included one of your own bin lorries when a blind-sided driver came around the corner and drove into the stationary bin vehicle. Had one of your operatives been working at the back of the vehicle at the time, we have no doubt that they would have been either killed or suffered life-changing injuries.

    I was very very lucky that my accident happened in the way it did. I had less than 1 second to react and brake safely, travelling at less than 15 miles an hour, on what appears to road users to be an innocuous corner. In fact it's not even a corner, to all intense and purposes, it's a straight piece of road.

    In theory I should have hit the driver's door head-on and gone straight over the handle bars, head-first into the driver's window, Had I done so I also could have been killed or suffered life-changing injuries.

    I understand that you have known about this problem for 6 to 8 months, possibly longer and have refused to do anything about it, possibly due to a conservation order.

    I strongly urge you to conserve human life above nature's welfare at this junction. It is a matter of time before a very very serious accident occurs here and one that you as a Council could easily have avoided, but which to date you have refused to.

    I have consulted with a lawyer and I believe that the mirror lying on the floor is your responsibility too. At a minimum that mirror has to be mounted properly.

    I believe that you have been warned about all this on several occasions and that if you continue to ignore the issue, then a criminal charge could well be applied, if a serious accident were to take place.

    My email address is petercook11@hotmail.co.uk and I urge you to a) respond accordingly by emailing me of your intentions on this matter, but b) more urgently, take action and fix a problem that should not be a problem before it's too late

    Posted anonymously at 15:39, Wednesday 20 May 2020

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