A doctor who suffered life changing injuries after his legs were crushed in a cycling accident has warned more needs to be done to make London’s roads safer.
Dr Mark Rickets, 52, was cycling to his surgery when he suffered horrific injuries to both his legs when a truck cut across his lane and trapped him between a set of metal railings. The stricken GP was left screaming in pain as his legs were crushed by the frame of the bicycle as the front wheels of the lorry drove over the bike.
The married father-of-two suffered multiple injuries including devastating crush injuries and fractures to his lower legs and feet as well as multiple deep lacerations leaving him unable to walk unaided. Dr Rickets has now warned road users to be more aware of cyclists after London was hit by a sixth cycling fatality in just two weeks.
Dr Rickets said, “Boris Johnson says London is a safe city to cycle in but if you look at the figures, it really isn’t very safe. There needs to be much more education and a two-way understanding between cyclists and motorists, especially lorry drivers.
“It is difficult in a city like London, where it is not designed to have cycle pathways, to make it safe for cyclists, but that does not mean we cannot do more - such as removing railings on the roads where they are not needed. Both cyclists and motorists need to be more aware of the dangers they both pose and face on the roads. More education on both sides would be a real help and save lives.”
Dr Rickets was cycling to work along Upper Clapton Road on July 16, 2007 when a lorry suddenly changed lanes and cut across his path. Trapped between the lorry and a row of steel railings, the panic stricken cyclist shouted in vain to get the drivers attention as the vehicle began bearing down on him.
In a last ditch bid to escape the on-coming lorry Dr Rickets attempted to leap off and over the railings but failed as he feet become caught up in the frame of his bicycle. He was left in agony as the crushing weight of the lorry rolled the bicycle and crushed his legs leaving him with devastating injuries including a number of broken bones and severe cuts.
Dr Rickets said, “To see a huge lorry moving towards you at speed is terrifying especially when you are blocked in by railings and left with nowhere to go. As a cyclist you get used to near misses with traffic and I had always said to myself I would just leap off my bike if I was ever in trouble and I attempted to jump over the railing but I couldn’t do it and the next thing I knew my legs were caught within the frame.
“I remember lying on the road side and the pain was sickening. I was screaming in agony and as a doctor I knew I was in a bad way. People gathered around and looked horrified. I was taken to Homerton Hospital and immediately I was concerned that I may lose my leg. Luckily the staff were wonderful and after multiple operations I still have my legs.”
The accident turned Dr Rickets’ life upside down. His injuries left him wheelchair bound for three months and even then he was only able to walk with crutches and a leg brace. He subsequently lost his position as a GP at the Nightingale Practice, Hackney, where he had been a partner.
However six years on from the accident he has now rebuilt his life and is back working part time at Nightingale Practice. He was also awarded a substantial settlement figure after contacting law firm Slater and Gordon.
Dr Rickets said, “These injuries were life changing for me. I have always been very active and used to enjoy cycling and keeping fit and that was taken away from me by the accident. My legs were crushed to pieces and frankly it is miraculous that I was even able to walk again so I do in many ways count myself as fortunate.
“However it has still been a very long and hard road to recovery. The most difficult part was not being able to go for walks with my wife or play with my children like I wanted. You would see friends pick up their children and lift them on their shoulders, it was very upsetting to realise that I wouldn’t be able to do that, but you just have to adjust and adjust I have. I’m happy to be alive and see my children grow up. As a lover of cycling I now hope that London can become a safer place for cyclists.”
Slater and Gordon Personal Injury Lawyer Liz Dux said, “Dr Rickets sustained horrific injuries in a cycle accident that was no fault of his own. He has undergone multiple painful surgical procedures to both legs and has been left with permanent deformity. Not only did he lose his mobility but also his career as a leading partner in a London GP practice.
“He will never be able to work full time in a clinical capacity again. The agreed damages go some way to providing him with a security of income for the future, but his disabilities will remain permanent. London’s roads have to be made safer for cyclists. Dr Rickets was a careful rider but however cautious you are, those on two wheels remain highly vulnerable especially to larger vehicles."
Liz Dux is a Personal Injury Group Practice Leader at Slater and Gordon in London.
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