In the second part of our special report into the dangers faced by cyclists, Noel Collins recalls his experience of being knocked down by a car. Read part one here.
Olympic hopeful Noel Collins knows only too well the dangers associated with cycling. He sustained a shattered knee cap, two broken wrists and had four teeth knocked out after being hit by a car last September in Omagh.
The 22-year-old triathlete, who is on the Triathlon Ireland elite development squad aiming for the Brazil Olympics, has had to take an entire year off from his sport as he continues his rehabilitation.
Noel spoke out this week to call on motorists to be vigilant and respect cyclists on the roads because in the event of a collision, “there will be only one winner.”
While acknowledging that the majority of motorists are respectful, Noel says some regularly beep, shout out the window and whizz past dangerously close.
‘NEEDS TO STOP’
The young triathlete said this ‘impatience and intimidation” needs to stop otherwise more cyclists will be seriously injured or killed.
Noel said, “I was out on a training run and was going along the Great Northern Road as I headed towards Drumquin. Just as I was going past the entrance to the Gortrush Industrial Estate, a man mustn’t have seen me as his car came out of the junction and hit me.
“It is all a bit of a blank. I don’t remember being hit. All I recall is cycling along and the next thing waking up lying across the road.
“I was wearing the proper cycle jacket and was very visible. I would just urge motorists to be aware of cyclists on the roads. There is a lot of impatience out there with motorists.
“I see their point if they are intentionally being held up for a long period of time, but there are many who are just rude, beeping the horn shouting out of the window, even when there is only one cyclist on the road. It can be very intimidating.
“The two by two policy for cyclists is at times for their own safety, but they should also go single file to allow traffic to pass when safe. There has to be give and take from both sides as if there is a collision there is only going to be one winner.”
Almost ten months on from his accident, Noel still suffers repercussions from his accident. He is unable to train properly as his broken bones are still recovering.
The former elite junior Ireland international runner said, “Training was going so well. I was probably in the best shape I have ever been in.
“The accident was a huge setback. I haven’t been able to do any triathlons this year at all. I have to take a complete season off and hope that I can have a good training schedule in the winter so I can be back on track for next year. I have been able to get back on the bike but with the knee problem I still can’t run or train properly.
“Triathlon Ireland has been really good and are giving me time to get healthy again. They are giving me all the support and rehabilitation advice they can.”
READ THE FULL TWO PAGE FEATURE ON CYCLING IN THURSDAY’S ULSTER HERALD