It was a beautiful sunny day in July 2012 and Kieran McCotter had been out training for the Lap the Lough charity ride when he became another cycling accident statistic.
Despite being dressed in bright clothing and a white helmet and riding a white bike on a straight road, a van driver emerging from a junction failed to see him, colliding with the Portadown man and catapulting him six feet into the air.
Kieran (54), who was cycling with friend Glyn Lilley at the time, was lucky in that an oncoming police car witnessed the incident and officers went to his aid instantly.
Although his injuries were serious, he counts himself lucky to be alive. His left shoulder blade was broken, he had a fracture to his left hip and also sustained damage to his neck, spine and left hand.
As an employee in the valeting department of Wilson’s Auctions, Kieran is constantly on his feet and having a full range of movement is crucial to his job. The accident laid him off work for six months and he is still in daily pain.
Since the accident, Kieran has joined Derrykeevan Cycling Club which, he believes, offers him more security and safety than cycling independently.
He said, “There is definitely safety in numbers. We limit our groups to 16, we only ride two abreast and we send the groups out at three-minute intervals. This prevents traffic being held up as that can make drivers very impatient.
“The club also provides proper insurance and is very safety conscious. At our last AGM, the police came out and spoke to us about road safety, about what we as cyclists are permitted to do and about safety equipment.”
He added, “There are some motorists out there who don’t treat cyclists properly. If you are at a red light they will try to get out in front of you or they drive too close or blare the horn.
“But it’s not all the motorists’ fault. There are cyclists too who jump lights or ride three or four abreast. I am a motorist myself, as are most cyclists in our club, and I drove for many years as a chauffeur so I’ve seen it from both sides.”
Despite the accident, Kieran is back cycling again and enjoying it. Having always been safety-conscious, he is even more so now. “I am constantly on websites, trying to find equipment that is the best and is going to protect me the most,” he added.