An 83-year-old cyclist who has been riding bikes for years suffered multiple injuries in the worst fall of his life — not while riding — but wheeling his bike as he descended steps built to improve access on a Devon cycle route that climbs a steep rise.
The path, which runs behind Torre Station through Torquay woodland, cost £350,000 to build and includes a steep staircase where cyclists push their bike through a gulley while climbing or descending the 30 steps. It was opened in 2016 to offer riders a route away from the busy main road.
(Crownhill Rise entrance to the cycle route)
Ron Keegan fell while trying to negotiate the steps in cleats, tumbling down the steep incline, suffering a list of "cuts and bruises, various wounds and aches and pains" and prompting a five-hour stay at hospital.
A former road racer who can also count Land's End to John O'Groats amongst his cycling achievements. He told Devon Live the steps are "crazy" and he would like to see a ramp replace them.
"There was going to be a ramp, but maybe it was too expensive to do. The path was supposed to be accessible to wheelchair users and the like, but they ended up with steps," he explained.
"People used to build follies, and this is a folly. It's crazy, and totally inappropriate. I accept I was wearing cycling shoes with exposed cleats, and they're not designed for walking in, and in retrospect I should have looked down the steps and turned around and gone back. But those steps have just been an accident waiting to happen. It did happen, and I was the victim.
"I somersaulted three times. Sure, I was wearing cycling shoes, but what do you want me to wear when I'm cycling? The bike ran away with me and I took a tumble. I spent five hours in the Minor Injuries Unit at Newton Abbot.
"I have cuts and bruises, various wounds and aches and pains. I have cuts on my knees, my elbows and my face. My nose is cut and I'm bruised all over. I'm in a bit of a state."
He is asking the council to put up a warning sign to try to avoid any future incidents.
The council responded to the fall, saying the steps were built to national design guidance at the time of construction, but "when funding becomes available, we plan to improve this route by installing a ramp to connect the upper and lower paths."
"It overcomes a technical difficulty with the difference in level at this location. Whilst this is not an ideal solution, it does provide a safe and useable facility for a very short section of the route," a spokesperson said.
"In the meantime, cycles can be pushed with care. The steps have been in use since 2016. In the short term, we'll ensure that the steps are clear of any overgrowth."
In the absence of pictures of the location, a social media search found similar comments of its unsuitability for those with bikes.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I first came across them just after they opened that “route”. No money for a ramp, but plenty for junction redesigns 👍
— Riviera Rider (@RiderRiviera) July 10, 2020
Last April, the topic of steps causing problems for those on two wheels was covered on this website after a temporary bridge on a canal path in Nottingham was dubbed the "Stairway to Hell".
Social media footage showed a rider struggling to carry her Brompton up the steep stairs – but can't get it down the 40-degree slope once at the top.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.