A FORMER Stramshall woman left paralysed after being knocked off her bicycle by a hit and run driver is urging mutual respect between cyclists and motorists on rural roads.
Lizzie Tench was hit by a trailer and knocked from her bicycle near her then home in Cheshire back in March and sustained a major spinal injury as well as countless other serious injuries.
She was asked to appear on BBC Breakfast to speak about the issue of cycle safety in the wake of the incident involving Olympian and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and is keen to raise awareness of the dangers of cycling in rural areas.
The 38-year-old told the Advertiser: “The issue of rural cycle safety has been somewhat neglected. I had lived in cities for 17-and-a-half-years and ironically I had moved to the country to get away from traffic and that was when I was hit.
“In the interview I was asked what I would like to say to the driver now. My message was to slow down and look in your mirrors and when overtaking make sure you are comfortably past before pulling back in.
“I also want to emphasise the fact that when I was hit I was wearing a helmet and hi-vis gear. I personally believe without the helmet I would have died or been severely brain damaged.
“You can’t control the behaviour of motorists but if you wear the gear and keep focused by not listening to music you have done your part.
“You never think it is going to happen to you. I was not at fault and was highly visible.
“I have started driving again and I have seen motorists doing the craziest things. I want to get across just how vulnerable we are.”
That vulnerability is shown by the fact Ms Tench suffered horrific multiple injuries as a result of the crash which has changed her life forever.
“I did have complete paralysis in the beginning,” she said. “They say there is a two-year window of recovery. The first six weeks you are in spinal shock but after two years what you have is usually what you get although everyone’s recovery is different with spinal injuries.”
The injury has understandably meant a huge life change for Ms Tench but she has received terrific support from her family back in Stramshall.
Her mother Cathy Tench raised almost £15,000 for the Midland’s Air Ambulance through an epic swim in her daughter’s honour.
Ms Tench said: “It has changed things for me. I can’t go back to work as a social worker and I had to give up my home and move to a completely different area.
“My family have been great though and my mum has done a lot and it meant a lot to see them raising money for the air ambulance.”