Vince Barton’s life will never be the same again.
The father-of-two’s world was turned upside down when he was hit by a car while cycling to work in an accident that left him unable to use his limbs.
Now he is pleading with motorists to take more care on the roads as figures revealed he was among 125 cyclists – more than two a week – who were hurt in road accidents in our area last year.
Off those, 22 victims were seriously injured and, like Mr Barton, the effects on their lives have been devastating.
The 45-year-old, from Warsash, said: ‘I would say to drivers please take your time and look for bikes. Just taking an extra couple of seconds to check could save a life or save someone like me from serious injury.’
Mr Barton was catapulted from his pushbike in Airport Service Road, Hilsea, and suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury in the accident last January.
He spent five weeks in Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, before being transferred to the spinal unit at Salisbury District Hospital.
There he underwent a gruelling four-operation to remove two discs from his spinal cord and replace them with plastic which was fused together with a titanium plate.
Mr Barton was in hospital for seven-and-half months and is tetraplegic, meaning he struggles to use his hands, can’t walk and and must use a wheelchair.
His life has completely changed – and the woman driver of the car that hit him received only a £500 fine and a six-month driving ban.
Mr Barton’s home has been modified to accommodate his disabilities. There are ramps outside the front and back of the property and a wet room has been built on the ground floor.
The family dining room has been converted into a bedroom with a hospital bed as Mr Barton can no longer get upstairs.
His condition is gradually improving but Mr Barton still undergoes physiotherapy twice a week and takes seven different types of medication a day to help relieve pain and reduce spasms. He added: ‘I get so frustrated by all of the things I can’t do. I used to be active and we enjoyed cycling and camping as a family.
‘I used to be able to do lots of things around the house.
‘I saw a reflection of myself in the window recently. The person who was looking back at me was in a wheelchair. I thought – that’s not me.
Wife Jill, 43, said: ‘I just want people to think and take a little bit of extra care. I’m sure the lady who hit my husband didn’t mean to do it, but the effect of what has happened has been so catastrophic. It’s had a massive impact on all of our lives.
‘Please please can drivers take a few seconds to look where they are going and check for cyclists.
Daughter Romy, 14, said: ‘My dad was wearing a fluorescent jacket and he still got knocked off his bike.
‘Dad’s doing really well but it’s changed our lives a lot.
‘I want to ask everyone to be extra careful when they are driving.’
By Clare Semke