A CYCLIST airlifted to hospital following a serious accident has told how wearing a helmet saved her life.

Fiona Illingworth suffered serious injuries following the collision with a car on a rural road between Malton and Easingwold.

She remembers very little of the incident eight months ago, in which she suffered three cracked ribs, a permanent facial scar, numerous cuts and bruises, lost two front teeth and still suffers from concussion due to a serious head injury.

Fiona is now urging other cyclists to wear a helmet, as part of a North Yorkshire Police blog for the force’s summer 2020 cycle safety campaign.

“Issues with my balance have meant that I struggle to ride a bike and I’m lucky if I can do 20 miles these days,” said Fiona, of Hambleton. “But I was determined to get back on a bike.”

She says her cycling helmet saved her life and now she is urging other cyclists to always wear one, even if they’re only riding for a minute or two.

“I was genuinely shocked when I saw the bashing my helmet had sustained, that could have been my skull,” she said.

“If I’d not been wearing a helmet, I know for sure I would not be here to tell the tale.

“I’ve shared my story because I can. Think about it. If you are going out on a bike … no matter how short a journey, no matter how confident or indestructible you feel, please wear a helmet.”

There have been 230 reported collisions involving cyclists in North Yorkshire in the past year. Forty-six have involved serious injuries needing hospital treatment and, sadly, there have been four fatalities.

Almost 70 of those collisions have happened since lockdown began in late March.

North Yorkshire Police says the recent collisions are due to a combination of factors, including more people choosing to take up cycling, more inexperienced riders, people spending more time on their bike, good weather and a minority of motorists who were driving at higher-than-normal speeds due to quiet roads.

This summer, North Yorkshire Police is working with cyclists, drivers and other road users to encourage safer driving.

Motorists are being advised to expect more cyclists, especially on rural roads, and remember to pass with at least a 1.5-metre gap.

Fiona’s full blog is here northyorkshire.police.uk/news/this-advice-saved-my-life/