While out training in January 2022, Irish professional cyclist and Škoda ambassador Imogen Cotter was hit by an oncoming vehicle in Girona, Spain. She suffered serious injuries resulting in five surgeries and hundreds of hours of physiotherapy.
Since the collision, Imogen has documented her road to recovery and has recently joined forces with Škoda Ireland and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) on a safety appeal campaign which aims to remind motorists to share the roads safely with those who cycle.
We caught up with Imogen to discuss the newly launched campaign, her goals post-accident and the importance of giving cyclists enough space on the road…
Why did you want to partner with Škoda and the RSA on this important initiative?
I have done some work for Škoda over the last few years, and I am proud to be one of their brand ambassadors. After I had my accident, I felt really empowered to share my story in the hopes that it might change the behaviour of some drivers and their view of cyclists. I also wanted to stress to cyclists that it can happen to anyone, so we should always be alert and abide by the rules of the road. I began sharing my story first via my Instagram, but when Škoda and the RSA approached me about the campaign, it seemed like a natural progression both in regards to sharing my story to a wider audience and also strengthening my working relationship with Škoda, who I really trust.
How has your accident impacted how you view safety as a cyclist?
I’m definitely more aware of how impatient drivers can be towards cyclists. I was always very safe on the roads, and would almost have made fun of myself for being overly cautious before the collision happened. Now I embrace being cautious at all times. I use a light on every ride. I also make sure I use a bike path wherever possible – if I hadn’t been following the rules of the road when I was hit, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue a case against the driver.
Following such a massive setback, how have your career ambitions changed?
It’s difficult to set goals because I am still learning what my post-accident abilities are. I prefer to focus on my progress goals – nailing the day-to-day rather than getting bogged down in thinking too far ahead. I still want to represent Ireland at the European and World Championships, and I still want to ride in a World Tour team, but the timeline on these goals has changed as I am still getting my body back to a new normal. One thing I am looking forward to at the moment is going back to Ireland for the National Championships next month. I also have some lovely hilly races coming up in Italy at the end of the season which will be a real goal for me!
Finally, how can cyclists stay safe while cycling on the road?
Abide by the rules of the road – and don’t skip red lights! I see cyclists doing this so much and I can imagine how much it annoys drivers.
If there is a bike lane, use it. Take more caution in built-up areas.
Use a rear light – I got a great one from an Irish company called See Sense.
Wear something reflective, especially if it’s cloudy and visibility is low. I got a cheap reflective strap vest for €5 that I put on over my kit and it really helps me to stand out.
Get a Road ID bracelet: this has your emergency contacts, date of birth and any medical details on it.
Last but by no means least, always wear a helmet!
Watch Škoda and the RSA’s cycle safety campaign video featuring Imogen Cotter in full:
Make cycle safety a priority at all times with our guide to bike lane etiquette to help keep yourself and other cyclists safe while navigating busy areas.