LOCAL cyclist Shirin Sherkat-Khameneh is outraged as the local authority continue to ignore her pleas to improve the cycle path where she suffered a horrendous accident four years ago.

Shirin fractured her skull after colliding with the inside wall of the old Eshiels railway tunnel, near Peebles.

Knocked unconscious, the business analyst from Innerleithen spent three days in Borders General Hospital.

The 62-year-old's road to recovery has taken both determination and effort.

Despite being awarded compensation during a three-year legal battle, she feels let down by the local authority's reluctance to carry out improvements.

Shirin told the Peeblesshire News: "Sadly, when local councils fail to listen to experts and ignore the warnings of cyclists, accidents happen.

"I was very badly injured, but consider myself lucky.

"Fighting this case has been important to give the council a wake-up call and urge them to make the improvements to the cycle path.

"I do not want to see someone lose a life before something is done.”

The tunnel is located just east of the town and runs underneath Innerleithen Road (A72) as part of the Tweed Valley Railway Path (TVRP) linking Peebles and Innerleithen.

At 50 metres long, it narrows unexpectedly as it bends and dips towards the east-ward exit.

Cycling is made even more hazardous by the uneven surface and loose stones around the drainage areas.

And with no markings, signs or lighting, riders can be unexpectedly faced with darkness.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) was responsible for the design of the path ahead of it opening up to walkers and cyclists in 2013.

The tunnel is part of a six mile route linking the communities of Peebles, Eshiels, Cardrona and Innerleithen, and is aimed at developing cycling-related activity in the area.

After her accident, SBC agreed to compensate Ms Sherkat-Khameneh for her injuries.

Officers also claim to be planning improvements.

A spokesman said: “We are committed to making some improvements and are working on this alongside Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity.”

However, Ms Sherkat-Khameneh worries that a lack of urgency could cost a life.

She has been working alongside Brenda Mitchell of Peebles-based Cycle Law Scotland throughout her case.

Ms Mitchell told us: "Shirin is an extremely positive and determined person who has had to work through a lot of changes to her life since the accident. It has never been about the compensation for her.

"It has always been about making the council take heed of the warnings.”

Brenda is also a cyclist who frequents the tunnel.

She brought in specialist experts and civil engineers to illustrate the simple measures the council should have taken to make the path safe.

She added: “The TVRP is a great use of public funds and allows for segregated cycling between Peebles and Innerleithen.

"It’s vital that the council take on board the recommendations made by the consultants.

"It’s rather obvious that a tunnel, with no lighting and a slightly skewed alignment presents an acute hazard to cyclists. It was reasonably foreseeable that accidents such as that which befell Shirin were likely to happen.

“What is of great concern now is that four years on, and with an increasing number of cyclists on the path, the council has made no attempt to improve safety at the tunnel.

"We would like to see measures put in place that ensure cyclists can see the tunnel path clearly, including lighting, edge markings or reflectors and warning signs to indicate the potential dangers."