October 23 2014 Latest news:
Monday, November 19, 2012
OF all the cyclists with whom to have a collision, it happened to be Bradley Wiggins, who is something of a living legend among the British people.
This is what happened as our Tour de France winner was cycling past a petrol station, only for there to be a collision between him and a car.
A day later, his GB cycling coach, Shane Sutton, was also involved in an accident, on the A6, which led to him suffering bleeding on the brain.
We wish them both a speedy recovery.
While not commenting, here, specifically on the Wiggins incident but in general terms, pulling out of petrol stations is a major source of collisions and bike riders are most vulnerable in these situations.
I know because, emerging in my car, it has nearly happened to me on more than one occasion.
It is so easy to miss an oncoming cyclist unless you are particularly observant.
It is not good enough to offer a cursory glance to the right, as most drivers do; drivers need to be at their observant best.
Over 100 cyclists have been killed since the start of the year and this would indicate there have probably been 10 times this number of collisions.
There seems to exist a pack mentality on our roads – motorists versus cyclists.
I’ve heard the belittling accusation from motorists about bike riders – no lights/no bills/no respect – and, undoubtedly, there is a growing number of marauding, aggressive cyclists who jump red lights, hurtle past pedestrians on the pavement and generally ignore the Highway Code.
For sure, cyclists must take some responsibility for road safety, just as brow-beaten motorists are forced to do.
But it is no good persisting with this tribal mentality between the two groups – after all, most cyclists are car drivers as well (and vice versa), so some sort of mutual respect and compatibility should exist.
On a practical level, I would like to see the re-introduction of the cycling proficiency test in schools and it wouldn’t do any harm if all new drivers were made aware of the vulnerability of cycling on main roads as part of their own driving test.
Drivers need to be more observant (particularly when it is dark and raining) and an emphasis on this carefulness has to be part of any driving test.
I remember being taught as I learned to drive – “think once, think twice, think bike”.
One thing is for certain: nearly all collisions on our roads are the result of people not being careful and, as the number of cars and bikes inexorably increase on our roads, it would be imprudent not to address the increasing lack of care manifested by both drivers and cyclists.
It is a shame it takes a serious injury to our most celebrated Olympian to bring this vexing issue into the spotlight.