Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Right, here's a link for you.

A girl on a bike got wiped out by a lorry in the Strand. I don't know precisely what happened, all i've heard (from @branchenergy on twitter) is that the lorry was turning left. The girl is hurt and in hospital, but not a 'life threatening' injury. The bike is scrap.

Not nice, not something i'll bet either the cyclist or driver wanted to happen. So why did it happen? I wasn't there and i don't know, not in this particular case. What i do know is that drivers sometimes fail to check the inside (lefthand) mirrors when they're turning. They should, but there's a lot to watch out for in a large vehicle and if the gap is too small for a car to squeeze down (or even sometimes when it is) and there was nothing on the inside when you stopped, and you're checking the lights and the space you're going to swing into on the other side of the road and any number of other things, it's easy to forget. Not much of a problem anyway, there's nothing there, is there?
Now a cyclist, wanting to get up to the front, sees a gap that, while too small for a car, is just wide enough for a bike and doesn't happen to notice the left hand indicator flashing (if it's on, that gets forgotten too sometimes, or pops off as the steering turns). Cyclists are supposed to follow lane discipline just like any other road user, i'm pretty sure that's in the highway code somewhere, that means not squeezing between lanes of traffic at the lights. But we're only human, we all do things we're not supposed to. Or forget things we are.
So you've got two road users, both of whom are being a bit naughty and not doing what they're supposed to, and they both stand to suffer the consequences of their actions, the driver might get a fine, loose his licence or his job, even get a prison sentence, though that's not very likely. The cyclist? Well they won't get a fine, they just might not have to worry about walking afterwards. Or breathing in a distressingly large number of cases. If that hasn't quite sunk in, i am talking about wheelchairs and coffins. Got that? Not nice at all.

Naturally we can prevent this and make everything all nice and safe by changing the law, making lorries fit all sorts of weird and wonderful mirrors and warning devices, and bringing in tougher sentences for negligent drivers, so that next time two people in the same situation make the same mistakes and get distracted and forgetful, we can just wave our magic wand and bring a squashed cyclist back from the dead, yes?

The point
People forget things and get distracted, they shouldn't and it's wrong but they do. If you ride a bike, PLEASE DON'T SQUEEZE up the side of lorries in traffic. Apart from anything else, it's a waste of a good bike.

1 comment:

  1. I do ride a bike, and I do squeeze up the side of lorries, buses, cars and anything else that is queueing up at the lights but... I also look for anything with a left-hand indicator on, and generally don't squeeze past anything unless they are stationary and will remain stationary for the length of time it takes me to squeeze past. It's not the squeezing past that's the problem; it's still being beside the lorry when it starts to move!