As Bradley Wiggins breaks his ribs in a cycling accident, an open letter to Britain's motorists

Our writer was horrifically injured when hit by a lorry last year. Here he argues that the onus should be on motorists to prove that they obeyed the rules

Share
Related Topics

The shattering effect of being hit by a lorry while cycling still impacts heavily on my life, both physically and psychologically. Whenever I hear of another cyclist being hit it produces a physical responce. I literally shake, I feel sick, I can feel the blood draining away from my cheeks.

This morning’s incident may have had more than a few people shuddering alongside me because it involved Tour de France hero, Olympic Gold Medallist and sports personality of the year elect Bradley Wiggins. So naturally it topped the early news bulletins.

Tone

What I found interesting was the tone of the early conversation about the incident and the questions that were being asked. These included: Was Wiggo wearing a helmet? Did he have on a florescent bib, was he carrying a bright pink sign with neon flashing lights bearing the legend “watch out, innocent cyclist abroad”. I made the last one up. But you know what I mean.

Here’s what I’d like to know: Was the driver looking where they were going? Did they check their blind spot, looking over their shoulder as well as in the mirror before setting off? Were they using a mobile phone, or fiddling with the stereo, or the blowers, or the sat nav?

Why were these questions not being asked? Why is it always the responsibility of the cyclist to ensure that a car or other vehicle sees them (with that pink sign perhaps) rather than the motorist’s responsibility to look.

I write not just as an ex-cyclist but as a motorist of two decades’ standing. I have a perfectly clean licence that has never been sullied by so much as a point because I do all of the above. I look, I make sure that when there are cyclists about I give them plenty of room and I don’t streak past them unless I’m able to give them a wide berth, regardless of whether the idiot behind me starts tail gating, pipping on their horn, flashing their lights and gesticulating in my mirrors. Which often happens if I simply happen to be obeying the speed limit when I’m driving in London, let alone paying due heed to the cyclist in front of me.

Respect

I do this for the simply reason that when I get behind the wheel of two tonnes of metal and plastic, I treat it with respect because if not I could kill someone.

I’m not being pious. It’s a simple fact. Nor am I trying to say that I’m a perfect driver; I just obey the safety rules. And the speed limit. Even when there aren’t camera’s around (note to people who moan about them - if you don’t want a fine then just obey the speed limit. It really isn’t that hard). 

I don’t want to pre-judge the outcome of the police investigation into the incident referred to above. It may just have been a genuine accident. These things sometimes happen. And at least Wiggo appears not to have been seriously hurt.

But the way the immediate question always asked when it comes to accidents involving bikes with other vehicles is “was the cyclist on the slender metal frame being good” rather than “was the motorist in the machine capable of killing obeying the rules” infuriates me.

I’m a motorist. The onus should first of all be on us to answer “yes” to the second question. If all of us did, there would be a lot of people who have been needlessly killed on our roads alive today. They’re not all just cyclists, either. There are innumerable pedestrians and other motorists in that group.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition