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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones