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Man on bicycle

Killer cyclists

6th Sep 2017
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This week’s column very nearly didn’t appear thanks to the efforts of one man and his bike.

At the end of last week, I had very nearly finished crossing London’s St Martin’s Lane one afternoon when I was suddenly hit on the ankle by a cyclist who appeared from nowhere going at very high speed.

For the avoidance of doubt, I was sober, aware and not listening to music or on a mobile phone.

The only injuries that I suffered were a cut and some bruising, while the offending cyclist managed to keep his balance and disappeared in the blink of a somewhat teary eye.

At first sight, this appears to be one of those misfortunes that we British typically laugh off keeping our upper lips stiff.

However, having heard the tragic story of the mother of two killed by a cyclist who apparently had a bike with no brakes, it becomes far more chilling.

Had I been one second earlier or later, rather than a sore ankle I could now be in hospital or possibly even a mortuary. If this sounds alarmist, that is the intention.

It is very hard to believe that in this day and age a car driver would take a significant chance of hitting a pedestrian. While my charitable side would like to believe that their main motivation is love of one’s fellow man, in many cases protection of their driving licence would be a more decisive factor.

If my observations are anything to go by, a significant proportion of cyclists consider themselves to be above the law. In particular, those working as couriers operate using principles that are mad, bad and therefore make them dangerous to know.

While cars regard red lights as a reason to stop, cyclists seem to think that these are an impulsion to accelerate, regardless of the risks to their own and others’ lives and limbs.

I had a lucky escape this week. The road where I got hit is on the edge of Covent Garden, which is a renowned tourist area. Had I been a visitor from overseas marshalling an excited family enjoying the sights of London, the very same cyclist would have wiped out one or two people and still probably not cared less, as long as he remained upright and avoided arrest.

Perhaps it is time for the government and/or police to begin taking action. Perhaps some road cameras need to be set up with a specific intention of making pedestrian life safer? Alternatively, is it time for cycles to get number plates?

From my own experience, all that I know is that unless something happens, there will be more fatalities.


Replies (13)

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By slipknot08
07th Sep 2017 13:17

Couldn't agree more! I was knocked over on the crossing (green light for me) outside our old offices some years ago - the cyclist in question apparently didn't care about my walking stick or neck brace and called me a string of *interesting* things, before disappearing off at high speed. Like you, I wasn't badly hurt - but if I'd been a little old lady with arthritis? Wouldn't have stood a chance.
The majority of cyclists are just decent people, trying not to get killed on the road themselves, but the bad apples - like that little [***] who should currently be doing time for manslaughter (instead of the ludicrous Victorian charge they actually got him on) - need curtailing. Hard.
Hope you feel better soon Philip xxx

Thanks (4)
By FirstTab
07th Sep 2017 13:20

In all areas we get idiots. As a cyclist, I come across idiot drivers every day trying to avoid red lights. Serious injuries by cyclists are rare but memorable.

Who knows you may be a target set by ex-partners /employees.

Thanks (4)
Replying to FirstTab:
By Bert Clayton
08th Sep 2017 10:23

Yes there are idiots in all areas, but they don't all have sanctions against dangerous behaviour, which is I think the whole point (and yes I like to use my bike without risking life and limb too)

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By jamespeckham
08th Sep 2017 10:37

99% of pedestrian deaths are due to motorised vehicles, 98% of all injuries to pedestrians are due to motorised vehicles. Maybe it's time fore government and/or police to take action against motor vehicles, maybe more road traffic cameras.

Thanks (1)
Replying to jamespeckham:
By TheLambtonWorm
08th Sep 2017 10:52

But where do those injury statistics come from?

I imagine (for a minor injury anyway) it would be more likely that someone would report a motor vehicle incident to the police, than a cycle incident - especially as there's no means of identifying a cyclist, unlike a motor vehicle driver.

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Replying to jamespeckham:
By Peter Cane
08th Sep 2017 11:51

No one disputes the fact that there are many dangerous drivers out there. No one disputes the fact that may injuries and fatalities are caused by drivers of motor vehicles.
However, that does not alter the fact that there are too many cyclists, especially in London, who seem to think they're Bradley Wiggins and use the streets like race tracks and pay little or no heed to pedestrians and other road users and too many of them break the highway code (and therefore the law of the land) by not stopping at red traffic lights.

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By kalaika
08th Sep 2017 14:30

I hope your injuries recover soon, Philip, however going from “killed by a cyclist” to “a significant proportion of cyclists consider…” and then “cyclists seem to think…” within three paragraphs is an excessive and, in my opinion, ridiculous generalisation. ‘Cyclists’ are no more a homogeneous group than ‘motorists’, ‘left-handers’, ‘vegetarians’, or indeed, ‘accountants’. There are a few d!ckheads in all categories, but the majority are not, so why should the whole be defined by the few?

I find most, but not all, cyclists ride considerately and stop at red lights, just as most, but not all, motorists drive considerately and stop at red lights too.* Number plates do not appear to deter the red-light-breaking motorists, so I have no reason to believe that bicycles having number plates would stop those cyclists either. It would be an expensive and unnecessary waste to implement, when the majority of cyclists would continue to obey traffic laws and ride considerately, just as they do now. Antisocial cyclists may be a problem in certain areas, so let’s find out why and deal with it. Number plates wouldn’t help.

I agree something does need to be done to improve pedestrian safety, but focussing on cyclists would be fiddling as Rome burns. Stats show that several hundred pedestrians are killed each year through road accidents, of which those involving collisions with cyclists are between 0 and 5 per annum.** There clearly is a need for something to be done, but the rare ‘Killer Cyclists’ (that your headline highlights) should be a secondary rather than the primary concern.

* I do not live or work in a major city, YMMV

** I appreciate it’s slightly out of date,

Thanks (2)
08th Sep 2017 17:05

If you accept there should be number plates for cyclists, you should by the same logic require all pedestrians to have them. My experience is that by far the biggest hazard of cycling is pedestrians stepping off the kerb without looking properly. By the way, a pedestrian is about 50 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by a motor vehicle than by a bicycle. So you proposing a vast amount of administration to address a hazard that is statistically close to non-existent.

Thanks (1)
Replying to JDBENJAMIN:
By stepurhan
08th Sep 2017 17:19

By the way, a pedestrian is about 50 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by a motor vehicle than by a bicycle. So you proposing a vast amount of administration to address a hazard that is statistically close to non-existent.

Source please. Especially if you are going to describe something as statistically non-existent.
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Replying to stepurhan:
10th Sep 2017 18:41

This article is the source. In fact, the multiple is 60 rather than 50.

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By killer33
09th Sep 2017 09:12

Killer cyclists! Give me a break.

Sounds like the title for a B movie showing on the Horror channel.

You are an intelligent man ,why not click on the link and educate yourself on the real risks of death and injury you face as a pedestrian.

Thanks (1)
paddle steamer
10th Sep 2017 12:12

Well from our personal experience those that cause most damage are pedestrians, one managed to run across the road for a bus, collide with my wife's stationary car (in traffic), crack the windscreen and break the mirror and continue running- there is one non reported incident.

Cyclists are good and bad but in Edinburgh it appears a larger percentage than those in cars cross roads at red lights; cars may jump them as they change but some cyclists will cross against long changed to red lights on a regular basis- I suspect I spot minimum one a week.

I suspect it is only a matter of time before, for preservation of their financial well being, they are advised to take out third party insurance.

The stat not quoted, but far more relevant, is not deaths by cyclists, that is a red herring, given their lower mass that is obviously going to be much lower, but accidents caused by cyclists-reported or otherwise, the lack of registration numbers will reduce those reported.

As an aside, age about 12 I ran into the side of a car (running down a dirt track and straight onto a road), I no doubt caused it a little damage (at the time the pain in my leg was my main concern), but the driver was solely concerned with my wellbeing, no questions re damage to his car arose- however that was 1970s, not sure , in this more litigious era if my father would not have been asked to stump up for the damage to the car driver's paintwork.

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By mrme89
11th Sep 2017 10:42

If you are operating a vehicle, whether that be a bicycle, car or something else, you need to assume all pedestrians are stupid and operate with complete care.

Of course the number of accidents are statistically lower for bicycles; there are far fewer on the road than cars.

I don’t understand the argument that if cyclists should be required to have some form of vehicle identification, insurance etc that pedestrians should do so too. Pedestrians are not going at speed on a lump of metal.

I see lots of bad habits from both cars and cyclists. For example approaching zebra crossings that do not have a clear view without slowing down. It’s about knowign your environment and anticipating potential hazards. It is not difficult to drive or cycle sensibly.

Thanks (1)