Monday, 7 October 2013

An accident, not a disaster...

Sometimes it isn't anyones fault.

I was riding out from work at Lunchtime on Friday. I looked over my shoulder, saw I had space, signalled, pulled into the middle of the lane. Nothing unusual, but I was inches out of my saddle having had a look round, I looked forward again, and I'm on the ground.

There had been a cracking, crunching sort of noise, and the saddle had come off, and I couldn't hold the bike. So there I am, on the ground, eating tarmac. Minimal road rash on both knees, sore hand... and an ankle hurting like hell.

The car behind me stopped, as did a pedestrian, I waved them away while thanking them, and hobbled off. 

The bolt holding the saddle to the saddle clamp had sheared in two. Its a new one on me - never had that. Even after all these years there are still new ways of knackering a bike.

Sometimes, shit happens. I'm just glad it happened at a relatively quiet time, not in heavy traffic. The accident itself isn't something to blame anyone for - but it occurred to me when slowly pootling home (having only just been able to hobble to a shop for a repair - thank you Cycle Ambulance) that had this happened on nearly all of my normal route, I'd have been in serious danger of death. Here's a typical example recently in the news - a cyclist hit by a car overtaking other bikes, on a bend. The car was on the wrong side of the road, and the cyclist came off somehow and was struck and killed by the car. The driver was acquitted.

Accidents happen, that's just part of life. We can't stop that, and we have to work around it. If we don't allow space and time such that any accidents happening don't become catastrophes, then the result is no longer merely an accident - its the entirely predictable result of not taking enough care. 

I'm reminded of a friends child who once said that breaking his mums mug was an accident. He'd been throwing a ball around in the living room - and his mum made it quite clear that it wasn't an accident, it was the result of him not taking care. It was a predictable result of what he was doing. 

For some reason this simple doctrine of taking care not to harm others is lacking from our roads. People will fall off bike, they'll fall from pavements, that doesn't mean hitting them is okay - if that happens its not an accident. Its an entirely predictable result of your own hazardous driving.

I'll be fine soon. Might have a limp for a while. But I'll live - no thanks to the many, many motorists I see every day who would, in the same scenario, have killed me.

1 comment:

  1. When my Brompton frame split underneath me at the hinge where the long horizontal tube folds I was thankful I was just pushing away from the lights where I'd stopped. Ten seconds later I'd have been doing 20mph plus down a hill and possibly seriously injured.

    On another much earlier occasion and a different bike I noticed one of the front forks had split, again as I was pedalling downhill (London's Haymarket, with quite a bit more traffic around me) but again without repercussions to my safety.

    Together with some spills (on ice or slippery manhole covers, wandering into the gutter, etc) and consciously trying to monitor my riding behaviour when I wore a bike helmet (I think I tended to take more risks when I did), such incidents have made me more careful about how I cycle on roads and less dependent on the bike staying in one piece while I do.