When everyone who drives knows someone who cycles

by Old Bone Machine

Bradley Wiggins was hit by a Vauxhall van on Wednesday evening. He was taken to hospital with a bruised hand and fractured ribs. When the van driver realised who she had hit, she was heard to say, “Oh my God, I’ve just knocked over Bradley Wiggins!”. The incident made news headlines. This was to be expected as Wiggo this year became the first British rider to win the Tour De France. Then literally days later he won Olympic gold in front of home crowds in London. He is a sporting superhero and an ambassador for the sport of cycling. Inadvertently, he has now become an ambassador of cycling safety. Or at least a catalyst for discussion in the mainstream media.

Thursday morning, Chris Sutton, Wiggo’s long time coach, was also involved in a crash with a motor vehicle. He was taken to hospital with head injuries. He had no recollection of the incident and only regained consciousness on his way to hospital. He is fortunate I believe to be alive.

The twin incidents, although unfortunate and aberrant, have at least engendered discussion. People are talking about road cycling safety.

On Friday, I was almost hit by a car. The only connection though I have with Wiggo is that I am also passionate about cycling. The car driver misjudged my riding speed and turned sharply in front on me. Yet I was fortunate. On the back window of the car I noticed a Touched by the Toll sticker. Touched by the Toll is a campaign with a focus on the road toll. The stickers endeavour to remind us that we can all be affected by the road toll, directly or indirectly. At the time I wondered whether the driver had perhaps contributed to the toll (or perhaps was hoping to contribute).

The series of incidents allowed me to recall the following:

The roads will be safe for cyclists, when everyone who drives knows someone who cycles.

This sentiment I believe holds the key to cycling safety. For if we know and believe that our son or daughter, husband or wife, Wiggo or Cadel are riding on our roads, perhaps our behaviour as drivers will change.

Wiggo, grow back your sideburns. They were your lucky rabbit’s feet. And guys, please get well soon.