I knew it would happen sooner or later

Alarm went off at oh my word it’s early o’clock this morning, and I stumbled to the kitchen for coffee, morning prayer, and chocolate porridge, it being too cold for my usual breakfast of a fruit/milk/oats/banana smoothie. (Chocolate porridge is normal porridge with slightly too much Waitrose seriously chocolatey chocolate spread stirred in at the end, if you were wondering).

Porridge consumed, Sub tuum praesidium prayed, I heaved the bike out of the shed. I was riding Felicity, the nearly-sensible mountain bike hybrid with 21 gears, since I had booked it in for a service at my friendly local bike shop this evening.

This turned out to be fortunate.

I made it safely through Bow Interchange and onto Mile End Road, bimbling along, full of porridge and early-morning goodwill to all mankind.

This didn’t last.

I was waiting in an advanced stop box on a red light when a van pulled up next to me, on my right. A fairly common occurrence, this, so I checked to see if he was doing any of the things that would indicate a left turn at the junction, such as using indicators, position of hands on wheel, looking left, looking at his sat nav. All the indications were that he was going straight on.

The lights changed, we set off, and he immediately did a left turn directly across my path.

That wasn’t very nice of him.

He hit the bike’s front wheel, and the laws of physics being unbending when you don’t have a Large Hadron Collider about your person, I promptly fell off and landed on my bum in the road with a slightly-mangled bike on top of me.

Fortunately it was early in the morning and there was nothing behind us, so I didn’t have to worry about being hit by the car behind, and since we were both pulling away from the lights we were moving quite slowly.

I was picked up off the road and dusted down by another cyclist, who walked me to my friendly local bike shop, who took me in, made appropriate cooing noises, gave me a cup of tea and a sit down and took the bike downstairs for its service.

And then I stood up and very, very nearly screamed out loud.

“Hmm,” I thought. “Perhaps a trip to casualty would be advisable after all? It’s not far, I’ll walk.”

Yes, I am an idiot.

Off I staggered to A&E, I narrowly escaped being strapped to a backboard, was told sternly to put my phone away and not tweet, and they nearly took my eReader off me as well until I persuaded them that it wasn’t a wireless one.

I was thoroughly poked, prodded and X-rayed, told that I hadn’t broken my neck or my head or my hip or anything, that I was just bruised and had sprained my wrist, and next time I’m knocked off just down the road would I mind awfully calling an ambulance instead of wandering into the NHS walk-in centre two hours later going “err, got knocked off my bike, can you tell me where casualty is please?” because it’s a lot less hassle that way?

So, the bike needs a new front wheel, I need to buy a week’s season ticket for the Tube and a new cycle helmet, just to be on the safe side. Could have been worse. The moleskin skirt took the brunt of the road, which is a bit rough on the moles, but less rough on my legs, my gloves are wrecked (but my hands aren’t), and I was riding the mountain bike hybrid with the cheap and easy to replace front wheel, rather than the Pashley with the awkward and expensive to replace one.

I’ve reported it to the police as a failure to stop at the scene of an accident, I await developments.

While you’re here, do you mind signing The Times’ Cities fit for Cycling petition and the London Cycling Campaign’s Love London, Go Dutch one? Thank you.

15 Comments

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15 Responses to I knew it would happen sooner or later

  1. Glad to hear that you’re mostly OK.

    I hope that you have a registration number for the van. If you do, can I please ask you to chase up your costs through their insurance. The only way that some people will learn is when they get hit in their pocket.

    If you’ve got legal cover somewhere (home insurance, credit cards, etc are standard places you might find it), you can go through them, otherwise there are now several bike friendly no-win-no-fee solicitors about.

    Looking throught your post, things you can claim for would include the new front wheel, your week’s season ticket, the new cycle helmet, your gloves, and if your skirt is damaged, you can claim for that too. Your injuries will also be taken into account.

    I’ve found that in cases where I’ve been taken off, and the police have failed me (usually by failing to prosecute at all), the insurance money, and the knowledge that a dangerous driver has at least lost his no-claims bonus have a slightly soothing effect.

  2. Amanda Porter

    Oh my god! It’s bad enough that he caused the accident, but not to stop!!?? That’s appalling. Utterly despicable. So glad you’re ok.

  3. Lauren

    Glad to hear that you aren’t injured too badly and nothing was broken. I also hope that it hasn’t made you too scared to ride on the road now. I’ve signed the petition and fully support it, I rarely ride on the road as it freaks me out, I tend to stay in forests and on trails. I hope you have a speedy recovery and the bike is back in working order!

  4. Bassjunkieuk

    Ah hell! What an absolute scumbag for not stopping! I had a hit and run many moons ago in Streatham – quite how some drivers can miss the nice thud a fellow human being makes on the side of their vehicle I don’t know…..

    Glad to hear your relatively unscathed and didn’t mess up the nice bike :-)

  5. Simon

    Commiserations – this is horribly common. Why has use of indicators become at best an afterthought among drivers in the last few years? It’s time the police clamped down on it. Last time this happened to me (white van man), I smacked the rear corner of his van in an effort to avoid being driven into the kerb, and the guy had the nerve to stop and abuse me as I lay on the ground for daring to hit his vehicle. I pointed out the error of his ways, called him a moron, and he then came within an ace of thumping me!

  6. Rayner

    Oh my. I am relieved that you are alive and not too badly injured. May that van driver have some nice deep scratches in his paintwork, and may the coppers investigating and the magistrates hearing the case all be cyclists.

    I have signed both those petitions, and agree with everything in them. In a more civilised society, we’d protect the most vulnerable users of our streets, not put them in danger for the convenience of the least vulnerable.

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  8. RogerW

    So, there was a left turn immediately in front of you and you’d already considered the possibility that the van might’ve been wanting to turn there?
    It would have been too hard to just wait for about half a second, to see if it actually did?

    • rosamundi

      He was on the wrong side of the road to make a left turn. I didn’t actually consider it as a serious possibility. More fool me, clearly.

    • Do you really have to blame the victim, Roger? It is quite distasteful!

      You know, in all intents and purposes is it too hard for the driver to simply wait BEHiND the cyclist and give them a couple of seconds to get out of the way, is it too hard for them to INDICATE beforehand?

      I dont think it is, others dont think it is.

      • RogerW

        I’m not actually blaming her but rosamundi had – by her own comments – already been looking at the van with some thought as to the possibility that it might be turning.
        If anything, my comment was intended along the lines of “if you can’t change those around you, maybe there are ways to change yourself?”
        Actually, I also hope it’s not going to sound sexist if I mention that I’ve seen more than enough of the ‘ghost bikes’ that are now located around London, and I’ve found it positively worrying how many of them bear names like Rebecca, Rosie, Adrianna, Eilidh and Lucinda. I’d rather not have to see any more.
        (Yes, I do ride a bike)

  9. I hope you heal up soon, I’m sorry to read of yet another rider down at the hands of someone who should have known better.

  10. Rosamundi,

    I’m very much enjoying your blog, which is pretty similar in tone, I think, to my own called . I’m a London cyclist too, albeit a man and with a number of other trivial differences from yourself.

    I remember having a horrible feeling of inevitability when I finally got knocked off in London three years ago. It was pretty similar to your experience in that it was a vehicle (a minivan) turning left across my path and taking out my front wheel. It happened, however, at a fair speed on a main road. I’ll never know how he didn’t spot me – partly because the police, charmingly, said they wouldn’t check his mobile ‘phone records because I didn’t suffer “life-changing injuries”.

    I would strongly advise you to take on a solicitor to fight this. The guy who knocked me off stopped and I wasn’t as badly hurt as you. But he damaged the expensive shifters on my touring bike, so I was glad to get £3,500 off his insurance (the repairs alone were around £600). I know it can feel a little tacky suing people, but I can assure you the police will devote very little energy to catching this miscreant, so it might be your only chance of any satisfaction over the incident.

    Bear in mind, meanwhile, that cycling in London is a lot safer than it looks. The fatality rate per billion pedestrian miles is, for example, higher (just) than that for cycling. And few people are terrified of walking the streets.

    And I fully endorse your views about when to use which routes. I make precisely the same calculations.

    Invisible.

    • Rosamundi,

      Sorry, I really messed up formatting that reply earlier.

      Another try:

      I’m very much enjoying your blog, which is pretty similar in tone, I think, to my own called the Invisible Visible Man (http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/). I’m a London cyclist too, albeit a man and with a number of other trivial differences from yourself.

      I remember having a horrible feeling of inevitability when I finally got knocked off in London three years ago. It was pretty similar to your experience in that it was a vehicle (a minivan) turning left across my path and taking out my front wheel. It happened, however, at a fair speed on a main road. I’ll never know how he didn’t spot me – partly because the police, charmingly, said they wouldn’t check his mobile ‘phone records because I didn’t suffer “life-changing injuries”.

      I would strongly advise you to take on a solicitor to fight this. The guy who knocked me off stopped and I wasn’t as badly hurt as you. But he damaged the expensive shifters on my touring bike, so I was glad to get £3,500 off his insurance (the repairs alone were around £600). I know it can feel a little tacky suing people, but I can assure you the police will devote very little energy to catching this miscreant, so it might be your only chance of any satisfaction over the incident.

      Bear in mind, meanwhile, that cycling in London is a lot safer than it looks. The fatality rate per billion pedestrian miles is, for example, higher (just) than that for cycling. And few people are terrified of walking the streets.

      And I fully endorse your views about when to use which routes. I make precisely the same calculations.

      Invisible.