I had my cycle accident just over ten months ago and I can finally say that I feel I am on the road to recovery. I am yet to cycle again but once my physio is over I will be getting back to that. People have asked me how I think I will feel about it – whether I will be fearful of cycling again. I can honestly say until I do it I can’t really answer that question. My memory of the actual accident is very hazy, I recall the moments coming up to it and then being on the floor unable to move but the actual fall seems to be a blank, which is probably a good thing!
But I do know that a split second decision to overtake a distracted cyclist on a wide enough place will be the thing I remember the most. I vividly recall her white coat and pink scarf and how she was weaving about in front of me in the distance before I binged my bell. She moved to the side but didn’t stay there. My bell wasn’t enough to focus her on keeping to the right hand side.
It wasn’t the first time I have almost been hit by a distracted cyclist – cyclists who are gazing to their right looking at shops, looking down at their phones texting or on social media whilst cycling, listening to music on big bucket headphones oblivious the what is going on around them. You wouldn’t do these things when driving a car so why do so many cyclists in this city cycle with only half their attention?
I read recently about smart phone zombies – people walking about head down looking at their phones but as I walk about the city I see the same behaviour on bikes. The law states that you must have one hand on the handle bars at all times. It is also illegal to carry more passengers than your bike is designed for. It is advisory to have a bell. You must have and use the correct lights at the correct time. There are laws listed on many websites but most do not make reference to using a mobile phone whilst cycling yet it carries a 1000kr fine (since March 2014), which, along with jumping a red light, is the highest level of fine.
I don’t know for sure that the woman who hit me was on her phone but I know that the large number of cyclists I see daily distracted by the latest on Facebook or their email are putting themselves and others at risk. A few years ago there was a big campaign about avoiding unnecessary distractions whilst cycling and it is something I believe is needed now and instead of cycle police concentrating on teenagers giving their friends a ride or people cycling over crossings, lets see a crackdown on cycling smartphones zombies and stop a few more accidents or near misses.
So if this is you, think about how important that email really is before you look whilst cycling – you or someone else may be very grateful for your attention to the more important job in hand – cycling!