A stands for Accident

The news of Bradley Wiggins being knocked down by a white van got me thinking about all my crashes. Of the 10, one was my fault, one was mechanical failure, but 8 are due to driver error. Women drivers were at fault in 5 of 8 crashes.

1.

My first ever accident happened here:

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Location: junction Burgemeester Gommansstraat, Pepijnstraat, Venlo, Netherlands
When: 1985
What happened: HGV pulled out of Pepijnstraat without giving way. I was on my way to school during assessment week.
Consequences: late for school; too flustered to complete test.

That was my only accident cycling in the Netherlands. Seven years later I moved to Belfast.

2.

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Location: Ormeau Rd Roundabout, Belfast, N. Ireland
When: 2000
What happened: On my way to work on my brand-new Carrera Gryphon I had to brake suddenly when a green Renault Clio failed to see me on the roundabout and give right of way. I ended up colliding with the car and fell awkwardly on the tarmac. The Clio, travelling up Ravenhill Rd, had overtaken two cars which had stopped before entering the roundabout.
Consequences: fractured right elbow; 6 weeks off work, brain atrophy through watching too much daytime TV. Broken rear light.

3.

Because of accident 2 I changed my route to work. This took me down Donegall Rd.

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Where: Donegall Rd junction with Tierney Gardens
When: 2001
What happened: cycling up inside of line of stationary citybound traffic I didn’t have enough space or time to avoid a silver Ford Fiesta crossing into Tierney Gardens.
Consequences: none.

4.

I needed to go to B&Q on Boucher Rd after work. It was dark, but I was lit like a Christmas tree, wearing a white T-shirt and hi-viz tabbard.

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Where: entrance to Olympia Leisure Centre, Boucher Road.
When: 2001
What happened: red Nissan Micra came up Boucher Road towards Tate’s Avenue. He stopped, indicated to enter Olympia Leisure Centre car park. He waited for cars to pass, but scooped me as I passed the entrance. He “saw me but didn’t know what [he] was thinking.” No, really.
Consequences: visit to RVH A&E, X-ray, but only “soft tissue injuries” and a bruise on my thigh in the shape of a Micra grille.

I changed jobs, so for 2 years I walked to work. Then Olivia and I moved to the Ormeau.

5.

Where: Ormeau Road, junction with Deramore Avenue

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When: 2004

What happened: On my way to Life Drawing night class at the Crescent Arts Centre in Botanic a light blue Peugeot 206 pulled out of Deramore Avenue without looking. I was travelling at approx. 30mph on the citybound bus lane. I swerved and pulled the brakes but I could not  avoid a collision. I put the fork clean through the bumper. The build quality of French cars must not be good. I left the scene unscathed with her contemplating how to re-attach a front bumper.

6.

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Where: Annadale Embankment
When: 2004
What happened: I was cycling down Sunnyside Street and turned left onto Annadale Embankment. I filtered in behind a police car. Then the back quick release broke. The wheel jammed into the frame and I fell heavily.
The police car did a full circle of the gyratory to ask if I was OK. I wasn’t, but they drove on anyway.
Consequences: A&E, 2 days off work with swollen knee. The Gryphon was a write off.

7.

I got a Dawes Discovery 301.

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When: 2007
Where: Malone Road
What happened: This is an incident where I didn’t come off the bike.

I was cycling towards the City when I became aware of a Land Rover Freelander trying to overtake me. As it got closer to me I gestured to the driver, who appeared to be in tears.
She continued feeding into the left lane and hit my shoulder, arm and handlebars. I kicked out and swerved, and managed to stay on the bike. She drove off oblivious.
I noticed she had pulled up to park at Action Cancer where I confronted her. “Can you not see where we are?”, she asked. She said she had cancer. And that excuses hitting a cyclist and driving off?!

8.

When: 2009
Where: Junction Queensway with The Cutts, Derriaghy.

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What happened:
I had left the car off for its annual service at Lindsay Cars in Knockmore, Lisburn. I cycled into work afterwards. It was a bright, sunny morning with light traffic conditions, so I made good progress.
I was in the citybound bus lane crossing the junction when a countrybound silver Renault Clio turned right to go down The Cutts. She hit me side on. Then, incredibly, she put the car into reverse, and as I shouted for her to stop, she drove around me and fled the scene.
A HGV driver stopped to help as did other motorists.
Consequences: £120 damage to the  bike and bruises.

The police did not “detect” the driver, despite having a partial number plate, eyewitnesses and descriptions of the car and the driver. One cannot escape the suspicion they did nothing to find the “hit-and-run” driver.

9.

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Where: Elmwood Avenue, Belfast.
When: 2009
What happened: A black Renault Megane Scenic was waiting to turn right into the entry beside All Souls Church.
I was on my way to meet Olivia and Madeleine for lunch. I was speeding up away from the junction with the Lisburn Road, when without warning, the Scenic lurched across my path. I tried avoiding the car, but was hit side on. My head struck the kerb, and my right arm was grazed, quickly stiffening.
Consequences: ripped jeans, minor damage to bike.
Police attended the scene and breathalysed the driver. The driver paid for the damage to the bike and a new pair of jeans.
I went to Belfast City Hospital A&E and was given the all clear and a prescription for pain killers.

10.

Finally, one that was my fault:

This summer we got a CargoBike from bakfiets.nl. It didn’t take long for it to get involved in a road traffic collision.

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When: 2012
Where: Malone Road, countrybound, approaching the House of Sport roundabout.

On the way home from work I misjudged the speed of the car in front, relative to my own speed, and how far forward my front wheel was. I put the wheel through the bumper of a black Vauxhall Tigra. The bike was damaged, but the only injury was to my pride.

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Green Gas Gaffe

I was watching a report on BBC Newsline about natural gas storage under Larne Lough. Alex Attwood, the Environment Minister hailed the scheme and referred to natural gas as “green”.

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So I wrote the following:

Dear Mr Attwood,

On BBC Newsline when commenting on the proposed natural gas storage site under Larne Lough you said natural gas is a green fuel.

I can assure you it is not “green”. Gas, like oil, is a finite resource; a fossil fuel.

Methane, for that is what natural gas is, is a powerful greenhouse gas, 50 times more potent than carbondioxide. When burnt in a central heating system, methane is converted to carbondioxide and water, plus a lot of heat.Carbondioxide and water vapour are greenhouse agents.

Will you please explain how natural gas can possibly be “green”?

Before you make grandiose announcements in future will you please check your facts?

Thank you.

Regards,

And I got a reply:

Dear Borghert Jan Borghmans

Thank you for your e-mail of 18 October in relation to Green Fuel.

A response will issue in due course.
Kind Regards, LS | DOE Private Office

I am looking forward to it!

APPCG Inquiry

“Get Britain Cycling

Call for Evidence

The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) is calling for evidence for an inquiry entitled: “Get Britain Cycling”

The inquiry will examine the barriers which are preventing more people from cycling in the UK. Cycling makes up 2% of all journeys in the UK, compared to 27% in the Netherlands and 18% in Denmark. Some European towns have more than 50% of all journeys made by bike.

We will be taking written evidence from stakeholders on issues including road safety, training, enforcement, planning and design, theft and highway maintenance . There will be six evidence sessions starting in mid January and a panel of MPs and Peers will take verbal evidence from a selected group of witnesses. A report with recommendations will be written by Professor Phil Goodwin and will be published in mid-April.

Please see terms of reference for the inquiry in…

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