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.
My first ever accident happened here:
Location: junction Burgemeester Gommansstraat, Pepijnstraat, Venlo, Netherlands
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.
Location: Ormeau Rd Roundabout, Belfast, N. Ireland
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.
Because of accident 2 I changed my route to work. This took me down Donegall Rd.
Where: Donegall Rd junction with Tierney Gardens
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.
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.
Where: entrance to Olympia Leisure Centre, Boucher Road.
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.
Where: Ormeau Road, junction with Deramore Avenue
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.
Where: Annadale Embankment
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.
I got a Dawes Discovery 301.
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?!
Where: Junction Queensway with The Cutts, Derriaghy.
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.
Where: Elmwood Avenue, Belfast.
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.
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.
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.