Emily’s Monday Fix 11….Cycle Safely

It was around midday and I was helping Andrea move her belongings by bike from her old apartment on Ball Pond Road to our new place. I was perched at the windowsill watching the world go by as andrea packed her things up. Noticing she needed help I jumped back inside and helped her fill one bag…..what seemed like only a few minutes later I heard the sound of an ambulance out the front but thought nothing of it. We headed down stairs to cycle our first load only a km up the road when to our shock we had walked into the most horrible scenario imaginable. A cyclist half underneath a huge heavy tip truck turning left at the lights. They were still. There was one ambulance, and a few pedestrians at this early stage. It seems I had missed the actual accident from the windowsill by only minutes. I could see the cyclist under the truck and their bike not far away, wheels all twisted and bent. It looked like the impossible and certain defeat of life for sure. I could see the face and upper body under the truck wheels, I felt so heavy hearted. It was silent and everything seemed still, it was a very serious accident. There were a few other cyclists walking past, we were all very concerned. You could see we all felt compassion for our fellow rider in trouble. The paramedics began to attend to the injured cyclist, still not moving. It seemed wrong to hang around on the street watching as another ambulance and two fire trucks arrived so we decided to cycle up the road to drop off one load. Coming back 20 minutes later and the whole street all the way to Kingsland Rd was closed. I went up stairs and resumed my place at the window sill praying they would be OK. It didnt look good.

It appeard the truck turning left at the lights did quite a large turning circle around the corner, the driver must not have seen the tiny cyclist on the inside, perhaps there was some confusion as to the direction the truck was going. The truck ended up pretty much in the centre of the intersection turning left.
It was a very sad sight, after over an hour they had the stretcher out, paramedics were under the truck helping ease out the lower half, eventually the rest of the body came out, it seemed the body had not been completely caught under the wheels after all. I couldn’t tell if the cyclist was male or female as their body was lifted up onto the stretcher. Neck and back in braces we saw them lifting both arms, alive and moving! I was so anxious by the whole past hour but so happy to see movement. So, so happy. To watch all those paramedics work so hard and so calmly on saving that life was very moving. There were about 8 medical people there, police to section the road, firemen on stand by in case, I supposed, they had needed hydrolics to lift the truck. I noticed a young man there, possibly a friend, some people from the neighbourhood and a few passing cyclists. All desperately wanting the injured cyclist to live.
Since the accident there has been much support and concern posted on the London Single Speed Fixed Gear Forum, with well wishes of  a speedy recovery. I have since found out from a family member that the injured cyclist was a 23 year old woman who is in recovery.
I often forget as a cyclist on the road how easy it is for our soft unprotected bodies to get taken away in an instant. Although I don’t want anything to stop me from cycling, since that day I have felt shaken. Despite my assertive nature I have clearly been affected by what I saw. If one good thing comes out of this accident it is that I will NEVER go near a lorry or bus again, I will take no risks and I intend to pass this message onto everyone I meet. There is no point trying to rush past HGV’s for the sake of a few seconds because we have to assume that on a bicycle you can’t always be seen.

Tips

Cycle sensibly and assertively to help yourself stay safe.

The picture above illustrates all of a lorry drivers blind spots in red. Look how vulnerable we are. It is pretty shocking to see just how large their blind sport are. I would not like to be a truck driver…
Please be super safe on the roads because its not worth dying today.
Emily x
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