What it’s like to get knocked off your bike

Andreas: This is a story from a London Cyclist reader. If you’d like to share your story, please use the contact page.

I didn’t quite make it to work this morning. Half way there, I was knocked off my bike yards from where a fatal cycling accident took place last month. After the shock, I didn’t want to pursue my journey. Instead, I came home and started writing this.

I’m guessing I am not the only cyclist to get the “you bike in London?” question thrown in with a look of total horror. Is it so strange that I prefer the fresh, quick and free method of transport? Until now, I’ve been proud of my answer: “Yes, it is totally safe, as long as you know what you are doing.”

After this morning, I’ve taken a temporary knock to my confidence. However, my real fear is how my friends and family will react. Now that I’ve lived out their dreaded expectations, it’s validation that I’m a crazy person for choosing to cycle.

But I love cycling. I save money, I keep fit, I beat the traffic and I have independence beyond the public transport routes and timetables. Plus, I’m passionate about reducing the pollution levels in cities and encouraging more people to cycle. Why should I let a driver’s misjudgement of when to pull out of a junction rob me of my partnership with my beloved bicycle.

The reaction to cycling accidents shouldn’t be: stop cycling. It should be motivation to raise awareness and educate all those involved – cyclists, non-cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, everyone who is going to need to share our congested roads. This was particularly marked in the ‘die-in’ vigil hat followed the above-mentioned Denmark Hill accident that killed a 32-year old woman.

I worry when I see the message being hijacked by an attack on drivers, rather than mitigating against future accidents. The very name of the campaign ‘Stop Killing Cyclists’ segregates and creates sides; them against us.

In the two years of cycling in London, I have noticed no improvements on the roads. Yes, new cycle lanes are being dug up and the TFL website sure looks glossy, with all its promises to make cycling safer, but what is really happening? Where are those traffic light signals for bikes and where is this new technology for drivers of HGV’s to better see bikes?

It’s got to be about behaviour and attitude, as well as real measures taken; more safety signs, better mirrors as well as mandatory training for drivers. The media should also focus on what drivers can do to be more aware rather than obsessing over statistics of cyclist fatalities.

I was back on my bike this afternoon after picking it up from the repair shop, and it made me happy and motivated to stay safe and continue cycling in London, not scared of future accidents. I was lucky to be in a minor collision and nothing more serious, but now I am certain that better education as well as encouragement to cycle more (because being a cyclist as well as a driver changes behaviour), could make a real difference to our roads.

Steps to keep in mind if you are ever in an accident

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

21 Responses to What it’s like to get knocked off your bike

  1. SanskritFritz 22/06/2015 at 2:25 pm #

    Here is me in an accident https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puOXHOlBZqg
    Here is me cycling again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYdw8oNOr70
    Took a while. But I still cycle.

  2. Brian M 22/06/2015 at 3:36 pm #

    Sorry to hear you were knocked off. It happened to me a few months ago.

    Fortunately I was uninjured apart from a few bruises and a slightly damaged bike.

    My confidence has still yet to fully return. I kind of keep expecting it to happen again.

    I am still cycling every day into work but I don’t seem to enjoy it as much.

    I had a very near miss a few weeks ago which didn’t help things.

    I really wish they would sort out the roads to make it safer for us.

  3. Robbie C 22/06/2015 at 6:29 pm #

    Sorry to hear what happened. It seems unreal at the time.

    Happened to me a couple of years ago. The whole thing seemed to happen in slow motion and I really only recall the car radiator grill as the bike slipped under the car. The collision happened on a quiet country road with good visibility. I should have been angry and shouting the odds at the idiot driver: Actually I was dazed in shock and just wanted to get home. I was lucky and uninjured but it made me more cautious as a cyclist. Regret believing the driver would pay for the damage to the bike though and wish I had got his details.

  4. Stewart 22/06/2015 at 9:21 pm #

    Touching wood as I say this, I’ve commuted in London for 4 years and have not ever come off my bike. I continually see people doing, what I consider to be, stupid things. The usual’s are red light jumping, undertaking lorries, aggressiveness, and just generally being unobservant/oblivious to what’s going on around them.

    I feel for the people that are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the vast majority of accidents I’ve seen could have been avoided by paying a little more attention.

  5. Eric D 22/06/2015 at 9:51 pm #

    I agree that education is key.
    https://youtu.be/12Jiw3oIrYw?t=1m7s
    The motorist and the cyclist are each trying to educate the other in road-etiquette.
    “Learn how to ride! – Get off the road”

    Bikeability was introduced without any attempt to educate motorists how to react. We need to take the education process off the roads, and back into the laws, textbooks , lessons and tests.

    Particularly, we need to update the Highway Code to protect cyclists in line with Bikeability.

  6. tom wilson 23/06/2015 at 10:17 am #

    I have cycled pretty much daily for the last 30 years – it’s my form of transport and source of leisure. In that time I have sustained a fractured skull, broken radius (twice), broken collar bone, seperated shoulder, broken knee cap, broken ribs and fractured elbow. If you are going to use a bike, you are going to crash at some point, it’s like skiiing – accept that fact and realise that the rewards outweigh the risks. Top tips – learn to write with your weak hand the first time you break your dominant arm/elbow/shoulder (it’s always this one you will injure) so on subsequent occasions you knack it you can carry on as normal. Plus always carry a roll of duck tape – it’s really easy to make an sling and seal gashes – and then you can ride to hospital. And finally, remember; pain is just weakness leaving the body.

  7. Marcus 23/06/2015 at 10:31 am #

    I’ve been there and got the t-shirt, luckily only bumps and bruises after being knocked off on shepards bush green, but def shook my confidence a bit.

    More needs to be done to tackle the drivers that think it’s acceptable to be using phones etc whilst they drive.

  8. Shavonne Roder 24/06/2015 at 9:15 pm #

    Very sorry to hear that admin. Same incident happened with me 3 years ago and i was admitted hospital for almost 3 months.

  9. Spoquey 26/06/2015 at 10:23 am #

    Yes it’s hard to cope with a crash, as it makes you become sort of temporarily foolish I find, having been knocked off my bike by several drivers. After 35 years cycling in London, I am not afraid to shout or yell if I see a driver is about to crash into me. I think this saved my life the other week, though it is not at all popular with drivers. They take it as some kind of personal attack on their impeccable driving skills.

    I am grateful to all the passers-by who have stopped and helped, given me their details and offered other assistance over the years. Huge thanks to Steve who went out of his way to give me the footage off his headcam of the guy who nearly killed me the other week.

    I have learned to never ever trust a driver who says he or she will sort out your crumpled bike. Always, always get the police involved – even if they are hugely reluctant to do anything.

  10. Commonsense 26/06/2015 at 10:49 am #

    FALLEN OFF? I would like to know how often it’s happened on the Regents Canal the Victoria Park end. It’s crazy there and unfair to all that use it – something serious will happen someday.

    I just recently started to use this cycle route for commuting in the Victoria Park and Bethnal Green area along with hundreds of other cyclists during the rush hour periods and I’m alarmed at the inconsiderate pedestrians that ignore our bells as we approach at speed. They just don’t seem to realize the danger they put themselves and us in. One couple of silly old blokes shouted ‘I thought you were supposed to give way to pedestrians!’ How ridiculous – they obviously don’t appreciate that this canal towpath is now an important commuter route for we cyclists.

    It strikes me that for the safety of all of us, cyclists and pedestrians, that pedestrians should not be allowed to use the towpath during the rush hour periods. When I travel home it’s fun to time myself to try and beat my previous record and I can’t do this if I’m unable to swerve round a walker and am forced to slow down. I have nearly hit some of the walking dawdlers when they don’t respond to my bell.

    Read more at http://www.cycle-route.com/forum/General-Chat-REGENTS-CANAL-PATH-LIME-HOUSE-TO-HOXTON-FOR-CYCLISTS-ONLY-Thread-5842.html#qBpW6xklefGc7cQy.99

    • nz 26/06/2015 at 11:47 am #

      I see you are the one for being selfish and inconsiderate. Pedestrians have the right to use towpath. And timing yourself on way home? You are extremely irresponsible to do this when commuting. I believe you will be one of the killer drivers when you drive.

    • Matt 26/06/2015 at 12:15 pm #

      Let’s hope that when you end up in the canal no one else is injured.

    • dave 26/06/2015 at 4:08 pm #

      Oh, very droll.

    • Dick Vincent 26/06/2015 at 6:09 pm #

      I guess that Commonsense is trying to be ironic, but just in case this does need any clarification, please see the link below for sensible advice on sharing towpaths.

      https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/news-and-views/features/share-the-space-drop-your-pace-our-towpath-code

      All Canal & River Trust’s towpath are for everyone to share and enjoy but if you are in a hurry to get to work – or you have a thoughtless attitude towards others like Commonsense – our message is simple. Please take a alternative route.

      Thanks,

      Dick Vincent / London Towpath Ranger / Canal & River Trust

      • Commonsense 28/06/2015 at 10:13 am #

        NOT FOR WALKERS DURING THE RUSH HOUR

        Especially the stretch each side of Victoria Park. If you think cyclists will give way to you they will laugh in your face if you suggest it! A very dangerous stretch for walking and I think a decision needs to be made whether to ban walkers or cyclists – the two don’t mix.

        It’s no good expecting them to respect each other – they don’t and wont. It’s like walking along a busy narrow main road. POSITIVE ACTION IS NEEDED

        • Richard H 29/06/2015 at 9:28 am #

          Legally when riding a bike on the Towpath you must follow the Canal & River Trust’s guidance – i.e. pedestrian priority, be considerate. Although this is a public right of way it is within their rights to withdraw towpath use from cyclists at any stretch if it is deemed unsafe – after all, they own the towpath and it is NOT a cycle highway it IS a shared-use path.

          So please slow down, ride more considerately and remember that if your lack of respect causes the C&RT to remove cycle access in parts of London the majority of reasonable cyclists will have to pay for your selfishness.

  11. Jeff Young 26/06/2015 at 2:40 pm #

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214140515002236
    This makes interesting reading under the circumstances plus I have been knocked down by a minicab and more recently bike jacked/mugged

  12. Nick B 26/06/2015 at 6:34 pm #

    It’s an awful thing to happen and I hope you recover well. It does make you reassess what the hell you’re doing but, after the initial anger it’s important to realise what we, as a community of cyclists can do to improve the situation. We spend a long time discussing how the motorist should change but we should focus more on how we can change to make it safer for all of us. I’m constantly disappointed by cyclists breaking the highway code, running red lights and endangering others. We need to realise that when we do that, we’re just giving motorists the excuse not to treat us with respect. We need a charter which says that if we behave properly and respect the rules of the road, we’ve a right to be treated with equal respect. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been told that I don’t deserve respect because we run lights. It’s totally wrong headed by the motorist – running lights doesn’t carry the death sentence these days, but we need to understand that if we do that, we are endangering ourselves and every other cyclist by fuelling the motorists’ irrational assumption. Until we ALL respect the rules, we will always be faced with motorists telling us we’re our own worst enemies. Let’s not give them that excuse. Most motorists (at least when they get home!) are normal empathic people who aren’t out to injure us. The best way of changing other cyclists behaviour is to be shamed by other cyclists – their peers – so let’s politely try to get that message across. We don’t accept it from motorists because they’re often seen as the enemy. Abusing motorists makes it worse, we need to look at ourselves first – then the motorists might do likewise.
    Again, I’m really sorry to hear your news, please don’t think I’m saying you were running lights or cycling badly, I’m just trying to think of new ways to get through to other road users and make it safer for all of us, however many wheels we’re using.

  13. Colin 25/07/2015 at 1:07 pm #

    I’m sad you’ve joined the second of the only two cycling clubs I’ve ever belonged to:
    1. Cyclists who are going to be knocked off their bikes
    2. Cyclists who have been knocked off their bikes

    Sadly I think it’s inevitable, however careful you are. Mine was as unavoidable as yours probably…

  14. Harry 04/09/2015 at 7:03 am #

    I feel sorry to reading the story. I think every driver should obey the traffic rules, whether he is bus driver or bike rider and the bike rider should learn how to ride or tackle the bike well on the main road, after that they should come to the ride.

  15. Afro 24/11/2015 at 9:44 am #

    Bike accident is highly dangerous. It could be life taking as well. Every year a lot of riders losing their life due to unprofessional driving. However, I’m sorry to hear about the incident you’ve had. I think bike riders should learn more about how to ride safely during riding in the road.

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