Dicing with death: Commuter cycling on the mean streets of London
It was just yesterday when Lukas stumbled into the shop. The front forks of his bike contorted into something resembling that big, red, bastard structure they’ve turned into a slide at the Olympic Park in Stratford. ‘What the f*** happened to you?’ we asked, as blood ran from the wound on his cheekbone. ‘Aah man, it was some crazy guy. He didn’t indicate and I went straight into the side of his car and over my handlebars’.
It’s a scenario we’ve experienced a few times ourselves, where some motorists believe the only beneficiaries of them indicating are other motorists. Chances are, Lukas was going pretty fast - he’s an accident magnet so we shan’t feel too sorry for him! But what of the other horror stories and tales of near peril while cycling on London’s streets? From concussion and broken bones to blood and road rash, we get the lowdown from some commuter cyclists on their worst accidents on two wheels.
Speaking to a customer of ours, Jamie, who didn’t wish to be named, we asked whether he’d had any bad road cycling accidents. After regaling us with around five separate incidents, we decided to take the grimmest and share it with you - kind of us, we know!
“I think my worst accident was when I destroyed my ear,” Jamie says as he points to a slice of smoked back bacon on the side of his head. “There were extended roadworks along my route to work and the foot of one metal barrier was dangerously overhanging the kerb into the cycle lane. I saw it late and somehow managed to get it caught in the spokes on my front wheel, throwing me over the handlebars. I came round in pain and confused, but luckily I’d crashed right outside of a medical centre and their staff were already on hand to help! Stupidly, I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, so my ear had taken the brunt of the impact and blown up to around three times its normal size. I can bring in the picture of it if you’d like to see?” No, you’re ok Jamie, it looks terrible enough as it is now!
Next up, is Agnieszka, who we’re not surprised to hear has had a few crashes in her time. So, what happened? “Well, I was cycling to my work and I came to this junction where a car in front of me was waiting to turn right, or it was left? I can’t remember”. Well, this is already starting to sound like your fault if we’re honest, Agnieszka, but go on. “It was my turn to go past and all of a sudden the stupid man decided it was his time to go. I couldn’t slow myself in time so he crashed into my wheel and I went flying over the car and into the road”. Ouch! Did you have any injuries? “Yes, loads. I cut open my chin and my hands were looking bad too, but I was pretty lucky not to be more hurt”. You might be pretty lucky but you’ve got a pretty skewed interpretation of The Highway Code, Agnieszka.
If those terrifying tales weren’t enough, we spoke to our boy Tyrone, whose own bike is an accident that’s happened many times already. Having asked him about his worst cycling accident, Tyrone proceeded to tell us about the time he’d seen a speedboat crash while on holiday in Ayia Napa. Scary stuff Tyrone, but what about the bike accident? “Bruv. I dropped hard. Some breh set up this mad jump in the forest, so I was all over it. I ain’t really sure what happened, you know, but I must have been going too slow ‘cos one minute I’m all hyped to go over this jump and the next, I’m on the floor like a dickhead”. Ok Tyrone, cool story, but we were after commuter cycling accidents! Anyway, it doesn’t matter, did you break anything? “Yeah man, I broke my wrist and mashed up my knees, but don’t get it twisted and think I was crying or nothing”. Of course not Tyrone. Over the years we’ve realised it takes more than a bike accident and a few unpaid bike repair invoices to make you cry.
Have you had any horror crashes while cycling? Leave your story in the comments below for a chance to win a commuter cycling kit and saddlebag!