Those of you who know me and those of you who follow me on Twitter, will know that I will often stick up for cyclists against selfish and ill informed drivers. After all, as a keen, but not so great Mountain Biker, I often ride my bike on the road too so know what it’s like. Many of you will also know that I love cars and driving but despite this I know that, statistically more often than not, in a collision between a cyclist and a motorist, the latter is usually at fault.
However, there are some case’s where I just cannot defend the cyclist.
Saturday just gone, I had spent the day out on my mountain bike with my Girlfriend in Rendlesham Forest. The weather was perfect, the company was great and we had a really good time. On returning home late in the afternoon I received a phone call from my father to inform me that he was in Hospital as my Grandad had been in an accident. This was quite a shock. But the details were to be even more shocking.
My Grandparents had been on the bus on the way back home from town on Saturday morning. They were sitting on the front row of seats on the bus. The ones that are usually signed as priority seats for the elderly and women with pushchairs. Suddenly the bus had to perform an emergency stop out of the blue without warning. My Grandad was sitting on the seat nearest the isle. The force of the emergency stop sent my him flying forward and crashing into the front of the bus beside the driver, head first.
The reason for the emergency stop was a teenager on his bike who rode out in front of the bus without warning or without looking, backed up by witness accounts. The lad on the bike came off his bike but was generally ok. He had picked up his bike and moved to the roadside as a crowd of people gathered. Unfortunately, my Grandad wasn’t so lucky. He hit his head with such force, it had been cut open and was bleeding badly. The impact also broke his neck leaving him unconscious. According to the Doctors at the hospital, the neck break trapped a nerve which stopped him breathing and he also suffered a heart attack.
Thankfully an ambulance and paramedic arrived quickly after the bus driver had immediately called 999. On their arrival they rushed went to the cyclist to treat him. It was a witness who shouted at them to leave the cyclist as he was ok and deal with my Grandad on the bus. The paramedic took one look at him and immediately an Air Ambulance was called for and further assistance. The Air Ambulance bought a team of specialists who set about stitching up my Grandad’s head on site to try and avoid him needing a blood transfusion as he was losing a lot of blood.
Police took witness statements and photographed the scene by which time my Grandad had been rushed to hospital. As I write this he is currently in an induced coma in intensive care so you can imagine this is quite difficult for me to write. But I feel I should, mainly to clear up a lot of confusion.
The incident has been reported in the local newspapers, on local radio and on some websites. However the report is rather vague and states the Cyclist was arrested and charged with assault, despite not really saying what happened. This has led to some people questioning why the cyclist was arrested for assault and questioning why my Grandad was standing up and why the bus driver was driving while he was standing up.
So I now need to clear a few more things up. I too initially assumed my Grandad was standing up at the time of the incident but as explained earlier and backed up by many witnesses, this was not the case. The driver did nothing wrong. In fact, he did everything right, including calling for an Ambulance extremely quickly. Even witnesses stated his reactions to the cyclist were lighting fast. I have nothing but sympathy for him as it has been quite a distressing experience to deal with. As for the lad on the bike, Police arrested and charged him.
Some people may think this is pretty harsh or unfair, but he was entirely at fault and caused the incident. I will openly admit it is quite a freak accident, but one that could have been avoided had he been paying attention and riding correctly within the law. After all, if a car driver caused a serious accident by pulling out in front of someone, they too would be charged by the police.
Hopefully this will give a clearer picture of what happened and you can understand why the cyclist has been charged. I’m pretty sure he isn’t the kind of cyclist who rides for exercise and competition like many do who I will admit are generally courteous and respectful of the road laws. I use the word ‘generally’ though as there is one more incident I want to highlight.
You can imagine my shock and disgust the very next day after my Grandad’s incident. I was driving back from work when a Cyclist from Boxford Bike Club rode out of a side road in front of me without looking causing me to brake hard. He seemed oblivious to what he did and I was shocked and appalled at what had happened. I know he was a Cyclist from Boxford Bike Club as it was written on his Jersey. Perhaps that club needs to educate its members and tell them the consequences of their ignorant actions.
So I urge all cyclists, PLEASE take responsibility for your riding. Respect the road laws and highway code. I know some drivers can be a menace to cyclists, but make sure you are not at fault. We ALL need to take responsibility when out on the road whatever mode of transport we are using. I will continue to defend cyclists against rude and ignorant drivers, but I will not defend those at fault. That includes those who ride through red lights. You give all of us who enjoy riding bikes a bad name and if you get hit by a vehicle in the process of ignoring traffic signals you have only got yourself to blame.
Finally, I wish to thank all the Doctors, Nurses and Staff at Queen’s Hospital in Romford who are currently looking after my Grandad and Essex Police for all their efforts and for so kindly looking after my Grandma until my Dad could be with her.
I hope my Grandad will make a full recovery soon.
After a week in intensive care and with no brain activity being shown on scans, and advice and consultation with the Neurologist, the decision was made today to turn off my Grandfather’s life support machine and he sadly passed away at about 1pm this afternoon. Despite the hospital’s best efforts to save him, it was of the opinion of the Neurologist, that Grandad had technically died on the Saturday morning during the incident on the bus.
I’d like to thank everyone for all the kind messages during this difficult time.
Rest In Peace Grandad. You will be greatly missed.