Friday, 13 January 2012

Well that hurt – a LOT!

After a six week break from cycling from a broken rib I had got back on my bike – I had bought a new helmet and was starting to get back into the rhythm of daily cycling, dare I say it but I was starting to get the feel for it again, my bones were no longer aching and my fitness levels were starting to pick up again.

As I cycled into work on the 22nd of December life was starting to get back into its natural path – work had many priorities that I needed to work through but generally all was well with the world again. That was before Mr dumb ass driver decided to try and have a go at killing me for no other reason than to save a couple of seconds in his inconsequential drab and pointless life (yep I like this person a lot). For reasons that shall become clearer later, I cannot go into to many details – but I hope the following will primarily help me vent my rage but additionally let me assist you my fellow rider in how to deal with the idiot car driver that tries to kill us from time to time!
Because I need to let you understand what happened, there now follows a brief description of the attempt on my life by Mr X – the careless driver who is the villain of this post. I am going to briefly describe the accident with all the name etc. removed. This is because the police are taking the driver to court and I would rather not prejudice the proceedings in any way.

Please see following diagram and description

I was travelling on the main road (xxx Road) which is a dual carriageway. I was in the in the left hand lane about 2 feet from the curb. As I was approaching the left turn to zzz road (I was continuing straight) I saw the Silver Renault Clio. He was stopped on the other side of the road waiting to turn right into zzz road. At about 10 – 15 meters from the entrance to zzz road I saw that the Renault was still stationary. As he had not moved and I noticed a silver people carrier coming out of zzz road looking to join the main road, the car on the side road now became my prime concern in case it pulled out in front of me (at this time I was doing about 20 mph). The people carrier stopped, as I passed the entrance to zzz road I was hit on my right side by the Renault. I was catapulted forward over the handlebars and ended up in the road – I continued in the same direction I was travelling in through the air, I managed to turn my body so the back of my shoulder would hit the ground first – I figured this was safest as I was wearing a backpack and had a helmet on to protect my head. The bike went under the front of the Renault, it had it me at a 90 degree angle at the entrance to zzz road

The driver of the Renault tried to go forward after the accident but had to get out and move my bike as it was in the way – he moved my bike to the side of the road. I am not sure how long I was on the ground for (or if I was knocked out)  but I got up and asked (ok I shouted) the driver asking why he had not seen me. 

I was in a lot of pain especially in my shoulder and it felt like it was broken – also I had a dead left leg. Although in shock I was determined to get the driver details as previously I had been hit by a driver and they had tried to make a run for it.

I took the basic driver details of his name and phone number and registration number, I was also given the details of the witness who had also been riding a bike and was travelling in the same direction as the driver of the Renault. My main concern though was to get myself to the local A and E and because I knew I was not carrying a lock for my bike I wanted to get my wife to come and pick me up and take me there and also collect the bike at the same time.

The lessons to be learned

Firstly – this was one of the most impossible of all accidents to predict – I am more than aware of danger spots to look for and I had with all reasonable common sense removed the driver who hit me as a threat (he was stopped and was to all intents and purposes waiting for me).

Personal I assume the reason why he hit me was because he thought I was “only” a bike and was probably only travelling at about 5 to 10 mph – he thought he had time to cut across the road into his turning before I was there – had I been in a car he would not have taken the chance – but seeing as it was only a cyclist he thought it was OK. The driver gave some excuse that he thought I had stopped and that is why he set off – I mean really! I was still accelerating away from traffic lights I had been stopped at 50 meters earlier, I had stopped accelerating and was covering my brakes in case the car pulled out from the left but I was still moving along at about 20mph. All the above took place over a 3 or 4 second period.

The truth is that you are going to end up focusing on the most obvious danger and it just (and still) doesn’t seem possible that the guy was going to make a charge for turning when he had clearly seen me. The sad truth is he was arrogant and thought he was better because he was in a car (even a crap one like he was driving).

I had no way to avoid the crash if I had turned left I would have gone head first into the car waiting to come out of the side road. But at least I kept my senses about me after he hit me and deliberately spun to hit the ground on my back as I knew I had a rucksack on. I am just glad my feet came out of the pedals quite easily. 

Anyway I had, despite the pain I was in (and am still in) tried to be reasonable with the driver – I asked him to give me details of his insurance so I could contact them and sort out the damage to my bike and clothing (and some very obvious medical attention I was going to be needing for next couple of months. Once again this guy came up trumps – despite my repeated calls (which he ignored) he refused to give me his insurance details. He merely sent me a text saying “he had informed his insurance company of the MINOR incident and it was up to me to deal with it”.

Well this was the final straw and what can only be described as a monumental error on his behalf. Sadly for him – I am insured on my bike for crashes – so the next day I called them, filled out all the forms and got the LBS to quote for repairs (£595). This was all very easy to do and I was additionally told by the insurance company that I must report the accident to the police. I called the Met Police (101) and reported the incident – shortly afterwards the police contacted me again and I was informed that they would pay me a visit at home that afternoon. The police visited me that day and took the details of the accident.

Also because my bike insurance only covers the bike and not medical or clothing they told me to sign up a personal injury lawyer. And here is the fun thing, the witness to the crash was a fellow cyclist (going in the opposite direction) and he happened to work for a personal injury lawyers firm! Needless to say I asked them to represent me.

So the long and short of it is – the driver now has:

1)  An expensive bike fixing bill
2)  Another large bill for a broken helmet and damage clothing (and readers here will know I don’t buy cheap stuff)
3)  A court summons from the police for careless driving (3-9 points and a £200- £800 fine)

Funny thing was on about the 6th Jan I got a call from his insurance company (I guess he had got the summons) asking if they could sort the claim out. I felt sorry for the guy from his insurance – I explained to him what had happened and the steps I had to take. He knew full well that it was now going to be a lot more expensive for them – not only would they be receiving a bill for the items damaged and physio – but I shall also be billing him for 4 lost days of work, the skiing holiday that I was booked on for the 29/12 to the 5/1 and which was totally wasted as I couldn’t ski and for the massive amount of pain I am still in – for example the last two nights I have had a total of 1 hours sleep due to the pain.  I have severe damage to the muscle and tendons in my shoulder and totally screwed up lower neck and massive amounts of bruising all up my left leg (which makes for a great picture by the way).

At the scene of the crash I also got pictures of him – his car – the road and the very clear dry weather.

Because I have crash insurance my bike will be fixed and ready to go long before I am, and his momentary lapse in concentration (for this read arrogance) is going to cost him dearly – I really can’t see his current company being that keen to hold onto him as a client.

1)      Get insurance
2)      Get a witness
3)      Take photos
4)      Call the police
5)      Get even – if they don’t want to play nice then why should we?

See you on the roads again in a couple of months (I hope). But here's a thought - the drivers need to save a couple of seconds of his time (and by the looks of him - his time wasn't that important) he could have left my wife without a husband and my two kids without a father to help them through their early years - was it really worth the risk?

Funny things said by the driver:

1) I thought you had stopped that's why I took the turn.
2) Don't worry at least you are alive (hmmm no thanks to him)
3) It was a minor incident (yes I guess it was if you were sitting in a 1 ton metal cage with crumple zone - my crumple zone was my rucksack)

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