Cycling accident with a truck

Cycling back and forth to work is a great thing as I’m reducing my carbon footprint, something I feel very good about in general, especially considering that my annual car mileage is under four thousand miles. However attempting to be good to the environment and looking after my health brings one very serious negative point, my life is at serious risk.

I have realised that it’s an inevitable fact that I am going to be involved in a road accident in the next few years, and I really don’t see any way to avoid it. In fact it has already happened, and that’s within my first year of cycling to my new work premises. Not just an accident either, but actively being run off the road.

On the fourteenth of November I was forced off the road and into a wall by a large truck. I was lucky.

Let me go through the events for you.

Cycling up the back road to my work is usually quite quiet. It’s a country road that’s used at rush hour as a shortcut, but it’s not overly busy. It’s a normal two lane road, apart from three places where bridges narrow into one lane. Two of these bridges have traffic lights placed either side of them, but are not yet operational, one of these bridges has no such lights.

This narrow bridge is located after a very long downhill straight that ends in a large bend shaped like a reverse question mark, the end of this bend is sharp enough to be almost a ‘u’ turn and is hidden by bushes, so you can’t really see around it until you turn to face the bridge. The bridge itself is about ten yards from the bend and narrows to about one lane for three or four yards with walls on either side, it then opens up to a two lane road and climbs a small hill, the crest of which is about fifteen yards on.

So I’m coming down the long straight doing around twenty miles an hour, slowing to start the bend I can hear a truck behind me. I, as always in traffic, am cycling near the middle of the lane as opposed to in the gutter – this not only makes it easier to cycle as I’m not bouncing around in the gutters and drains, but I also maintain control of my lane and encourage vehicles to actually overtake me and not just “get by” me.

Turning the final part of this bend so that I can now see the bridge and the hill, I suddenly hear the truck gun into life and I wonder what they are possibly trying to do when the road ahead narrows to a single lane. As I reach the bridge I see the truck begin to pass on my right hand side, and before the cab length has even passed me, it pulls in front to avoid hitting the far wall and therefore block the road ahead.

As soon as I see that it has cut right across me and not left enough room for me to keep going forward I make a sudden decision. Travelling at around twelve miles an hour, I turn the handlebars towards the left hand side of the road, ram on the brakes lifting my back wheel in the air, and skid towards the wall. As I crash into it I watch as the truck passes within centimetres of my right arm, and that is not an exaggeration.

Luckily for me I thought quickly and drove into the wall, and despite my back wheel being lifted into the air, it didn’t fall towards the truck and instead fell to the left towards the wall. Unfortunately for me I was attached to my bike by clip on shoes (SPDs) and still moving forward so my left leg was scraped against the wall and my front wheel took a fair bashing.

The truck pulled right in front of me, forced me off the road, and continued onwards. It headed up to the crest of the hill, remember that was just fifteen yards ahead, indicated right and pulled into the yard.

So the truck overtook me coming to a narrowing, one lane bridge, drove me off the road, and then stopped fifteen yards ahead to turn right. All the while without a care in the world.

Of course I was furious, more than that I was ready to punch the guy. So I raced up the hill, turned into the yard, and got off my bike absolutely fuming, I was ready to start shouting and screaming. Luckily I saw the other people around the yard, and the drivers attempts to totally ignore me. I took a sobering moment, and calmed long enough to get my Palm Pilot out and write down the details of his truck and the company.

Stephen J Dalton Skip Hire, I shall refrain from publishing the registration number as I have an active crime number from the Police now. That evening I headed to the Police station and submitted a report to a civilian receptionist. I’m still waiting for a Police visit and a statement to be taken, but at least I have my crime number for the insurance. The company shall be receiving a letter in the next few days requesting details of their insurance company and also notifying them of not only this accident, but a similar incident two days later.

Yes, it happened again. Different truck, this time it was actually just as I was passing the close of the bridge and the road began to open, the truck accelerated forward and squeezed by me with the same amount of space only to turn at the brow of the hill yards ahead.

You see although this has been the most extreme example to date, incidents like this are happening on a daily basis, even on an individual trip. There’s about two or three times a trip that I’m either cut up by another vehicle, or undercut. This morning I was in the outside lane of a roundabout and a vehicle drove up my inside, the left hand side of my bike where there was only half a lane to the pavement! Straight through pushing to get to their turn off. Crazy.

I doubt it will be long before some driver actually knocks me off my bike and attempts to kill me. Indeed they might even succeed. What I don’t want is for this to be quoted in my local newspaper as the man who blogged of his own death.

So why don’t you drivers out there wise up and give some serious respect to cyclists. I don’t want to die at the hands of a driver just trying to push by me because they can gain a few seconds on their journey. Stop being impatient and overtake bikes, don’t just get by. They have a right to the entire lane too, despite their width.

I’ll keep you updated on the Police and the Skip Hire Company developments, as long as you drivers allow me to keep the use of my hands that is.

8 comments on “Cycling accident with a truck”

  1. ghani Reply

    How terrible! I never understood the complete lack of respect for cyclists, these people are being awfully cavalier with people’s lives!

  2. pablo Reply

    It never ceases to amaze me that drivers of cars/buses/trucks etc do not comprehend that a cyclist has no protection around them, nor that the brakes of most bicycles will not stop the cyclist(they merely slow the cyclist down) unless the cyclist jams on the brakes, which in many cases cause more damage to the individual.

    I cycle to and from work fairly often and have similar stories that i won’t go into for the moment. What i will say is that whenever i am a driver i give cyclist loads of room and pass when its:

    A: safe to do so

    B: and actually makes a difference(i.e. if the traffic lights are red 20m ahead then whats the point in overtaking)

    I have been driving around edinburgh with motorists behind me(who cannot see the cyclist infront) hooting at me to get a hurry up. With one idiot actually getting out of his car, at a red traffic light that we had caught because of me being slow to avoid the cyclist, and he confronted me with?

    “Whats you f*cking problem, can’t you use your accelerator?”

    I pointed out the cyclist with their child on a back seat of their bike who i was unable to pass safely(so i didn’t) and said “actually sir, i didn’t see the point in killing that man and his child?”

    Response was something like “Learn how to drive you etc etc…..” so even after i pointed out why the traffic was “slightly” slower he still had no brains in comprehending why? now that it scary.


    Other points for cyclists(including myself) to remember

    * Have lights on your bicycle

    * Including a back light

    * Lights with flat batteries don’t count

    * wear bright clothing

    * try not to weave all over the road

    * always assume the motorist hasn’t seen you

    * make yourself as big as possible on the road

    * obey ALL road rules

    And most important of all. Even if the motorist makes the mistake(honest or not) it will hurt you more than their car. Be Aware!

  3. Patrick Hadfield Reply

    I think drivers should be made to cycle – and walk – as well as drive. Drivers who also cycle are able to think where cyclists are and what they might do ahead of time.

    As Richard has said elsewhere, bus drivers tend to be more respectful.

  4. Richard Reply

    Interesting comment Patrick, that’s something I’ve always thought, especially when I took my Motorbike test. To pass your car driving test you should have to go through a rerun of cycling proficiency and\or a full Motorbike test.

    Pablo – superb idea, I’m going to write up the Rules for Defensive driving for Cyclists. Not that I want this to turn into a cycling site, but it might be worthwhile.

    Thanks Ghani! Good to know you read the site. I’m not as proficient as you in posting.

  5. Lee Reply

    Shit, man, that’s heavy. I had no idea you’d had an accident.

    I too have been on the receiving end of a horn for “going too slow” and giving a cyclist a wide berth (and the same involving a horse for that matter). Nothing is so important that a few seconds is worth such a risk.

    Education must play a part. My instructor laid down important standards for pedestrians, cyclists (pedal and motor), animals etc. Now, most of my road rage (yes it’s true) is directed at those who don’t have consideration. A lot must surely be in the “Non-Educated Driver” bracket?

    One more tip to add (applies equally to drivers): If a vehicle is indicating to turn left into a junction you are waiting to turn out of, don’t trust it until you see the wheels start to turn.

  6. Lee Reply

    Part way home from the station last night and this crossed my mind. This was after I had held back for a cyclist, waited for a clear road, then gave a wide berth as I did the overtaking.

    Just as I pulled back in it dawned on me – yes, that WAS a cyclist. Automatic reaction from me to do what was right, so I felt a warm self-righteous glow from within.

    Incidentally, s/he was on a bad stretch of road, it’s had a channel dug for a mains cable, or gas pipe, and been re-laid really badly. When I drive up I drive right against the kerb to avoid the pounding on the tyres, so heaven knows what it’s like for a cyclist in that rough channel with the lights of a car bearing down on them.

  7. Matt (UK) Reply

    Welcome to a decaying society. In what other situation does a human threaten the life of another stranger to gain a few seconds lead? A huge part of the problem I lay at the CPS, circuit judges, civil servants making (up) Highway Codes ignoring cyclist’s needs and finally the police.

    The entire legal and enforcement process is flawed, as any cycling solicitor will know only too well.

    I am a CTC and CTUK trained cycling instructor but I resigned two years ago. I felt I was sending people to certain death. A huge amount of training is required to recreate 10 years+ of coping with trucks, vans, cars and police ignorance. A couple of hours is pointless.

    I now ride a 230Kg Honda Africa Twin. It is the Hummer of motorbikes. Massive steel crashbars with headlights at driver head height. You would think drivers would notice this, but no. It is still two wheels therefore ‘I can squeeze past it’. I often am approaching an oncoming car that should yield as the road width is restricted to one lane by a car parked on their side. Do they yield? What is it about drivers who fail to do this?

    I have now fitted an illegal horn to the motorbike and as I approach a gap which I think a driver is about to crush me out of I flick to main beam and blast the horn. This works most of the time. They are startled by this and often stop because they don’t know why I do this. At this point I think the penny drops and they realise that trying to squeeze a huge motorbike through the gap with their car was perhaps not a good idea.

    These people need to be taken from their seats and given some serious therapy.

    While I am reducing my carbon footprint a little, but certainly avoiding traffic congestion and parking hassles, compared to driving a car, I do wish I could cycle instead. Sadly the UK government and local authorities just provide lip service to cyclists. On the whole, they just don’t give a damn.

    Welcome to a decaying society.

  8. Richard Brunton Reply

    Matt, good that you’re taking positive action with the horn. I rode a motorbike for a short time and felt somewhat dodgy at times, although I was up in Aberdeen and it’s not half as busy as Edinburgh is. Motorbike or cycle, it’s the same problem.

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