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A tale of two crashes
14.05.07 by Buffalo Bill

I know two female cyclists who were recently involved in crashes. One is a messenger, one used to be. The outcomes were different, as were the circumstances.

C is riding down a hill in South East London. It’s morning, visibility is good. She is on a wide main road. Ahead she can see a car signalling to turn right into a side road. The car will have cross the centre line and cross her path to do so. As she has right of way, and she is confident that the driver has seen her, she doesn’t slow down. She is going fast, but not in excess of 30 kph, probably not more than 20.

However, the car pulls across her path, and she is unable to avoid colliding with it. She lands at least 20 feet past the point of impact. She suffers multiple and extensive injuries all over her body, including a cut to her face, which requires stitches. The medical staff attending her when she arrives at hospital are sufficiently concerned at her condition that they cut her clothes off, to avoid the risk of exacerbating her injuries, and put her on a back-board to protect her spine. She is relatively lucky; none of her bones are broken apart from her wrist. Her bike is basically destroyed by the impact.

The police attend. The driver is breathalysed on the scene. He is positive for alcohol. He is arrested and taken to a police station for a blood test. This test is negative. The most likely explanation is that he had had a few drinks the night before and was just over the limit at the scene, and that the level of alcohol dropped just under by the time he arrived at the station. Perhaps the shock of the crash helped to eliminate some of the excess. Maybe the kit that the police used was faulty, although this in very very unlikely. In any case, the police do not pursue the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver’s explanation for his manouevre is that as the cyclist must have seen him signalling, he expected her to slow to let him turn across her.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention: there was a witness. She stayed on the scene and gave statement to the police, and her name and address.

S is riding west-bound in virtually stationary traffic on the Marylebone Road. She is lane-splitting between the middle and outside lane. She is moving quickly, but not fast. She wants to get to the right of the outside lane, as she thinks there will be more room and she will be able to move faster, safer.

She turns sharp right between two nearly stationary cars. As she turns left to continue west, she becomes aware of a motorcycle approaching behind her. She hears him brake, and then slide. The bike comes to a stop, barely touching her rear wheel, if at all.

The rider is not hurt in any way, and there is some superficial damage to his new (and rather large) bike. He is naturally furious, and tells her that he intends to sue her. The police attend. A taxi-driver who was some distance behind the collision offers his support to the motor-cyclist. The taxi-driver’s written statement includes a description of S as ‘needing a wash’. The motorcyclist’s statement says that he was travelling at 5 mph and skidded at least 20 feet.

Which one of these two cases resulted in a successful prosecution, with a fine and award of court costs against the guilty party?

  1. Well you sound upset so I guess the motorcyclist, but to be fair, S was in the wrong if she pulled out into someone elses path, just as the car was at fault for crossing C’s path. I would however agree that C should have been able to prosecute the car driver for blatant stupidity.

    — N    14 May 2007, 15:47    #
  2. Absolutely right. C will almost certainly get a substantial pay-out from the driver’s insurers, however.

    — Bill    14 May 2007, 16:42    #
  3. Hmm C’s accident sound very simlar to mine. S.E London as well, with the same excuse, “I saw you but you should have stopped for me”. I hop C gets a good pay out.

    — TheBrick    15 May 2007, 14:36    #
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