Rumours and gossip
23.08.06 by Buffalo Bill
Most bicycle messengers like a good gossip. They listen to rumours, and repeat them, adding their own interpretations and embellishments. Gossip about me has included assertions that I was seen doing coke in the toilets at the Pleasure Unit (not true, I haven’t done coke for at least 15 years), that I was chartering an aeroplane to take a bunch of messengers to Toronto (also not true) and that I was doing the Knowledge (absolutely definitely 100% not true, but if you ever see me on a C90 with a clip-board attached to the bars, you all have my permission to push me off). But it’s nice that people are thinking of me.
Rumours of fatal collisions involving bicycle messengers circulate regularly. Last week a rumour did the rounds that Reuter Brooks rider had been killed at work. It turned out that the rumour originated with a new story about the ‘death of cycle couriers in London’, a piece about the ebbing of demand for messenger services, and featured a quote from a Reuter Brooks rider.
This week, I have heard two seperate rumours regarding fatal or near-fatal collisions involving cyclists, possibly messengers. One of the collisions was supposed to have taken place on Lower Thames Street, and involved a car and a guy riding a green and white fixed gear. The rider was ‘seen’ being taken away in an ambulance. This was rumoured to have happened on Monday.
The other was supposed to have happened today, I am not sure where. In this case, the rumour originated with a taxi-driver, and was passed to a Churchill’s rider. The taxi driver said that the ambulance was not going anywhere fast, which suggests that the cyclist had already expired.
Because it is unlikely that any cyclist’s death is likely to be reported, I always pay attention to rumours, even if they come from taxi-drivers. Seb Lukomski’s death was the only one of the seven London bicycle messengers known to have been killed whilst working to have been reported in the media. In every year from 1992 to 2002, at least 14 London cyclists have been killed, and I can only think of four that have made even the local news.
Dead cyclists don’t make the papers, unless the media can tag a new angle to their deaths. An iPod, a killer bike lane. Cyclists being crushed to death by negligent lorry-drivers, or cut in two by drunk drivers are simply not news-worthy.
It is hard to get any information from the police after any incident, and they do not volunteer information, so often the only indication that anything has happened at all are those yellow boards that they put up.
My apologies to that well known sensitive soul John O’Driscoll for spreading yet more bad vibes.