A cyclist who is lucky to be alive after being hit by a car has spoken out to raise awareness of dangers faced on the roads.
“The first time I saw the remains of my bike, I cried,” says Duncan, a Portishead resident who was knocked down and badly injured by a driver on his commute home from Bristol.
The driver was trying to overtake but had not left enough room, so pulled in sharply to avoid a head-on collision and ploughed into the 40-year-old cyclist.
“The realisation hit me hard on how serious my collision was. I kept having flashbacks and intrusive thoughts, and it stopped me sleeping,” says Duncan.
“Over time my memory came back. I was reminded of the initial violent bang from the impact of being hit by the car, and then later being in the road in and out of consciousness, with someone trying to move me and paramedics trying to talk to me. That feeling of being frozen would overcome me night after night.
“Doctors told me afterwards I was very lucky to be alive. The day I came home from the hospital and first saw my children was very emotional, and I held them tightly.”
PC Purchase was the first response officer to arrive on the scene that day and remembers the first thing he saw was the remains of Duncan’s bike, which has been broken into pieces.
“There wasn’t really anything else Duncan could’ve done that day to prevent him getting caught up in a collision,” says PC Purchase.
“He took cycling very seriously and the route was one he took regularly so he was confident in his bike-handling skills.
“Wearing a helmet and high visibility clothing, he could be easily seen, but unfortunately the driver misjudged the time and space they needed to overtake Duncan safely.”
Figures from Avon and Somerset Police reveal a third of all reported road traffic collisions in 2018 involved a cyclist or motorcyclist. Of a total 2,707 injury collisions recorded over this time, 879 involved someone on two wheels.
The force is launching a campaign – as part of the National Police Chief’s Council 2Wheels Campaign – to improve safety for bikers and clamp down on dangerous driving.
Uniformed and plain-clothed officers on bikes have been issued with cameras to target areas where cyclists are put in danger. Drivers caught passing unsafely will be offered education, or, in the most serious cases, reported for an offence which could lead to six points on their licence and a £200 fine.
As part of the campaign, road users are encouraged to report any incidents or near misses to the police, so officers can identify key areas.
Launching the initiative at the Rolls Royce Filton HQ on Tuesday, officers and cyclists highlighted the importance of raising awareness and reporting near misses to improve safety and, ultimately, encourage more people to travel by bike.
Ben Von Bertele, Rolls Royce’s bike users group chair, says a key goal for him is increasing the number of employees who cycle to work – currently 20 per cent of the workforce.
“We always work closely with police and local councils because a large population of our employees regularly cycle to work,” he tells Bristol24/7.
“The thing is making sure they get to and from work safely. We have been encouraging people to report near misses because police can identify key areas – that’s the only way we are going to make it safer.”
Road safety officer for Avon and Somerset Police Damien Devanny, says: “Part of my role is to work closely with data in order to help identify risk in advance. Our online near miss tool received 437 reports from cyclists in 2018 and, along with collision data, this helps us to better target our education and enforcement activity.
“Every near miss is a potential incident and we want to make the roads safer for all road users. We’d like to use this campaign as an opportunity to remind all road users to report near misses.
“There is enough space for everyone and Duncan’s story is just one example of how, had the driver just waited until he had a safe opportunity to overtake, then things could have turned out a lot differently.”
Police advice for road users:
- Think about your arm span: Motorists should leave 1.5 metres when they overtake, which is slightly less than the arm span of an average adult.
- Get to grips with defensive riding: Adopting defensive riding techniques can help those on two wheels safeguard themselves against other road users’ error.
- Wear high-visibility clothing and position yourself on the safest part of the road to make yourself more visible to other road users. Reducing speed enables riders to see round bends and stop more easily if necessary.
- Report incidences of near misses online: Any road user can report a near miss and upload dashcam footage (where there has been a potential road offence) via: www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/nearmiss