A few weeks ago on a ride home from work I was given a stark reminder of how vulnerable a cyclist can be. It definitely serves to remind me that we can’t be too careful out there:

Wear all the protection you can, keep yourself visible and stay alert.

(Although I was doing all 3 and still suffered, the consequences could have been a lot worse if I wasn’t).

Golden protection

2020 has had a really tough start to the year with relentless winds constantly slowing me down and many soakings in the rain. However, they are nothing compared to the shock I received half way home on this particular ride…


It had been a comparitively tame ride into the headwind and I was pleased to see that the rain had stopped before I left the office. Getting out of Edinburgh was the usual case of filtering through slow moving traffic and slowly working my way out of town. At almost the halfway point my journey changes from city-scape to country roads. At this point I have a few route options to take and usually decide depending on my mood and the weather conditions (they all pretty much end up being the same distance overall).

(not the bike I was riding)

On this Monday I decided to head out through Newbridge industrial estate towards some small towns on the way to Livingston. The route through the industrial estate is one I have taken 310 times according to my strava tracking app. This leaves me quite well aware of the potential dangers: where the potholes are lurking, where the traffic might try to overtake, where cars might be waiting to join the road from side roads…

About halfway through the industrial estate, on a straight bit of road, my eye was drawn to some movement at an approaching side street. No problem I thought, it’s just someone waiting to turn out onto my road. They did indeed want to turn and were heading in the opposite direction to myself, so needed to cross my lane.

I was now right on the junction and rather than waiting for me to pass they started speeding up, getting closer and closer to me. It was a split second scenario and I did all I could to move across to the middle of the road, trying to speed up and get out of the way. Unfortunately, he came straight into the side of me with his front bumper, dragging me along a bit before launching me and my bike to the ground.

Bumper bumps

I remember the car impact quite clearly and the crunching sound as his bumper crashed into my bike, but hitting the road is a bit of a blur. The next thing I remember was detatching myself from my bike and slowly getting up from the ground. Despite a few aches I was pretty sure than there were no broken bones. Thankfully there were no other vehicles approaching so I was able to assess my damage while the driver of the car came over to apologise and help me out.

Obviously, as a cyclist, the next thing I checked was what state my bike was in and whether I could ride it home!

A big dent in the top tube looked bad but not fatal. Sadly I soon noticed the seat tube had sheared almost completely in half and my left crank was bent against the frame, all rendering any thoughts of riding home futile.

It’s actually a good job because my left wrist was getting pretty sore and my back and right hip were also giving me trouble – probably not the best idea to jump back on the bike and ride another 9 miles home. The unfortunate driver at this point offered to give me a lift back home so we squeezed my bike into his car and headed home.


Although this incident has left me a bit nervous around junctions, I won’t let it stop me from my daily cycle commute. I don’t see how I am any more at risk now than for any of the 50,000 miles previously logged (without any car interactions). If anything it has heightened my awareness – for now anyway.

The driver of the car kept telling me on the way back to my house, that he just didn’t expect to see a cyclist on that road so his brain must not have registered it. I guess the fact is that cycling is still very much in the minority compared to car driving. This is one more reason for me to want to continue doing it –

We need more cyclists on the road, and especially commuting, not less!

His reaction also highlights a problem people have when driving. They should NOT be driving to expectation alone. Instead, they need to be observing all the time. On a bike your senses are constantly stimulated and I am scanning my suroundings at all times. In a car we are sheltered and feel like both ourselves and everything around us is protected beyond the reality. This maybe leaves us more prone to careless driving.

Mobile phones and in car entertainment systems have added a scary amount of distraction these days, but plain old innatention can still result in serious consequences. I am still counting my blessings that mine were not more serious!

Sadly, there is no hope for the bike…

Farewell Giant
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Comments (2)

  1. Reply

    Do you have any third party insurance or are you a member of British Cycling, I’ve had a couple of scrapes like yours over the last three years, have always considered it but never followed through. Last year i had an accident avoiding being hit by a car that snapped my frame and it’s taken nearly 12 months to claim, (still not settled) but i really think i should pony up for membership or some insurance?

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