For a fairly significant birthday this year (a clue it was somewhere between 30 and 50), my wife and I rode our bikes around the Olympic Velodrome sitting in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It being a few years since my cycling proficiency, my nerves were turned right up to maximum. The fact that our slot had to be delayed for an hour as paramedics scooped up a hapless rider from the track, whilst hastily diagnosing the inevitable broken collar bone, did nothing for my comfort levels. It also gave me more time than was healthy to stare endlessly at that banking. A gentle slope it is not!
Riding a fixed wheel bike without any brakes requires concentration. Lots of it. Determined not to become casualty number two of the day, I spent more time thinking about the speed of my back pedalling than the fact that I was crossing the same finishing line that Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton had done 5 years before. After an hour of furious pedalling I was shattered, and wondered if I would ever regain feeling in my legs.
There is a problem with all this though.
There now seems to be a current craze to ride bikes with fixed wheels and no brakes on the streets. Known as ‘Fixies’, riders take off their brakes simply because they think it looks cooler and rely solely on back pedalling and something called ‘skid-stopping’ to come to a halt.
This has been shown to have tragic consequences. Last year Kim Briggs died when she was struck by a young London cyclist, Charlie Alliston who was riding such a bike. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The trial Judge commented that using a bike with no front brakes was “an accident waiting to happen” and that “if he had a front brake he could have stopped”.
Aliston was found guilty of causing bodily injury by wanton and furious driving, a law dating back to 1861. As a result of this conviction, the Government are now urgently looking at creating a new offence equivalent to causing death or serious injury by careless or dangerous driving. So often we think of the dire consequences when cyclists are hit by vehicles. We have all heard of the campaigns such as the Government’s THINK! Campaign. We see appalling videos of drivers giving cyclists no room and driving them off the road. We like to believe that we are a cycling friendly country, but anyone who has been to cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam knows this isn’t true. Now though it seems that we must think about the same sort of damage being done to pedestrians from cyclists who ride dangerously. Given the huge increase in cycling in recent years this has to be right and it is important that all is done to ensure the above story is not repeated ever again.
Coole Bevis supports all worthwhile campaigns to make our roads safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Tim Ransley is an Associate Solicitor at Coole Bevis and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (Roadsmart). He acts for clients who have suffered life changing disabilities, often as a result of head, spinal or orthopaedic injuries sustained in road traffic accidents. He is happy to act for clients on no win no fee agreements and seeks to obtain rehabilitation at an early stage that can make such a difference to a client’s recovery. Tim is happy to have an initial consultation free of charge and is available on 01273 716616.