Dear Bradley Wiggins…

Yesterday I was a little bit in love with Bradley Wiggins. Those sideburns, his slightly geeky good looks, that gold medal (and the Tour de France win), and the fact that he is, by all accounts, a genuine Good Bloke…*sigh*.

That was yesterday. Today…well, today I’m not so sure.

I woke up to the sad news that a cyclist had been killed in a collision with an Olympic bus near the Olympic site. But this tragedy was tempered – for me, anyway – by the fact that Bradley Wiggins had apparently weighed in with a call to improve road safety for cyclists. Was Wiggo, my knight in a yellow jersey, going to prove himself a champion for cyclists all across the country?

No. He was going to talk about helmets.

“If you get knocked off and you ain’t got a helmet on, then how can you kind of argue”.
“[People] shouldn’t be riding along with iPods and phones and things on and [they] should have lights and all those things.”

Bradley, my dear. What have helmets and iPods and phones got to do with a guy on a bike being dragged underneath a bus?Wiggo is a powerful and influential man now. Just think how many people have been inspired to get on their bikes since he won the Tour de France. And just think how many people might listen to him if he started talking about the real issues affecting cycling in the UK. Things like drivers’ awareness of (and attitudes towards) cyclists, and about road design…the things that most regular cyclists have to deal with on an almost daily basis.

But he didn’t. Instead his comments fed into the belief that cyclists are reckless and irresponsible. Judging by many of the comments I’ve heard and read about yesterday’s collision, there are already more than enough people who believe we have only ourselves to blame when we get knocked off our bikes or killed. How many more will now think that it’s up to us to change our behaviour if we want to stay safe on the roads?

I don’t know the exact circumstances of the incident yesterday, but judging by the photos it looks as if the bus was turning left across the path of the cyclist. It’s not clear from the photo which lane the bus was in before it tried to turn – but just ahead of where the accident happened, there’s a clearly marked Games lane in the middle of the road. The Evening Standard quotes another cyclist as riding next to the cyclist who was killed as they approached the lights. To have two cyclists side-by-side suggests to me they had a whole lane to cycle in. My guess is that the cyclists were in the left-hand lane and the bus was in the lane to their right before it tried to turn left. On this basis, then, there is no indication (as far as I can tell) that the cyclist was doing anything wrong.

I fear, however, that Wiggo’s comments will lead people into thinking he was. And for that reason I’m afraid my love has turned a little sour today.

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