Friday, 2 May 2014

Cyclists are helpless when cars become weapons . . .


Cyclists are helpless when cars become weapons

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A new video released by the police shows a car deliberately hitting a cyclist. Has it really come to this, asks Chris Harvey

Cyclists and motorists are forced to share a congested space Photo: Alamy

All cyclists who cycle regularly in a major city will have experienced acts of targeted aggression from motorists.

They come in many forms: the deliberate close pass at speed, the wide turn into your path from a junction that forces you to stop or be pinned against the kerb, the lairy cut across your front wheel, to name only a few. All are common uses of a vehicle to intimidate and frighten cyclists. But a video released by Manchester police shows a terrifying new level of malevolence.

Footage from a security camera shows a car trailing a bicycle before accelerating at speed straight at the cyclist, ramming the bike and its rider from behind. The cyclist hits the pavement; the bike gets trapped under the wheels of the car as the motorist reverses, apparently intending only to make a quick getaway. There is no squeal of brakes before the attack, nothing to suggest that it was caused by inattention while on a mobile. The driver only brakes on impact. And there is absolutely no attempt to stop.

Greater Manchester police have labelled the video: “Vehicle used to assault cyclist at St Mary’s Road, Hyde, Manchester, Saturday 26 April 2014” and made an appeal for information. The video reports that the victim was injured and lucky to survive.

Detective Constable Darren Byrne said: "This was a deliberate, shocking attack against an innocent man, who was lucky to escape more serious injury.

"We are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen the incident, or perhaps even the car in question, which in this case was used as a weapon by the offender.

The incident clearly highlights the most significant thing about the relationship between motorists and cyclists. For all the frustrations of sharing the roads, which can sometimes lead to anger on both sides, the fact remains that one party is encased in metal armour, while the other has only the clothes (and helmet) they’re wearing between themselves and a multitude of hard surfaces. Cars, vans and lorries are a proven deadly weapon when directed against cyclists, whether accidentally or deliberately. It’s the cyclists who get hurt and all motorists would do well to remember it.

I often say that I cycle as though every motorist on the road is trying to kill me. It pays to read the road that way, as though no one is paying too much attention to whether you live or die. But motorists genuinely using their cars as a weapon to attack cyclists? I don’t ever want to believe that’s really true.

Sadly, this shocking incident shows that it can be.

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