Two serious road accidents in three days have gone a long way to scaring me off my bike.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

The first occurred in Brisbane, Friday afternoon.

A cyclist on their commute home was hit from behind shortly after moving away from a set of lights near Mount Gravatt. Though there is nothing to say the driver acted maliciously, the accident was entirely preventable.

A record of the accident captured on a dashboard camera on a passing van shows exactly what happened. A white Audi, attempting to move into an overtaking lane tailgates the cyclist in front, before in a moment of inattention, simply ploughs into them.



The vision is shocking. It's unclear why the driver was so needlessly close to the cyclist riding directly in front of them, in plain sight, and with nothing obscuring their view. At best it's negligent driving.

The rider is lucky to be alive. To have escaped with "missing skin and a few interesting bruises" when he could very easily have gone under the car, or even been knocked into faster moving traffic in the adjacent lane is a miracle.

And then two days later, Sunday 17 March, on a road I frequent often myself, an even more disturbing accident occurred. This time, it wasn't just one cyclist that went down but several. The exact details of the incident are unclear, but we do know the riders were in a bunch of approximately 20-30 riders heading northbound in the breakdown lane.

A Nissan four-wheel drive approaching from behind then collided with the rear of the bunch taking out several cyclists, and putting six in hospital. The aftermath, of bikes strewn up to a 100 metres from where the initial impact took place goes to show the speed the collision took place.

Two of the riders involved have suffered spinal injuries, and one is reported to be facing a six-month recovery. Thankfully, there has been no loss of life.

Again, visibility cannot have been a problem. The road, Southern Cross Drive is a busy one, but at the time in the morning the incident took place (8am AEDT), bunches are commonplace.

The shoulder of the road isn't an ideal place to ride, but it is big enough for a bunch, two-abreast to ride comfortably without hindering the flow of traffic. It's long and straight, and any car approaching from behind would have ample time to see the bunch ahead of them if their attention was on the road. Yet the accident still took place.

In the wake of Sunday's accident there's been quite a bit of debate stirred, and some constructive points have been raised by Peter Maniaty here including, in my opinion, the best point that "everyone should start taking far greater care and responsibility for their own actions".

However, the frightening thing about both of these accidents is that there is no obvious reason for either of them to have occurred. There is no 'what can I take from this' or 'what would I have done differently?'. I would've, I very well could've, been in that bunch on Sunday. I could be in that bunch next Sunday.

Be careful?

They were being careful.

Be visible?

It was broad daylight and they were in plain sight.

Ride defensively?

Both accidents involved being hit from behind.

The mildest inattention from a driver has vast ramifications for those on two-wheels. A momentary lapse is all it takes, even from an experienced driver.

Which makes me wonder, is it worth it?

When I kit up for my long weekend ride, is this worth it? When I commute to work am I be better to take the train? Whether it's better to run, swim or walk to keep fit than to actively risk skin, bone, even life, on a bicycle.

I don't relish any of those prospects, because I love riding, I love my bike. But at the moment in a busy urban centre like Sydney's I'm not seeing an obvious alternative. I'm spooked.