Always to blame

From the Shropshire Star

A Shrewsbury father-of-three, who was killed in a freak accident as he trained for a charity cycle ride, could have been affected by a fly going into his eye, an inquest has heard. Gary Brierley, 44, of Pendle Way, Meole Brace, suffered major head injuries when he came off his bike at about 40mph near Dinas Mawddwy in Snowdonia in May. He had been training with friends at the time. Mr Brierley, who worked as an accountant for Shropshire Council, was aiming to take part in a charity ride for Cancer Research from John O’Groats to Land’s End in June. A coroner in Cardiff ruled yesterday that an insect going into his eye was a “plausible explanation” for the tragic accident. Mr Brierley had been wearing a helmet but not a protective glasses. [sic]

I note, first, that a thin piece of soft polystrene was in this case insufficient to counteract the effects of a crash at speed. This is unsurprising, given that these pieces of ‘safety equipment’ are only designed to protect at impact speeds resulting from a fall due to gravity through a vertical distance of 1.5 m – a speed of around 12 mph. They are thus nearly useless at any impact speed greater than this  – precisely the kind of high impact velocities that result from being struck by a car, for example.

I note secondly that, despite Mr Brierley wearing a helmet, he still somehow manages to be implicitly blamed for his accident, because he had failed to don ‘protective glasses.’ Presumably this is the next tier of equipment that people on bicycles have to shroud themselves in before venturing out in public.

It is deeply strange how cyclists must often, somehow, be found to be at fault in ways that motorists are not. For instance, it would be absurd to find, in an article about a fatal crash involving a motorist stung by a bee, the additional information that the driver was not wearing a piece of clothing sufficiently thick enough to prevent him from being stung. No. It’s just treated as an accident; an eventuality that could not reasonably have been mitigated against.

Yet when a cyclist dies after getting an insect in his eye, it is somehow relevant to mention the lack of a piece of equipment that may or may not have prevented his fatal injuries.

Double standards.

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5 Responses to Always to blame

  1. Skippy says:

    If he had been wearing the “safety glasses” would he then have been brought up for not having four wheels? as four wheels means his bike would not have fallen over?

  2. Ben Bawden says:

    I think glasses are far more useful as protective equipment than a helmet.
    Being open to the elements us cyclists are at risk of getting things in our eyes.

    It’s still a freak accident though that wasn’t his fault.

  3. Good of you to note this example of victim-blaming bollocks – and to call it such.

    The fact is that although it is useful to give the evidence on such as helmets ( see http://www.cyclehelmets.org for all the evidence you could want), ultimately the issue is that the dominant belief in this society is that you are thought to be at fault if you ride a bicycle.

  4. Kim says:

    I wouldn’t be too sure about the wearing of “safety glasses”, if I hadn’t been wearing sun glasses I might not have broken my clavicle. In the eyes of the press, we are all damned as soon as we touch a bicycle, whereas if you get in a car and drive like a moron, you are a tragic victim if you crash…

  5. Brandt says:

    While this article is on point about the blaming and the helmets, I do support the wearing of protective eyewear. I’ve avoided getting gnats, houseflies, dragonflies, and grasshoppers from potentially flying to my eye with my sunglasses. They are way more useful than a helmet, which, according to the information presented in this article, is of no use to me, because I usually ride faster than 12 mph (and I’m not even considering the vertical bit).

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