From the Birmingham Post –
Hospitals see 50 per cent rise in cycling accidents since Olympics
Cyclists inspired to hit the streets by Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic stars have left medics battling a 50 per cent rise in bike accidents. Figures collected by Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital showed falls from bikes had increased from an average of 20 per month last year to 30 this year.
It is, of course, entirely possible that there are 50 per cent more people riding bikes in Birmingham compared to the equivalent period last year, as a result of the ‘Olympic fever’ this story talks about, in which case the 50 per cent rise in bike ‘accidents’ might not be quite so alarming. But we don’t know. The rise in casualties are presented in isolation, which isn’t helpful.
And more than 70 people went to the A&E department last month suffering cycle-related injuries, while four people died in collisions.
Two of these people who died in collisions in and around Birmingham were 18-year-old Anthony Phillips, who was killed when a car mounted the pavement in Droitwich, and an as yet unnamed 19-year-old who was hit by a bus while cycling in Wolverhampton. Another cyclist, Paul Lake, was found dead by the road in highly suspicious circumstances in Kingswinsford, near Wolverhampton. He had suffered ‘serious injuries’; it is still unclear what happened to him. The fourth cycling death in the area appears to be that of 78-year-old Arthur Bough, who was hit by a lorry in Kidderminster, some 20 miles from Birmingham.
A flavour of the other ‘accidents’ involving cyclists around Birmingham comes from this incident in Ashchurch where a cyclist was struck by a Range Rover towing a caravan. He suffered ‘serious injuries’ and was airlifted to the aforementioned Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Likewise this cyclist was also airlifted to the hospital with ‘multiple injuries’ after being hit by a van in Solihull. The article notes that
the van also hit a house after colliding with the bike
Which gives some idea of the force with which this man must have been hit.
What does the hospital have to say about these incidents? Margaret Garbett, the hospital trust’s matron for A&E –
“Over the last two months we have seen minor injuries, such as cuts and broken bones, and some very serious injuries, including four fatalities. The majority of those patients were not wearing protective equipment such as helmets or brightly-coloured clothing.
“Cycling is a great sport and we actively encourage our staff and the public to keep fit by cycling but, first and foremost, we want people to be safe on their bikes. We hope our campaign will encourage cyclists to wear protective equipment and clothing, to ride safely on the roads. We also hope motorists will be more aware of cyclists when they are driving.”
I hate to break this to Margaret Garbett, but brightly-coloured clothing is not ‘protective equipment’. (Cycling isn’t necessarily a ‘sport’ either, nor is it a ‘hobby’, as the BBC journalist in this now lapsed video about the same story described it).
Nor is a polystyrene hat going to be any use at all when you are struck by buses, lorries, or cars mounting the pavement, or vans that subsequently damage houses.
Frankly this is an insane response to cyclists being killed and seriously injured on the roads around Birmingham. It appears to me that the hospital is not paying any attention at all to the circumstances under which people are being maimed and killed while riding bikes, and only observing the absence of day-glo jackets and polystyrene helmets when they arrive broken and bleeding in their accident and emergency department.
But never mind. They’ve teamed up with Halfords to launch a ‘cycle safety campaign’.
QE staff are dealing with so many biking accidents that the hospital has launched a cycle safety campaign with store chain Halfords and safety charity RoSPA. It aims to encourage motorists and cyclists to take more care on the roads and urges them to wear protective gear such as helmets and high-visibility clothing.
This poorly-worded sentence appears to suggest that motorists in the area are also being ‘encouraged’ wear high-visibility clothing and helmets, but of course that can’t be right. Motorists never suffer head injuries.