I subscribe to a feed on Google News with the search term bicycle. It tends to be a rather depressing feed, with news stories of bicycles hit by cars on a daily basis. This one stood out among the rest: “Furious driver takes out 50-strong cycle pack” from the Sydney Morning Herald.
Witnesses to the crash have told smh.com.au the group of about up to 60 professional cyclists were riding south on Southern Cross Drive, just south of Dacey Avenue, Mascot about 6.30am when a driver, agitated with being held up, accelerated in front of the pack and then slammed on his brakes, giving the riders no time to stop.
Michelle Ferris, who was at the front of the pack, described the collision.
“We we’re all in the left hand lane and this Ford Falcon came from the middle lane and swerved into the front of the bunch and braked suddenly,” she said.
“We were doing about 40 kilometres an hour , there was no way for me to go and I went straight into the back of his car and other riders went into me.
Looking through the Google feed, I came across this follow-up. “Driver from 50-bicycle smash speaks: ‘It wasn’t my fault’” from livenews.com.au.
‘Jason’ called in to say the accident wasn’t his fault and that the group of cyclists was trying to overtake him when a number of them smashed into his car.
He says a mechanical problem caused his sudden stop – his car had just been converted to dual-fuel and a gas misfire meant he had to pull over.
As cyclists, are we too quick to blame motorists for all bike/car accidents? I rarely, if ever, see reports of accidents where it is determined to be the cyclists fault. Is it because it is always motorists fault? Surely cyclists are at fault sometimes. In this incident, the cyclists did rear-end the car. Does it even matter if the motorist did it on purpose or not, if he was the one who was rear-ended?
Following Too Close
Should some or all of the cyclists be charged with “following too close“, even for following too close to the rider in front of them? If I’m driving my car and there is an accident in front of me, and then I plow into, I’d be charged with “following too close” or some similar infraction. This 50 bike accident would not of happened if the riders at the front were able to stop in time to avoid hitting the car or as severe if the riders following other riders were able to stop before hitting the rider in front of them. I realize this is a dangerous precedent for road riding in a peleton or even a bike convoy. I am not up to speed on traffic laws in Australia, so I wonder if there is a law saying bikes must ride single file, as there is in many jurisdictions in North America.
Are cyclists too quick to point the finger when they in fact breaking laws themselves?