Tuesday, 30 March 2010
War hero killed by a pothole?
The national newspapers are finally interested in a cycling fatality, reporting that the Afghan War veteran Captain Jonathan Allen was killed by a pothole last week as he rode home along the A338 in Wiltshire. I am not in possession of the full facts which will, I trust, be explored fully at an Inquest. However it does appear to me far too simplistic to blame the pothole. Captain Allen was run down by an HGV. It is a sorry feature of cycling in this country that a significant proportion of traffic fails to give adequate room when overtaking. In Spain and France, overtaking traffic is required to allow a margin of at least 1.5 metres. Here the Highway Code implies (though not without an unfortunate degree of ambiguity) that a car width is required. It also follows as a matter of incontrovertible physics that the larger and faster your vehicle the greater the care you must exercise when overtaking a bicycle. Did the HGV wait until nothing was coming the other way and pull into the adjacent lane in order to overtake? If he did, how did this collision occur notwithstanding the pothole in Captain Allen's lane? It is no good just 'blaming' the pothole. The fact that cyclists need to avoid potholes, and may even be brought down by potholes, is one of many reasons why motorists (and HGVs in particular) must GIVE CYCLISTS ROOM.