When I was confronted with a huge change to my life in December 2006, I made the decision to move 120ks from my home town to Bendigo. I knew nobody there at all, but what I did know was that Bendigo had a fantastic cycling culture. As a keen cyclist it seemed that I would be living my dream. I have absolutely loved the city, the people and as expected, the cycling. Cyclists in lycra can be seen in the many cafes here on the weekend. It’s not an unusual sight at all.
The cycling is quite organised here for those that wish to be organised. There are many bunch rides, starting at various times during the week and especially on the weekends. Each Thursday an email arrives into my inbox outlining upcoming rides, events, tips, warnings of changed road conditions and various interesting items regarding cycling in this city. This email is sent by Eddie, an unofficial Ambassador for cycling. I love the way he promotes cycling to be inclusive, safe and fun.
Today, on reading the email, I was shocked to see a listing of the number and type of injuries that cyclists sustained recently over a period of less than 2 months:
3 x fractured pelvis
4 x fractured collar bones
1 x fractured Femur
2 x broken arms upper and lower
1 x fractured skull
5 x broken ribs
1 x plastic surgery for facial damage
3 x teeth knocked out
2 x extremely serious concussion
1 x punctured lung
8 x broken vertebrae
These injuries were serious enough to require hospitalisation in Bendigo and some patients were airlifted to Melbourne. I’m sure this rate of injury is a departure from normal low injury rates. But when I read this my blood curdled a little. I was horrified that so many cyclists, mostly out for a training ride were becoming badly injured.
I’m not blaming car drivers – or anyone for that matter. Not all of these injuries involved cars. Some were due to unseen debris on the road, and other reasons that I’m not aware of.
Immediately I read about these injuries, my thoughts turned to that dreadful day in May, exactly three years ago this week. I was out riding by myself and a car came through a stop sign and hit me, throwing me onto the bonnet before plonking me down on the whike line in the centre of the road.
All I wanted everyone to do was leave me alone so I could get up off the road and go home. Luckily I was bossed into not moving, and taken by ambulance to emergency. They soon found that I had fractured two vertebrae and also crushed another two. The crushed bones were pushed sideways towards the spinal cord. I was told in no uncertain terms how lucky I was not to be permanently disabled.
The short story is that I recovered and was back on the bike within three months, albeit very slow and shaky. Gradually my injuries and riding improved. I will always now have a weakness in my back, but that is a minor thing compared to never being able to walk and ride again.
So reading about these injuries really did upset me. I know that drivers and cyclists don’t go out on the road intending to cause accidents. But it just goes to show how serious road trauma can be.
Please both cyclists and drivers – take care on the roads and show respect to each other.