One is struck by the irony that the British cyclist Bradley Wiggins has been knocked off his bike, thankfully his injuries are not severe and he should make a full recovery.
It looks obvious, although the details have not yet been fully established, that it's been a simple accident, but one where the woman van driver didn't see the cyclist in question - and one that will probably be established as being her fault. It's reported that the woman is naturally shook up and undoubtedly now will be subject to her personal details being splashed across our papers tomorrow.
In response, with world weary anger, undoubtedly cycling and motorbike organisations will point to SMIDSY (Sorry Mate I Didn't See You) syndrome, not without some justification. Conversely many complaints will be made by motorists against the behaviour of cyclists and motorbikes for disregarding the rules of the road (though in Wiggins' case probably highly unlikely), equally not without some justification. Thus will begin ultimately a fruitless war of words.
However, there is one element that in my view is often largely overlooked in these cases but a contributory factor. As cars have evolved and progressed much emphasis has been on safety for its occupants: air-bags, ABS brakes. traction control and so on. They have also been designed to be much safer for their occupants in terms of a rigid passenger cell, all a process rated by the Euro NCAP system. Safety, particularly the top rated Euro NCAP 5, sells as it does for the car I drive and it is one that possibly saved my life - if not a serious injury - 2 years ago, when I was able to open the door and walk away with nothing more than a
bruise on my leg. Obviously I'm hugely thankful.
But there's a price to pay. To make a rigid passenger cell requires much thicker door frames, particularly the 'A-frame' between the windscreen and the door. As a result in my car to earn its safety ranking the blind spots are horrendous: it's not just pedestrians and cyclists but whole cars 'disappear'. Roundabouts are turned into Russian Roulette as the ability to see off starboard bow becomes non existent - other road users become invisible. In addition by reversing the car forget seeing a cyclist, child or pedestrian, just making out an elephant would be a challenge.
Thus lies the dilemma - by making the car safer for its occupants it in return makes it less safer for other road users, perhaps we need look at more what we mean by safety. So while I appreciate the case for SMIDSY, for car drivers it has increasingly become more of a case of SMICSABT (Sorry Mate I Can't See A Bloody Thing).