The Evening Post have just reported the death of the third cyclist to be killed on the streets of Bristol this year. A collision occurred on October 24th near the junction of Batten Road and Hillside Road in St George which resulted in critical injuries to the cyclist who subsequently died as a result of the injuries. This represents another blow for Cycling City which aims to encourage more people to cycle while doing little to make our streets safer.
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As yet little is publically known about the circumstances other than that the cyclist had emerged from the side road before being hit by a car, although the Police are already using prejudicial language like "the cyclist emerged without warning..." which rather begs the question of what 'warning' should be given. Nothing that I know of in the Highway Code that says you should give a warning before emerging from a side road. We look forward to an explanation for this bizarre language from the Police.
As always it is tempting but dangerous to speculate about the exact circumstances, but we do know that in the vast majority of instances of cyclists being killed a motor vehicle driving at excessive speed is involved. We also know that Hillside Road is one of those radial rat runs where speeding is endemic and where cyclists have been killed before. So it would be surprising if speed was not the crucial factor.
Quite simply it is the speed and weight (mass) of motor vehicles that creates the danger on our roads. A one tonne motor vehicle being driven at 32 mph has 100,000 Joules of kinetic energy compared to just 1,000 Joules of kinetic energy for a 100 kg cyclist riding at 10 mph. In most cases it is the massive force brought to bear by the motor vehicle that causes such life threatening injuries. Which is why it is so important that speed limits are bought down and effectively enforced, not just on side roads but on main roads like Hillside Road.
Later edit (6/11/09) - Police website report here.