This afternoon I collided with a van at about 15mph while heading from Porty to Leith on Seafield Road. The oncoming driver turned right into my path. I braked. Skidded. He eventually saw me and hit his brake and I body-slammed into his left side in the drizzly rain.
The bike seemed OK but it turns out the forks are bent, the right gear shifter is damaged and the wheel has a slight buckle. It is pretty inconvenient to me and expensive for the van driver but I do have the luxury of a spare bike. There is quite a bit of pain and a clicking sound which happens if I move the wrong way and as the hours have passed it is getting harder to lift my right arm above my head but my fingers work so I can type away. These things can focus the mind although if you ask my wife she will tell you I have been pretty vacant since. Just mulling things over… As you do do do do do…
What? Oh yeah. I had been up Princes Street this morning with my boy heading to the Book Festival at Charlotte Square for I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt where he read the book to us and we got to draw worms and finally we queued up to get a nice signed copy with an doodled “A” for Aiden shaped like a worm. There is more to life than music. Saying that, I was at the Kathryn Joseph instore yesterday to get my copy her new record signed and I was planning to blog about her terrific new album today. I still will later in the week but because I don’t think she has written a song about crashing her push-bike into a van it is hard to get a link in so here is a picture of the worm book instead.
Anyway, we were looking out the back of the bus as my three and a half year old loves buses and trams. I saw a queue of three double-deckers and a woman leisurely pedalling along in front of them on a bike. I thought she was crazy and wondered why she ended up there. Just the other week, I cut across Princes Street on the bike to get to the shop from Bridges and it is just really difficult to turn right across the tram tracks without your front tyre getting stuck. I had to literally stop and lift the front tyre over as my natural angle of approach was never going to work. A young medical student was killed at the Lothian Road end last year after her wheel got stuck and she fell in front of a minibus so I have always tried to avoid if possible.
Back in 2010 there was a Guardian article asking “Is Princes Street is too dangerous for cyclists?” Aye, I would say so. However, the alternative -Queen Street is a state of potholes. Trams and potholes… But I didn’t start this to have a gurn at the cooncil.
TRAM BUS TAXI BICYCLE ONLY
That word again. Worm. Worm. Worm. Worm… But the author (and illustrator) pronounced it Wirm. With a prolonged i sound. Wiiim. Scottish folk will tend to say Wurm with a rolled “r” and Doric Scots from Aberdeenshire like me and Kathryn Joseph say Wurrim with a verry purry “r”. Aha! That reminds me – Kathryn released a song called The Worm as a single in 2015! It is a song that did not quite fit on the Award winning bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled album and it has little to do with the new one but if I share it, it will hopefully be enough to tie this slightly weird music-cycling-worm based blog post together.
Princes Street is chock full of double decker buses with massive blind spots pulling in and out, taxis doing U turns at the East-End, trams ding dinging along -At least they’re predictable… and the aforementioned tram lines that have been leading to those on bikes getting hurt since they were introduced. I’m surprised there have not been more deaths -especially of visitors. I have to add that the Lothian bus drivers have been great when I have been cycling near them but the truth is that around rush hour there are places that you simply do not want to be. Chamber’s Street to Princes Street, Leith Street, Haymarket, Tollcross, Lothian Road. Even Leith Walk with its new cycle lanes can be a hairy experience.
I am happy to see there is some work to improve cycling through Scotland and Edinburgh has some good cycle routes eg Water of Leith; but the cyclists have taken over a bit making it harder for dog walkers. Spokes (@Spokeslothian) are long-time campaigners on local cycling safety issues and are worth following.
I just wanted after today’s experience to say to cyclists to plan the route ahead, even short trips and to the drivers to keep an eye out and take your time especially when it’s raining. Cyclists (and everyone), take care for wandering pedestrians especially during the festival. Stockbridge seems particularly prone to folk nipping across the road between parked cars. Slow down for dogs. Speed up if being chased by a dog. Simple stuff. Most cyclists aren’t perfect but no one likes a 4 hour wait in A&E just to get checked over and explaining the dent in the wing to your boss could be problematic.
The good news is that there are plenty songs about bicycles.
And plenty of songs about crashes. They have a propensity to not do so well so I will be avoiding the likes Johnny Bond for a while.
The Pogues on Worms…
There is some advice for folk who are hit here. My advice would be just call the police as the guy might initially be keen not to involve his insurance company and offer to pay out of his pocket but probably won’t realise the replacement costs of bike parts these days and then stall a bit. Cheaper than body parts fella!
On a happier note, I found an original copy of this psychedelic gem a wee while ago. It’s a cracking song. The kind of slam of sorts that I particularly enjoy. Oooft!