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I regualrly communte to work in central London and am a careful cyclist. I am a quite guy and mind my own business - I hardly talk and try not to get into confrontations. The other week I was involved in a serious crash that was entirely the fault of the pedestrian who decided to walk out in between 2 buses and was on her phone whilst crossing a busy road - I saw here really late and crashed right into her at a high speed; I was flown forward into the road - she collapsed and thankfully after a few minutes she got up albeit with a number of injuries herself; I also still have injuries to bear but has not stopped me from cycling.

The problem was that when the crash happened a lot of people came to help (mainly her) but there were one or two who said "why was I not looking" and "you need to be more careful". I do not talk much and I was also in slight shock (the wind was taken out of me) however, once the lady got up she apologized a lot and said it was entirely her fault and the bus driver also agreed.

However, some people still gave me dodgy looks and I was thinking what else could I have done or said to make them believe it was not my fault? If I said anything it may have aggravated the situation and with me being silent it kind of still aggravated the situation...its a no win situation.

If only she had walked a few meters to the traffic lights this whole mess would never have happened and if only she had been watching the road instead of her phone - I hope she is fine and learnt a valuable lesson but I am yet to decide how else I could have handled this.

UPDATE:

Didn't think this would blow up the way it would...thanks for the posts.

Some points...

  • Am I at fault - yeah, probably, and I am one of the first to apologise (if you know us British people we say sorry even when it is not our fault) - however I am yet to see how I could have possibly seen her hidden between two buses and squeezing past them running to reach the other side. Even if I was going at 1 mph or 2 0mph - I just would not have seen her until the very last second - granted a lower speed means greater reaction time however (read later on) after 10 years of cycling this I never expected to see this in any day of the week.

  • I travel this path everyday (weekday) for the past 10 years - its not like this was new to me.

  • I am not a racer, nor do I have a racing bike - I do not have the fancy gadgets some poeple have - asking me "how fast I was travelling" will not bring any fruition as I have no idea...which leads me to the point of the "high speed" I mention is something I would consider in myself that I am doing - I am one of the slowest in a group of riders so I think you guys seem to think I was going at some crazy speed - I am a commuter rider, not a racer - so not sure if this came across.

  • This happened between Bank and Chancery Lane - if anyone knows this place there is a slope down to the traffic lights whereby you can easy go above your normal speed (however, not too much high speed as traffic tends to turn left at the lights so your constantly on your brakes anyway...I can't be too sure but I reckon I may have been braking as I apprached the green lights.

  • There was no bus stop nor any people coming off buses - I am not sure why some of you think this? Even the bus driver who came off the bus sided with me (which surprised me as Buses can be an pain with cyclist) - if there were people coming off a bus then why would anyone cycle fast? That would be self-defeating.

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    This belongs on interpersonal.stackexchange.com, however, there was nothing you could do to change those people's minds and really does not matter. What do you care what they think? Not arguing with them was the best course of action to have taken. – Argenti Apparatus Aug 23 '18 at 11:49
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    People generally dislike whomever is using a form of transportation that they're not. Cars hate bikes, bikes hate cars, peds hate bikes and cars, etc. So, you, as a cyclist, REGARDLESS OF CAUSE, are going to be frowned upon by pedestrians, who are there thinking "gosh I'm walking, that person could have totally crashed into me! They need to look where they're going." But as Argenti noted... Why do you care? You know you're in the right. Just move on. – Ross Aug 23 '18 at 13:33
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    You say "high speed" yet claim entirely not your fault. As a cyclist, you have the same responsibility as every road user to ride(drive) to the conditions. Screaming past a bus letting off passengers "at high speed" puts you in a situation where you are no longer blameless. The test in law is would a prudent rider have been traveling that fast. The degree of blamelessness is predicated on how fast were you going. – mattnz Aug 23 '18 at 22:37
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    Seems to happen every second week in my town - cyclist riding at high speeds in heavy traffic, inevitable happens and they blames everyone else but themselves. I still don't know how fast you or the busses were traveling, so in this case I reserve judgement till you tell us. – mattnz Aug 24 '18 at 1:52
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    People probalby thought it was at a bus stop because that's the most common situation in which two buses would be stationary while other traffic is moving, and the most common situation in which somebody would be crossing between two buses. People think you were going fast because you said you were going fast. – David Richerby Aug 24 '18 at 21:54
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Note: this answer is not trying to determine or attribute blame for the incident, rather it focuses on why the general public may attribute more blame to “cyclist” than may seem appropriate to the asker. This was the original context of the question. Since then, the thread has evolved into an attempt to apportion blame. Given that all the information available is from one party, who was part of the incident, I have no interest in this discussion as unbiased sources of information are not available.

On the short term (i.e., the crash site) there is little that can be done as London news media and Facebook have been keen to make cyclist out to be the “bad guy” for the last few years. This sets the “social norm” and changes people’s perception filters, that is in the absence of evidence our brains fill in information based on our preconceptions. This cognitive bias cannot be corrected unless faced with overwhelming evidence, even then it can still be difficult to get people to revise their perspective. Most people simply do not wish to reflection their potential misconceptions, they want simple answers. It is easier to paint a whole group you do not identify with as “bad” and not consider the topic again.

In your circumstance (i.e., London) I think the best you can do is expect this type of response, that way you won't over-react when accused of things you didn't do. Any type of over-reaction will simply give people fuel to further believe their misconceptions. You should also expect this type of bias from from the police as well as they people who are susceptible to the same sort of cognitive biases, especially if they do not themselves cycle or know anyone who cycles. You should also look to protect your legal self-interest by have your own unbiased witness (i.e., timestamped cameras facing front and back, as well as telemetry to confirm your speeds). That way, if you face a legal challenge you at least have some non-biased evidence of what actually transpired.

  • That is well put I think, explains why there is little you could have said at the time to affect people’s opinions, they’ve made up their mind already – Swifty Aug 23 '18 at 16:15
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    The influence social media can have against "outgroups" is scary. Recently, researchers linked local facebook usage with the rate of violence against refugees. Communities with higher than average facebook usage, had higher rate of incidents. Community internet outage caused a reversal. Much effort and time on facebook is spent maligning "outgroups" - that is anyone you don't identify with. – Rider_X Aug 23 '18 at 16:28
  • The counterpoint is that the asker says they were travelling "at high speed" in a place where they didn't have time to react to the entirely unsurprising event of a distracted pedestrian carelessly walking into the road. Just as the public as a whole shouldn't stereotype cyclists as "the bad guy", we as cyclists shouldn't stereotype ourselves as the innocent party. – David Richerby Aug 24 '18 at 14:03
  • Definitely definitely definitely wear a camera. – ilikeprogramming Aug 24 '18 at 14:21
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    @DavidRicherby I have no interest in trying to apportion blame as I was not in attendance and I would be relying on “reading between the lines” of the testimony of one party. Instead my answer focus on why the OP may have experienced more blame from the general public than they felt was appropriate. Of course self-deception could be involved, but again I don’t think the information exists to appropriately comment. – Rider_X Aug 25 '18 at 18:16
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I dispute your claim that the collision was entirely the pedestrian's fault. Of course, the pedestrian shouldn't have stepped into the road without looking. However, you, as a road user in a busy city should have been aware that pedestrians often cross the road carelessly. You shouldn't have been travelling so fast and so close to the bus that you had no time to react if a pedestrian appeared.

Even if you don't feel you have any responsibility towards careless road users, surely this makes sense purely from the self-preservation angle. You need to consider what other users might do, not only what they will do if they obey all rules and guidelines.

Now, I wasn't there so I wont attempt to apportion blame any more precisely than "You were both at fault." But you were both at fault.


In your edit to the question, you point out that the pedestrian appeared so late that you would probably still have hit them at 1–2mph. First, if that is literally true, then you must have been riding extremely close to the buses. If you had been riding a meter away from them, you would have easily avoided the collision at walking pace. Riding very close to stationary vehicles is very dangerous: if they start moving, there's a good chance they'll move towards you; it invites other traffic to overtake, trapping you in a space barely wider than your bike; and it gives you no time to react if a pedestrian appears or a door opens. Second, if you had collided at walking pace, nothing serious would have happened but, for example, colliding at 12mph involves nine times as much energy.

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Have you noticed when people (especially road users) have confrontations in anger, they’re usually not listening to what the other person has to say? Normally each party is forcefully putting out their own point of view until the moment passes, and leave with an unchanged viewpoint. I know I’ve done it. It doesn’t achieve anything.

I suspect that if you had said more at the time, then it wouldn’t have been productive. Anyone there taking the time to point out how they felt you were at fault, wouldn’t have been taking the time to listen to your point of view anyway.

I also don’t think you are responsible for other people’s thoughts. You’re certainly responsible for how you act, how you ride and the condition of your cycle, and can reflect on how these can be optimised for your future riding, but these actions are where your responsibilities lie, rather than the perceptions of bystanders.

If I saw a situation where someone had collided and come off their bike, I would be more impressed by them calmly, quietly checking themselves and the other party for injuries, trying to resolve the situation, than I would by someone mouthing off, getting defensive and not showing compassion for the other injured person.

  • Yes - agreed - a person's character is shown more in there reaction to things then mouthing off.. Thanks for the reply.. – lara400 Aug 23 '18 at 22:44
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If there's a traffic accident, call the local police and make statements.

If nothing else, it gives you something to hang an insurance claim onto.

Cameras are great for supporting your official statements, but alone they stop nothing and they aren't seen as "evidence" on their own. Also, the whole footage could be used to show the cyclist was riding poorly beforehand. And cycling footage makes you look like you're going too fast so backing that up with strava or garmin or whatever telemetry helps show that you were doing XX km/h at that point which is under the speed limit at that location

If there's any injuries then do call an ambulance. If anyone's lost consciousness, had a hard fall, is vomiting, or can't stand then ring the local emergency service pronto. Also watch out for the onset of shock post-accident.

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    If you're over the speed limit, you're definitely going too fast. But the converse is not true: being below the speed limit is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being at an appropriate speed. – David Richerby Aug 24 '18 at 13:36
  • @DavidRicherby true - but the initial statement can be challenged. "you were speeding" , "No I wasn't - here's the proof." – Criggie Aug 25 '18 at 1:09
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    Well, technically the rebuttal to "you were speeding" in the UK is that there's no such thing because the speed limit doesn't apply to bicycles. So all that's left is "you were travelling at excessive speed", which is far too situation-dependent to be established by comparing two numbers. – David Richerby Aug 25 '18 at 7:39
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This is more a culture problem than anything else. Pedestrians seem to think that bikes are required not to exceed the speed of a fast jogger (about 15 km/h), while car drivers seem to think that bikers are simply not allowed to exist on a road. Pedestrians also generally regard bike paths as part of their sidewalk, and will get mad at any bike that happens to surprise them. To a pedestrian, who's also frequently a car driver, your very existence is an affront, irrespective of where you happen to be, road, bike lane, or bike path. In their eyes you are just not as equal as they are. This is at least what I gather from their reactions to me. They don't know the rules concerning bikes, they just assume that the rules say, bikes have no rights, whatsoever.

That said, the best thing you can do to avoid hitting pedestrians running out between parked/standing vehicles, is not to get too close to those vehicles. You are entitled to the same lateral safety distances as a car at the same speed. And you need them. So take them. (I don't know what your local laws say about minimal lateral safety distances. This is something worth finding out and learning by heart. Then you can tell anybody asking you why you are where you are.)

If you do this, you will quickly find that my remarks about car drivers mind set is true: You will get honked at. Frequently. Or shouted at. Or worse. I've had a motorist telling me into my face I didn't have any rights to safety distances at all. (Of course, that's simply not true: He has to hold a distance from me of no less than 1.5 meters in my place).

This culture problem is nothing you can fix. Just expect all other people moving around to treat you with the utmost contempt while you're on a bike, and be happy when they don't.

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You could get get a helmet cam, or similar. This will at least protect you in court if it's genuinely not your fault. This is quite common in London since there is a sort of cold war between cyclists and other road users there.

If you really want to avoid all accusation in future then take the accusations to heart, don't dismiss them, even if you think it's not your fault.

Car drivers are taught to drive at a speed consistent with what they can see.

Parked cars and busses create blind corners that are dangerous. Car drivers specifically taught to slow down past parked cars and give extra room to avoid the risk of pedestrians stepping out. It is the driver's responsibility to do this because the driver is the one operating the life threatening piece of equipment.

Now in UK cities the limit for cars is 30mph dropping to 20mph on some roads. Cyclists are capable and willing to do 20-30mph. It is therefore perfectly reasonable to give the same advice to cyclists as motorists.

When cycling past parked cars and busses I often move to the centre of the road if I can do so safely; especially if I'm doing more than 20mph. You don't need to hug the kerb. This gives so much more time to react and lets you see the pedestrians earlier. Treat parked cars and busses like the blind corners that they are. On downhill stretches (and London has some fun hills) you do need to consider slowing down where your vision is particularly bad (parked busses).

Stupid pedestrians exist. You know this. You're behaviour on the road must reflect the fact you know this or you will be blamed for the resulting accident.

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I'm afraid there's nothing you can do. Since there are much more drivers and even more pedestrians, cyclists will always be the minority and the ones to blame.

I had an accident with a car (turning right through me) two days ago - and when I described it to my friends, those of them who are not cyclists tried to blame me for that.

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    At first I'm thinking that fiend is a typo, then realise perhaps not. Either way - sorry to hear about the accident, and hope you're OK. – Criggie Aug 25 '18 at 1:10
  • @Criggie lol, no, a typo) I'm OK, just wasted a couple of hours waiting for the police – k102 Aug 27 '18 at 8:23
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You are lucky. In my country, when the accident happened, the one who has more wheel will be the one who 'guilty', even when the other person who at fault, as in your case.

Don't let other people's judgment affect you. They don't know the whole truth and only judge based on what they think they know.

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