When riding motorcycles there is always a risk, you are a vulnerable road user. Whether or not you are a hardened experienced biker that has been riding for years, or you have just done your CBT, the risk is still there due to other road users. Unfortunately, on the 21st of June 2018 when commuting on the A58 to my new job in Leeds an SUV pulled out of a side road and hit me side on.
I had just got the type of job that I had been working for, for the last 14 years. I didn’t mind the 18-mile commute on the bike from Halifax to Leeds city centre. I had just got used to the route I was taking to get there in the morning and it was only the start of my fourth day. It was a clear morning and I was making good time, so wasn’t rushing and I was enjoying the ride. I was on the A58 heading to Leeds just going through the village of Wyke doing approximately 32 mph. As a biker, I am very aware of my speed which I’m sure most bikers will agree with. I had seen the orange SUV type car stationary in the side road less than 10 meters to the left of me as I approached when it started to pull out.
The stopping distance of a motorcycle travelling at 30mph, according to the British high way code, is 23 Meters and that is 9 meters for thinking and 14 meters for breaking. When the car pulled out of the junction I was maybe 10 meters away, maybe a little less. In this type of situation on a motorcycle you have two options, break or swerve but you cannot do both. I could not swerve behind the car due to the curb, I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to break in time and that would have resulted in me going through the side of the car and probably only ending one way. So I swerved to the right onto the other side of the road, hoping the driver would see me in time. They didn’t, in fact, they must have thought the way was clear as they sped up to get into the lane.
At this point, my brain went into panic mode as I remember the impact as kind of still slides. I remember the car being inches away and then plastic and metal hitting me in the face, thank god for good quality helmets! I then remember a couple of rolls down the road and then coming to a stop. Having broken a couple of bones in the past I know that you don’t really feel anything, you just lay there knowing something is very wrong. This time was very different, my left leg felt like it was on fire. I picked my leg up and saw it flop around like it was made of jelly and then the blood began to pour out of my ripped Kevlar jeans and boot. I laid my leg down on the road clutching it in panic as the pool of blood grew around me.
I had a Sena Bluetooth headset on my helmet that was linked to my phone playing music at the time. As I looked up through my visor at the people that were towering over me I could not hear a thing but the music. I scrambled about trying to find it so I could turn it off but it had smashed off the side of the helmet. The song was De La Soul’s Must B The Music.
Once I had stopped the music I had two people looking over me a man and a woman. The man, called Matt had hold of my hand asking if I was ok. The woman, called Gemma, was telling me it was ok and was not as bad as I thought but she kept having to run back to her car to check that her child was ok. I was shouting and screaming about the pain in my leg which I was trying my hardest not to look at. First aid kits had suddenly appeared around me which I was amazed that so many people had in their cars and will now always be an addition to mine. There was now another woman putting pressure on my leg as Matt and Gemma kept reassuring me everything would be fine.
The paramedics then arrived who were fantastic, there was Zoe the driver and Alex who would be taking care of me. They started by checking me over and then very carefully trying to remove my helmet. They then started to cut off my backpack to make me more comfortable and continued to cut off my boot, jacket etc. I was on the usual gas and air face mask but also a drip in my right arm which Matt was holding. I remember looking up at Matt who was dressed in a very nice suit and someone asked if his arm was hurting from holding up the drip, he replied with “I feel bad complaining about my arm really”
I had a few people ask me if I was riding a motorbike or not which I found strange, so I asked the paramedics about my bike and they said they can’t see a one. I later found out what had happened to it and I’m quite glad I didn’t know at the time. What had happened was when the car had pulled out I sped up to try and get around the front of the car, during the impact I got tangled in the bodywork which pulled me from the bike. With the increase in speed and the impact, the bike was fired off the road where it hit a small wall which it flipped over. On the other side of the wall was a large drop, through trees and into a field.
The woman who had hit me was obviously shaken, I hadn’t seen her, and she didn’t come over to check on me, which was probably a good thing. Apparently, she was taken into someone’s house so she could calm down. I remember seeing the police at the front door, obviously getting her side of the story. At the time I was obviously very angry that she was not looking, although these thoughts do no one any good and at the end of the day, these things happen. Although they shouldn’t, the amount of effort that has gone in over the years to make people aware of bikes and people still don’t look, look and look again.
I will reiterate though, that I am not angry or bitter towards the driver. It didn’t need to happen, and it shouldn’t have happened, but it did and it’s just another challenge that I’m having to overcome.
It was a long drive to the hospital in the ambulance as it was during rush hour. I’m not sure how long I was on the road for, but I think it was a lot longer than I thought it was. I would like to say again how thankful I am to the paramedics Alex and Zoe for how good they were and how comfortable and safe they made me feel given what had happened and how bad they obviously knew it was.
End of Part One……..
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