Monday, 8 February 2010
As a keen and interested cyclist, I subscribe to Google news alerts on all things bike. That means every day I get the latest news on bikes and cycling from around the world in my inbox.
A clear and disturbing pattern has emerged since I started subscribing to these alerts. Nearly every day, at least one story will be devoted to an accident which has resulted in the death or serious injury of a cyclist.
It seems to me that any accident, anywhere in the world, that involves a cyclist becomes newsworthy. I find this a worrying phenomenon. This is not to say the death of a cyclist is not a tragic event and that human lives are not affected. But the death of anyone is a tragic event that affects human lives.
Can you imagine if every car accident that resulted in injury or death was reported? Or every death as a result of heart disease or cancer? As sad as these events undoubtedly are, they are hardly front-page news in a modern world. So why is just about every death of a cyclist reported in such great detail?
Anyone reading any kind of news about cycling is going to assume death is endemic, such is the way it is reported. In fact deaths as a result of cycling accidents are very rare. But you wouldn't think that if you paid attention to the news. No wonder cycling has a reputation for being 'dangerous'.
Every now and again I pass a ghost bike - a bicycle that has been painted white and placed at the scene of an accident where a cyclist lost his or her life. These poignant tributes serve as a reminder to be careful when on the roads, but I do not feel we need the fear of death rammed down our throats by every cyclist's death being reported, making cycling feel like a far higher-risk activity than it actually is.