February 26, 2014

This Bicycle Accident Could Have Been Much Worse

While out on a walk yesterday with her friend my wife witnessed a nasty bicycle accident.

Enjoying the warm sun and conversation while walking along a river-side path my wife looked into the distance and noticed a man shuffling slowly down the centre of the walkway. From behind him, at great speed, came another man on a mountain bike.

Without warning and without slowing the cyclist tried to squeeze his way between a tree and the pedestrian. As the cyclist's handlebar struck the tree and he was launched into the air my wife thought to herself "Oh no. I can't believe it, I saw this coming, how could he do such a stupid thing?"

A riverside path similar to where the accident occurred.
Photo by Karl Baron
The helmet-less cyclist landed with a loud crack after which he made no attempt to, or was unable to move. In shock my wife and her friend approached to find a man in his 70's lying on his back on the ground with the bicycle still between his legs. Being totally bald it was easy to see that he was bleeding from a nasty cut on his head. My wife's friend called an ambulance immediately while my wife applied some tissues to his head wound and began to question him about other possible injuries.

What happened next freaked my wife out. He did not seem able to move, or speak. Lying stationary where he fell, sweat beading on his forehead he seemed only able to move his eyes. They feared his injury was major and remained by his side offering what help and sympathetic words they could. They felt rather helpless.

Luckily before the ambulance arrived the cyclist regained his composure and was able to speak. Of the accident he remembered nothing he said. After some time he attempted to move but my wife and her friend encouraged him to stay where he was until the ambulance arrived, which it did after a few more minutes.

Upon their arrival the medics didn't bother to question my wife and her friend about the nature of the incident, instead, they pushed them away from the scene insisting that they could handle it from here. They went so far as to tell them to continue on their walk.

Obviously the police would attend the scene and want to question witnesses, so while the medics applied a neck brace, moved the man to a stretcher and bandaged his head my wife went to wash the blood from her hands.

When she returned police were at the scene and both my wife and her friend provided them with all the information they had about the accident. The police promptly, and correctly, concluded that the cyclist was 100% to blame for his own injuries.

While my wife was away washing her hands, her friend struck up conversation with the man who had been ambling along the centre of the pathway, the fellow the impatient cyclist tried to barge past. It turned out the reason he was walking so awkwardly was because he'd had spinal surgery late last year. He was told he would never walk again but through perseverance and willpower was back on his feet and steadily improving. Daily walks along the riverside path were part of his rehabilitation. Once the drama was over he decided to go directly home rather than risk another injury on what should have been a peaceful walk.

So, the cyclists through his impatience went to hospital with a head injury, but the outcome could have been much much worse. The pedestrian he almost hit could have easily been disabled, unable to walk, for life due to the inconsiderate actions of one old man which would have destroyed both of their lives.

Stay safe out there, and remember you're not only responsible for your own safety, but for the safety of those around you too especially when you're cycling around pedestrians as is so common here in Japan.

The human body is such a fragile thing.

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