Monday 23 May 2016

Please, don't discuss my death with me

As someone that identifies as a cyclist and more often than not is in situation where I introduce myself as a cyclist the decision by those I meet to turn the conversation towards death is never far away. It can come from just about anyone, it's not usually as faux pas as shouting "YOU ARE GOING TO DIE!!!" and often is very socially accepted and sometimes even expected.

With another rider down comes a wave of "glad you aren't dead, I worry you will die in a horrific way like that one day" or "don't you worry sometimes that could be you?" or any other number of ways to get onto the subject. At times I'm guilty of it too, it's become that ingrained and normalised of a discussion to have around cyclists I can't even stop myself as much as I wish I would. But then if I know someone who goes base jumping or free climbing which logically seem more dangerous we just never talk about it in the same way. It's also both my death and not my death, it's hardly ever specified who dies but the description will be one size fits all so you can try and shrug it off or accept it's as much you as them.

Statistically the chances are if I'm involved in a crash it will be that I'm hit from behind. I can almost entirely reduce the risk of other types of crash. I can even lessen the chances I'm hit from behind by positioning myself correctly but for the overwhelming majority it's in the hands of the driver behind.

I'd also like to say that for many the attitude towards driving is wrong. Some cling to the word "accident" when really most are having crashes as a result of years of taking chances. If you drive in London daily and are a driver making close passes on cyclists a couple a of times a day is easily 500 in a year and it just takes 1 misjudgement to result in a crash. Other things like dodgy parking around schools and speeding past them again done by many a couple of times a day each day for years resulting one day in a crash or contributing too a crash.

It brings me on to the discussion of what are you going to do about it? That really is the only context that I want my death discussed in, one where we are acknowledging a risk and working together to change it.

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