Requiem For a Fallen Cyclist

The road is closed
The Community Officer
stands and processes
so many questions
but not the truth
because the truth
is not what they want to know

To admit to the truth
is to admit to complicity
in murder or manslaughter
for a cyclist lies dead
and the road is closed

So Death takes charge
reminding us
of his omniprescence

A single slip or mistake
a fatal eror for which
we shall be accountable

Police car blocks
The daily traffic
blue tape wavers in the wind
halting even the careful steps
of the curious pedestrian

no further, the looks say
as measures are taken
to locate that moment of death
when life ceased
and the officers
began to ponder
lost time in the cafe
after all
life is conditional on death

For today they look
at death on the beat
and it holds them
attention trapped
in a need to do the job
60yrs of experience
no weapon in a cyclist’s defence
against a large white van

Martin Addison – 06/08/2013


    1. Sadly it’s all too common an event Patti. I could have written someting like this on numerous occasions 😦 From one of the responses to the news in the Ham & High I gather that the stretch of road where it happened has seen 24 accidents involving cyclists in the last 2 years. I guess I just reached the point where I had to give my thoughts written form.

  1. I incredibly nervous when I see a cyclist on a busy street…
    I know they have just as much right to be there as anyone else… but I can’t help but be paranoid. I know if I was ever to actually witness an accident like the one you came across and described so powerfully in your poem… I don’t know… I would definitely be scared for life (even if I wasn’t involved).

    1. I sometimes wonder Bob if one of the requirements for being granted a driving license was to have passed a cycling proficiency test and spent a full year as a cyclist on the road, the number of accidents would go down. I think that too many drivers on the street have never cycled and have no idea about the capabilities and limitations of a bicycle.

  2. A touching poem Martin. As others have said they are so vulnerable. I passed a cyclist on my way home from work one day. I made sure I moved over & gave him plenty of room. There was a large truck coming up behind him when suddenly he swerved right into the middle of the road from the side in front of the truck. There was a schreech of brakes & a blast of the trucks horn. I thought the cyclist was a goner. I looked in the mirror & the cyclist was defiantly giving the truck driver the one finger salute. The cyclist purposely tried to force his right of way. We have plenty of cyclists here in launceston but among them is a arrogant “we ow the road” element. These are usually racing bike cyclists of the Lycra Brigade. I have seen many of them purposely go out of their way to taunt motorists. A dangerous game to play. In all fairness to sensible riders I’ve seen plenty of incidents where the car driver has definitely been in the wrong & the car will try to force the cyclist off the road.

    1. P.S. The local council has been putting a lot of cycle lanes on many of the roads that are regular routes for many cyclists which is a great idea. Most cyclists use them but there is still the rogue cyclist element that refuse to give up their place in the regular traffic lanes. Although the law here is that it is illegal to be in the traffic lanes if there is a cycle lane provided. I saw in the local paper once in the reader’s letters section once a letter from one such cyclist who stated that he refused to use bike lanes because “bike lanes are for women, children & men who only cycle to commute.. Bike lanes are not for serious cyclists.” The law states otherwise.

      1. Thanks Tony – I drive and cycle so I get to see both sides of the coin. I was always a commute type cyclist in the past and used to make pretty good time up the Finchley Road. Only the very best ‘club cyclists’, in what passed for lycra back then, were faster than me. I always stopped for red lights as required by the law except on one occasion when I suffered a brake failure! Cue loud warning shouts to pedestrians using the crossing! Sadly today’s ‘road warrior’ cyclists give all cyclists a bad name and provide an excuse to those motorists who like to display their inability to drive properly by carving up cyclists, other motorists and just about anything else whilst dreaming they are the best thing since Nigel Mansell. There’s good and bad both sides of the line – the main difference is that cars kill people 😦 I’ll carry on trying to drive and cycle safely and with consideration for other road users.

      2. I used to cycle to & from work until I swapped my bike for a motor scooter 3 years ago. I once was pedalling through an intersection on a green light & a lycra clad road warrior came through a red light in the other direction & nearly hit me. When I said something he gave me the finger as he continued on his way. It’s always those who do the wrong thing that protest the most when they get caught out.

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