Stagecoach broke my shoulders
On the 26 October 2012, at around 19:50, I was cycling home when a stagecoach bus, driven by Andrew Mitchell, overtook me dangerously. The rear of the bus clipped me, knocking me off my bike. Due to the speed at which I hit the tarmac, both my shoulders were broken (proximal humeral fractures). My right fracture was stable, but the left was very displaced and required several hours of surgery.
At that time I did not cycle with a helmet-cam, but I do have CCTV stills from the bus, which captures a snapshot from each camera every second. Useful images come from:
- Camera 1: Pointing out the front of the bus, underneath the driver
- Camera 3: Above the driver, to the left, pointing out of the door.
- Camera 7: On the outside of the bus, on the back left, pointing forward.
Below is what happened, illustrated with the CCTV captures. You can also look through all the images from those cameras here.
Camera 1 at 19:52:14
First encounter with the bus occurred on Queensferry Street, at the junction with Melville Place. Another (slightly faster) cyclist and I were waiting at the Advanced Stop line for the lights to change.
I am the cyclist on the right, with the red reflective-striped rucksack.
Camera 1 at 19:52:15
The lights changed to green.
Camera 1 at 19:52:17
We accelerated downhill to Dean Bridge.
Camera 1 at 19:52:20
Camera 1 at 19:52:40
Camera 1 at 19:52:55
Camera 1 at 19:53:02
As Queensferry Road exits Dean Bridge (Westward), the road widens from the left. I took this opportunity to move to the Primary Road Position by continuing straight on.
Camera 1 at 19:53:03
The Primary Road Position (aka “taking the lane”) is appropriate here for two reasons:
- The upcoming island for the pedestrian crossing narrows the road, so that there an overtaking vehicle (particularly a bus) cannot give enough room. In any case it would be illegal to overtake at that point.
- I intended to move into the right-hand turn lane about 5 seconds after exiting the pedestrian crossing.
Camera 1 at 19:53:04
Camera 1 at 19:53:05
Camera 1 at 19:53:06
At a reported speed of about 25mph, the bus doesn’t get that much closer. I’m forcing the bus to go 5mph below the speed limit - a reasonable speed for that section of road approaching a bend.
Camera 1 at 19:53:07
Camera 1 at 19:53:08
Camera 1 at 19:53:09
The camera angle from directly beneath the driver gives the impression that I was a little further to the left than I am. I was about 2m from the kerb.
Camera 1 at 19:53:10
Mitchell started the overtake.
Camera 3 at 19:53:10
Mitchell also decided to give me a toot of the horn at this point to protest me delaying the Stagecoach bus, for up to a few seconds. Throughout the entire recorded journey, camera 3 shows that Mitchell steered the bus entirely with his right hand.
To sound the horn, he took his right hand off the wheel: he was steering the bus with no hands, at the start of a dangerous manoeuvre.
The CCTV images are not great quality - here it is traced and annotated.
Camera 1 at 19:53:11
There’s a few things to note:
- I was cycling over the “S” in the “BUS” lettering painted on the road. I have since measured this to be 2m out from the kerb. The lane is 4.5m wide here.
- The other cyclist was about 1 bus length ahead. This gave Mitchell no room to overtake me, then pull in behind the other cyclist.
- Note the sharp left bend only about 100m ahead.
- Also note how the lane narrows from the right, towards the entrance to the right turn lane. I have measured it to be 2.95m wide at that point.
Camera 7 at 19:53:11
Camera 7 (slightly out of sync with 1) shows how far I am out in to the road. I begin to signal, to indicate what a bad idea it is to overtake me.
Camera 1 at 19:53:12
Mitchell is using the chevrons to overtake. According to Highway Code rule 130 “If the area is bordered by a broken white line, you should not enter the area unless it is necessary and you can see that it is safe to do so.”
Camera 7 at 19:53:12
Given the corner, my road position, the distance to the other cyclist, and the approaching right turn lane, it was certainly not safe. As I was cycling that downhill stretch at between 22 to 25 mph, seconds away from a right turn lane, it was not necessary.
Camera 7 at 19:53:13
Camera 7 at 19:53:14
Unable to move to the right turn lane, I held my position (about 2m from the kerb) as the lane closed in from the right.
Camera 1 at 19:53:15
Mitchell entered the right turn lane, but he wasn’t going to turn right.
Camera 7 at 19:53:15
Instead the rear of the bus swung towards me, as we entered the corner.
Camera 7 at 19:53:16
Camera 7 at 19:53:17
At this point the rear of the bus had already forced me off my bike. I would have been rolling in the road, having broken my shoulders on impact with the tarmac.
Camera 1 at 19:53:53
About 300 metres later, the bus was stopped by the lights at the Orchard Brae junction.
It ttook 1 minute and 39 seconds for the bus to get from those lights on Queensferry Street to these lights. If Mitchell hadn’t overtaken me then the bus would have been in exactly this place at this time.