Cycling Fatality on Mitcham Road

Yesterday morning at around 5am. A cyclist was involved in a RTC with a car on the A236 Mitcham Road. The man was pronounced dead at the scene by the air ambulance doctor. Rest In Peace!

For those of you that don’t know Croydon and Mitcham Road, it has been the talking point of many cycling campaigners. Nearly a mile of cycle lane in the door zone in either direction. Parked cars on either side of this very busy arterial road and plenty of pinch points that do absolutely nothing!

I contacted Croydon Council about this road in January. I highlighted the issue with the door zone, the debris in the cycle lane and the pinch points that do not prevent people from speeding. The response regarding Mitcham road is as follows

Most of the cycle lanes in Mitcham Road meet the recommended minimum standard width of 1.5 metres, however there is insufficient carriageway space available to increase the clearance from parked vehicles. This is why the lanes have been made highly visible with green surfacing used for the majority of the length, which should help to remind motorists that they should take care of cyclists using the route.

Some physical changes can be made as the resources become available; changing awareness and habits in respect of cyclists and motorcyclists is a longer term issue.

I did push further and got this response

I visited again this road on Monday morning with my traffic engineer and we have established two courses of actions.

Firstly as these lanes were initially implemented as part of the London Cycle Network Budget and Project, about five years ago, it is long overdue for a review. On measuring the width of the cycle lanes we found that some of the lanes could be widened. We aim to implement a review with a view to extend the cycle lane widths to give greater space for cyclists.

Secondly there is a view to create a parallel route for the Mitcham road on quiet residential roads via  Ockley rd and Rochford way and Westcombe avenue, from just beyond the Lombard roundabout for cyclists who would feel less confident in using the Mitcham road.

The green paint mentioned in the first response has all but faded and is only the width of a car door! So this cycle lane is extremely dangerous to use, especially during the early hours of the morning when people are going to work and taking their kids to school.

Door Zone on Mitcham Road

The insufficient width they talk about is down to parking that is allowed on the road. The A236 is the only arterial road I can think of in Croydon that allows residential parking like this.

Parking on the A236

I was spurred on to contact the council about this stretch of road after my own RTC in which I broke my clavicle. At the same time I also queried what was being done with the £450,500 that was given to Croydon by the Mayor after being named a Cycling Borough. Unfortunately those funds where already being spent elsewhere (a cycling hub at East Croydon station) and could not be used to drastically improve one of the worst cycle lanes in Croydon.

Are you giving up cycling?

I returned back to the office today and saw my colleagues for the first time in 6 weeks. It was great to be back to at work, 6 weeks of day time TV will send you bonkers! Everyone was asking how I was and the usual questions but one I was asked several times and stood out the most.

Are you going to give up cycling?

My answer is certainly not. It’s my passion, I’ve been cycling since I was a child, through school, into uni and now doing most of my miles on my commute to work. I want to live everyday to the max and enjoy my self. I might have been hurt this one time but I will bounce back and do many more miles.

When people tell me that cycling is dangerous. I always reply with the following

Most of the world’s population die in bed, I would rather spend as much time as possible out of bed.

And it just so happens that when out of bed I like to ride a bicycle 🙂

An update on how I’m doing as I know some of you are interested. I’m feeling a lot better, up and about more and moving my arm a little bit more freely. My physiotherapy is going well and my movements are improving, I still have limited movements in my arm and struggle to move it by its self. My clavicle is nearly fixed, I’ve got an update with an orthopaedic doctor in 2 weeks and by that time it should be nearly done.

How long till I’m back on the bike? Who knows, as soon as I can get back on the bike I will be on the turbo. I’m not going to put my self onto the road until I know I’m fully 100% fit.

The Broken Clavicle – The Road to Recovery

I’ve had my operation and I stayed in hospital for a few days after as I was in quite a bit of pain and had troubles moving.

Staying in hospital overnight has to be one of the worst experiences of my life. I was in a room with 5 other men, all of us recovering from operations. During the day it’s fine but atnight time it’s awful, just imagine 5 men snoring loudly all night long, the guy next to me sounded as if he was drowning! One of them kept calling for the nurse, who was often busy with someone else in a different room. I got very little sleep whilst I was in hospital 🙁
I was in the cadets at school and on several occasions we spent weekends at military bases and that meant sleeping in barracks with 20 other teenagers trying to play tricks on each other, I got more sleep then!

It’s been two weeks since the operation and I can safely say I’m feeling a lot better! Still in pain and discomfort but I’m moving around better.

I’ve also had two physio sessions so far, god that is agony at first! But I’m slowly getting movement back in my arm. Unfortunately due to me holding my arm in one position for two weeks due to really bad pain, my arm is really stiff and it will need a lot of work to get moving again.

How long till I’m back on the bike? Hard to say at the moment, I can see my see my self being off for at least a month, I’m not going to rush to get back on the road, any knock on it could make things worse, as soon as i can get back on the bike I will be on the turbo!

The Broken Clavicle Part III

It’s 6.15am, I’m up getting ready to go to the hospital for my operation. I was told nil by mouth from midnight, so no pain killers for me this morning!

I arrive at my designated ward at 6.50am, 10 minutes early. Sign in and take a seat, I’m on the trauma list as an emergency patient. Less than 4 of us on that list. I noted when I took my seat that there where about 6 of us in the waiting room.

As time goes by, plenty of people arrive in the waiting room, all of them looking comfortable and showing no signs of pain, unlike my self, I’m in agony. Even with painkillers sitting down had been painful! Without them breathing is painful!

We asked the nurses several times what was going on, told them the pain I was in and thatI was having troubles breathing. NOTHING happened, they didn’t care and told us nothing. Eventually we get through to someone after 2 hours and I’m seen by myanaesthetist who quickly got me some pain killers and rushed me through the process. Before that everyone else in the waiting room had been seen some time before me, several of them a few times. That isn’t exactly what you expect when you are a ‘trauma’ patient and the only one showing any sign of pain.

4 Hours later and I’m on the operating table and I don’t even remember getting an injection. I just remember coming too in recovery and shortly later being taken to a ward to recover.

So far I’ve been let down by the health service at several points. I was told in A&E that there was no way they would operate on such a break and that it was fairly simple. Instead of having the A&E Consultant doctor give a medical opinion, I would have rather had an orthopaedic doctor come and give their opinion, then I might have saved nearly 2 weeks of pain and discomfort and I wouldn’t need so much physio.
And when I was waiting for my surgery I was told to come in for 7 without taking any painkillers despite my injury and then had to wait for several hours before I was seen. Again not impressed. If I have any kind of injury like this again then I’m not sure I can go to my local NHS hospital and it crossed my mind in the waiting room on the morning of the surgery, I was very tempted to walk away and go and get booked in at a private hospital, as I doubt I would get treated in the same way! And I know I would be seen by the same doctors.

The Broken Clavicle Part II

I’m on my way home now and I have to say the pain is excruciating. This sort of injury makes you realise just how bad the roads are, the smallest bump in road surface and I’m screaming from the pain.

As soon as I get in the door I’m pouring water to take the painkillers but straight away I remember that I can’t swallow pills. Strange I know but it’s something I’ve always had a problem with. Luckily I’m able to chew the pill form of cocodimol that I was prescribed and I picked up some soluble tablets in the next few days.

The plan was to go on holiday at the end of the week but over the next few days I was un-able to do normal tasks. Even getting in and out of a chair was difficult and extremely painful let alone getting in and out of bed, which was not something I could do by my self.
So I had to cancel my family holiday because there was no way I could travel, even sitting in a chair was uncomfortable.

My initial appointment for the fracture clinic was 12 days after it happened, the usual time for the first appointment is within the first 7 days, so mine is nearly 2 weeks out.
I tried to rearrange my appointment but unfortunately that was just not possible.

From what I was told it was a simple fracture and it should heal fairly easily but over the 12 days leading to my check up appointment the pain and discomfort was not getting better. I was limited to sitting in a chair and watching the television, even then in pain and discomfort. This was quite depressing, I’m an active person, I like to be out and about doing things, spending time on my computer and playing video games with friends. None of those things where possible with a painful shoulder and not being able to move my arm without pain.

The 12 days passed slowly and painfully. But I’m now waiting in the fracture clinic. I’m called in to see the doctor and on his monitor is my x-ray, the first time I’ve seen it. He tells me what we can see, it’s a double break, my clavicle is in 3 pieces.
He takes a look at my how it’s healing and it’s clear something is wrong, my clavicle is still pushing up on the skin and making a sizeable lump.
He says I need an operation to fix it (it should have been operated on the day it happened), it will involve repositioning the bones, inserting a plate and screwing it all in place. So he opens his diary on the computer, and says he can’t fit me in today but will do it tomorrow!

The shock hit me pretty hard, I wasn’t expecting that, especially after being told that I won’t need an operation when I was in A&E. It will be my first operation and something I’m not really prepared for mentally.