SMIDSY = Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You.
This is a phrase, which once uttered is bound to raise the heckles of many cyclists, because it’s the phrase most likely to be delivered by an apologetic motorists who has just: pulled out in front of you; cut you up; clipped or buzzed you; or run you over. Now I don’t have much time for people who try and run with this line, but that’s because I’m usually running a headlight that is more powerful than those on my car, have at least two rear lights, have a bag that is a good advert for 3M reflective materials on my back and a jacket with reflective piping too. Even when it’s not dark I’m most often found biking about in my favourite bright orange Arcteryx jacket*. If you can’t see me you clearly didn’t look or your blind.
Now here’s the rub. I think that if you’re riding a bike at night, with no lights or reflectors and are wearing all black then you clearly have a death wish or no common sense. You are going to be invisible to me and any other person in a vehicle in these conditions. No lights and wearing black is an accident waiting to happen. I often see riders like this and usually greet them with a cheery ‘get some lights dickhead’. After much thought I have decided that I would be able to rationalise any guilt for killing a rider over the age of 18** who is riding like this. Not only will it likely be the case that I really did not see them, but they really should know better.
So when you’re lying there with your life blood trickling into the nearest gutter next to a bike flattened by 2 tons of gas-guzzling automotive glory, you may well feel that black was, perhaps not the most fasihonable colour to be seen dead wearing and that really having some lights wouldn’t have been such a bad thing. As a rider I can say with confidence that we’ve probably all run the gauntlet at some point, but I don’t feel big or clever for doing it. Ultimately the truth is that if you play this game and fall foul of lady luck then SMIDSY may quite literally be falling on dead ears and be quite justifiable.
* I once went through the windscreen of a car wearing the yellow and blue day glow colours of the Withington Wheelers. After that I decided that if you could still get run over wearing such a hideous offending-to-the-eyes club kit, you were probably better off not wearing it.
** The battle with my conscience would be a tricky one when it comes to underage riders. Why did they have no lights? What were they doing out on the roads at night rather than being tucked up in bed? Who took all the reflectors off their bike? And why weren’t they riding on the pavement like most of the yoof?