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OPINION: Fife tragedy made me question why I ride my bike on the roads

Cycling brings Peter John Meiklem a great deal of pleasure, but it is not without its risks.
Cycling brings Peter John Meiklem a great deal of pleasure, but it is not without its risks.

It was a sunny weekend bike ride that ended in tragedy – and made me wonder if I was a fool for riding my bike on the road again.

It wasn’t my tragedy. I wouldn’t be here writing this if it was.

It was 66-year-old father and grandfather Iain Anderson who took his e-bike out for a ride on a warm summer’s day and never came home again.

This week, a jury found 80 year-old truck driver Adam Fernie guilty of dangerous driving.

They judged he caused Mr Anderson’s death after striking his electric bike from behind on quiet stretch of country road outside the hamlet of Giffordtown in Fife.

I’d cycled along the very same stretch of road about an hour before the collision happened.

Maybe that’s why I can’t get it out of my mind.

A sunny Sunday on Fife’s roads

I was on my way to Falkland to hook up with friends from Glasgow who were pedalling from the city to St Andrews.

We were old rugby team mates, coming to bikes late after decades spent smashing each other in boggy fields, and the chat was all about the new tech we’d bought and the challenges of travelling west to east, via bicycle only.

Iain Anderson died in the accident in rural Fife.

We were blethering so much we barely noticed the road signs warning us of an incident up ahead.

I’d just been through there – what could have happened in an hour?

So when we arrived at the scene of the accident, to see the air ambulance parked up in the tattie field next to the road, we were instantly shocked.

We didn’t know who it was, or exactly what had happened, but the end outcome was very clear to all three of us.

Silence, at first.

I called The Courier newsdesk and gave them the information I had. Sadly, a Fife cycling death was an all too common story that summer.

All too common a sight on country roads.

My two friends and I cycled on.

None of us really wanted to, but there was no real talk of calling time on the trip. We had a destination.

Yet, it stayed with us then and stays with us now. My friend was back in Fife last weekend and we talked it though.

Cycling road deaths leave big questions

Reading about the trial – and learning more about Mr Anderson – has also brought that day back.

I never met the father and grandfather. But my heart goes out to his family who must have found it horribly difficult.

And it leaves me – and I’m sure the many, many cyclists who have taken that same country road in Fife – wondering.

This sport, this opportunity to catch up with friends, this way of getting from A to B for work or play, is it worth it?

Adam Fernie who was found guilty of causing the death of cyclist Iain Anderson.

You go in circles, and you think about your own family, and the world out there with its potential for many other nasty surprises, and you decide – aye.

So you get back on your bike.

But you’re always wondering.

So the next time you’re in your car – and you see a cyclist up ahead, and you’re thinking about how much room you have to pass them, or whether they’re holding you up too much – have a wee wonder too.

And if we all do that, then the roads everywhere will be that little bit safer for all of us.

Truck driver, 80, guilty of killing cyclist on Fife road

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