Speeding motorist Toma Delgado has dropped his ‘fix my car’ case against the family of the cyclist he killed while travelling at 100mph in his Audi.
The Associated Press passes on Spanish National Radio reports that Delgado’s lawyer announced that his client dropped the case because of “media pressure.”
The story was headline news in Spain - and has gone around the world, too - leading to Delgado becoming a national hate figure. The Spanish media, and TV chat shows, have debated Delgado’s damages case at great length.
Feelings against Delgado have been running high, with hundreds of protesters gathering outside a court-room in Haro in northern Spain.
Delgado had been driving about 100 mph - or, in some media reports, 70mph (an mph and kph mix-up?) - when he hit the 17-year old cyclist in 2004.
Soon after the crash, a regional court exhonerated Delgado after finding both parties at fault, recording that the cyclist - riding to a camp site just after the sun had set - was not wearing reflective clothing or a helmet. A polystyrene cycle helmet is designed for crashes to a kerb from one metre at speeds of 12mph or less.
Spilling when riding fast in a tight-knit group is an accepted risk of road cycling, for both amateurs and professionals. Few would think to litigate following a bunch pile-up.
But, following a bunch crash in West Lothian, a 47-year old roadie is suing a 50-year old roadie for causing the crash. According to the litigator, the crash was caused by one of the riders not holding on sufficiently tightly to handlebars when hitting a manhole cover.
“The accident was preventable if the proper riding position and proper hand position was being adopted,” college lecturer John Telfer told a jury at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Andrew Hajducki QC, for the 50-year old rider, posited that chain gang riders voluntarily took on a risk of accidents and injuries by choosing to ride without sufficient stopping distance between them.
Telfer agreed: “There is an element of risk, yes. That is something you put down to being a minimum risk given the nature of the group you choose to ride with and the experience of everybody concerned.
“If I thought I was in any way to blame for the accident, I would not be standing here today. I think I am a victim or casualty of someone’s neglect.”
Cycling teachers have responded by saying there’s simply no room for cycling on a packed programme of must-do topics.
And the UK Government is in no hurry to put cycling in front of kids although a Parliamentary answer given yesterday sounds promising.
Stephen Hesford, PPS to Vera Baird QC, the Solicitor General, asked:
“What steps have been taken to make the teaching of climate change and its implications for the future part of the curriculum; and if his Department will consider combining physical education with green activities, such as planting trees.”
Kevin Brennan, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, replied:
“Under both the current national curriculum in England for science and the new science curriculum to be taught in schools from September 2008, pupils aged 11-14 are taught about renewable energy and the possible impact of human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels, on the environment. The current geography curriculum for 11 to 14-year-olds requires pupils to be taught about resource planning and management issues, for example developing alternative energy sources. From September 2008, “environmental interaction and sustainable development” will be one of the key concepts in the new geography curriculum for 11 to 14-year-olds with a requirement to study climate change.
Getting young people involved in activities such as cycling is also of great value in promoting habits that are both environmentally friendly promoting personal health and wellbeing.”
That’s sort of good, but it’s still a long way from actually placing cycling on the curriculum.
At the trade-only Core bike show, held in Northamptonshire earlier this week, Chris Hewings, European sales director of the American Bicycle Group, let slip that Litespeed was making the legs for the latest NASA Mars lander.
“There aren’t many companies that can work with such thin titanium tubes,” said Hewings.
Litespeed, now owned by ABG, was born in the early 1990s, growing out of Southeast Machine, a ti-specialist which made underground tanks for liquid gun powder for US government agencies.
NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, launched on 4th August last year and will land in the far north of Mars on 25th May.
It will use a robotic digging arm and other instruments during a three-month period to investigate whether icy soil of the Martian arctic could have ever been a favorable environment for microbial life. The solar-powered lander will also look for clues about the history of the water in the ice and will monitor weather as northern Mars’ summer progresses toward fall.
It will then go on a Grand Tour of Mars, notching up PB’s and palmares as it goes.
Funny, but there’s not one mention of cycling in the Guardian’s recent leg waxing article for men.
However, those male cyclists who want their quad and calf muscles to look their best can rest assured that their desire for depilatorial perfection is now almost normal.
According to The Guardian, more and more men are wandering into salons for wax treatments.
Full on Brazilian waxes - a bikini-line wax with knobs on - are not yet popular with men (why ever not?) but clean legs are definitely in, says The Guardian.
“Most of my clients are men…They come from every walk of life and profession - accountants, stockbrokers, teachers, boxers, models - but I’ve noticed that a lot of my clients are in the building trade…A year ago I was doing three men a week. Now I am doing three men a day. I don’t know why it has suddenly become more popular, but when people come in they do mention David Beckham. Now that celebrities like him are open about waxing, it makes other men feel more comfortable about it.” Kim Lawless, Brazilia Waxing Studio in Upminster, east London
RANDOM CYCLIST LEG WAXING VID (warning: includes grown man cussing, he should have sugared, instead):
Pix: Taken at the Cape Argus Pick N’ Pay Expo in South Africa.
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“I was grateful for your invitation but though I do, in fact, cycle and have loved cycling all of my life, I am not a great one for going out in groups and see the bicycle more as a means of getting from A to B.
However, it was very kind of you to invite me on a ride and - who knows? - perhaps one of these days I might be able to join you.”
It’s jarring to think this is the same person who could write: “A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists.”
Parris later apologised for his comments, a measure that mollified the Press Complaints Commission, which took no action against the columnist despite 550 complaints. To put this number of complaints into perspective, the most complained about article of 2007 had 480 complaints.
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Two disturbing reports about killed cyclists have recently appeared in the world press. An American woman was jailed for ten and half years after laughing about killing a “tree-hugger”; and in Spain a motorist who wiped out a young cyclist is reported to be suing the boy’s family for damages to his Audi A8.
Melissa Arrington was convicted of negligent homicide after killing Frenchman Paul L’Ecuyer in December 2006. She was found to be twice over the allowed blood alcohol level.
The CNN video plays a prison tape of Arrington, laughing at a friend’s joke about the dead cyclist.
The male friend told Arrington that an acquaintance believed she should get a medal and a parade because she had “taken out” a “tree hugger, a bicyclist, a Frenchman and a gay guy all in one shot.”
She laughed and when the man said he knew it was a terrible thing to say, she laughed, “No, it’s not.”
In August 2004 businessman Tomas Delgado killed 17-year old cyclist Enaitz Iriondo in a 100mph smash near Haro in northern Spain. Amazingly, despite the excessive speed of Delgado, the killer and the victim were found to be equally at fault for the smash. An Interior Ministry traffic report said Iriondo contributed to his death by not wearing reflective clothing or a helmet. Like either would have saved him.
Delgado’s insurance company paid Iriondo’s parents $48,500 in compensation for their son’s life but the motorist later filed a suit to recover $29,400 in damages to his car and car rental costs.
“It’s the only way I have to claim my money back,” Delgado was quoted as saying on Friday by the newspaper El Pais, which said a ruling was expected next week.
The video below - the audio is in Spanish - shows Iriondo’s mangled bike, a diagrammatic reconstruction of the crash, and the crumpled state of Delgado’s car:
As expected, the Press Complaints Commission has cleared Matthew Parris for his pre-Christmas comments in The Times about wishing the decapitation of cyclists should become a festive custom.
The PCC’s admin manager Patrick Evenden said: “While it acknowledged the deep concerns that many readers had about the piece, the Commission’s decision was that there was no breach of the Code…Although the Commission has come to this view, we will be writing to the editor of the Times to let him know the scale of complaints we received about Mr Parris’ column.”
The third Clause of the Code identified by a number of complaints was Clause 12 (Discrimination). Here too, however, there could be no breach. Clause 12 lists a number of things that the press must not refer to pejoratively when talking about an individual: race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability. Preferred method of transport is not included in the list.”
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Yesterday’s news that Cycling England is to be given a massive funding hike is welcome. But per capita, England is still spending just minuscule amounts on such an environmentally-friendly, fat-busting form of transport.
The so-called ‘cash windfall’ will not materialise overnight. Cycling England currently gets £10m a year from the Department for Transport. Next this is doubled but the bigger cash handouts don’t come until years two and three, when Cycling England will get £60m a year.