Are SPDs deadly?

Fallen cyclist’s father thinks so…

road.image.-groupTextImage-Single-image.dashMost of us who use them have the scars (both mental and physical) from our time learning to ride clipless pedals.  While the clip-in shoes and mating pedals are arguably more predictable than the flats-with-toeclips that they displaced, their twist-to-release action can require some practice before becoming reflexive.  Sadly, one of our number never made it beyond the learning phase.

The 42-year-old… lost his balance and was unable to release himself from the cleated pedals before he fell to the side and under the passing van.

As reported by The Stoke Sentinel and shared by forum member jekkyl, Neil Blood of Endon was on holiday in Jersey this past July when he lost his balance and was unable to unclip before being run over by a passing van.  New to clipless pedals, Blood had only purchased his bicycle a week prior to the trip.  While he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, his death is said to be the result of chest rather than head injuries.  Neither drugs nor alcohol are thought to be factors.

Beyond the obvious loss of a cyclist, husband, and father, the unfortunate part of The Sentinel’s coverage is their reliance on statements from his own father, who had warned his son against using the pedals before their trip.  As presented, the senior Blood places blame squarely on the Shimano pedals- and little to the rider’s inexperience with those pedals.

“What happens with those cleats is you can’t pull your foot in and out… Your brain becomes a bit scrambled and to get your foot out of cleats you have got to think clearly.”

A sad story, this should serve as a reminder that cycling can be a dangerous activity, but then so is getting out of bed.  Whenever familiarising oneself with new equipment, that should be done in a relatively low-risk environment.  While the twenty year-old memory of the sensation of being unable to unclip is easy to summon, my own scars are faint thanks to fellow riders’ recommendation that I learn the technique in a nearby grassy park.

The resulting inquest cleared the van driver of responsibility, as s/he “could not have done anything to prevent the accident.”

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