All cyclists have heard the “sorry mate, I didn’t see you” excuse from a driver after a near miss or collision with a vehicle, but a 68-year-old farmer from Oklahoma has elevated it to new levels after failing to spot a two-tonne elephant on the road ahead of him.
Bill Carpenter was returning from church with his wife in their SUV when he belatedly registered the presence of the eight-foot-tall elephant on the road ahead, forcing him to swerve to avoid a head-on collision.
The female Indian elephant, which had escaped from a nearby circus, suffered a broken tusk and an injured leg in the incident, and received veterinary attention once handlers from the circus had been able to calm it down.
Carpenter claims that “the elephant blended in with the road,” something that sounds like it comes straight out of the Sir Alex Ferguson Bumper Book of Excuses – football fans may remember the Manchester United manager getting his side to change shirts at half-time in a match against Southampton a few years back, claiming that the grey away kit made it impossible for his players to pick each other out.
More seriously, the incident does highlight the issue of drivers needing to be aware of what is going on around them on the road, raised by cyclists’ organization CTC last month when it launched its ‘Stop SMIDSY’ campaign, which urges cyclists to report incidents of bad driving.
It is not yet known what SMIDSY the Lion, the campaign's mascot recently interviewed by road.cc, makes of this latest incident.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.