Petronella Wyatt: Just how many times has her mother been run over by cyclists?

Recent article suspiciously similar to two-year-old piece is backed up by some dodgy figures...

by Sarah Barth   September 10, 2012  

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Just how many times has Petronella Wyatt's mother been knocked over by rogue cyclists? It's the question that's been on the lips of readers since Sunday, when the Daily Mail writer published a column calling for all cyclists to have licences.

Eagle eyed Mail reader Carlton Reid spotted a distinct similarity with a story she wrote for that paper in 2010; compare and contrast:

On August 16, my mother was hit by a Lycra lout. She was crossing the road when a youth on a bicycle shot a red light, knocked her to the ground and left her with a broken arm.

Yesterday, a friend telephoned to ask about her health. 'She would be feeling better,' I replied, 'if she hadn't been hit by another bicycle the other evening.'

I could hear a convulsion in his voice. It sounded like stifled laughter. He could not repress a gurgling sound before he managed to compose himself to express sympathy and shock. 'Again? How awful!'

But it isn't amusing. My mother is elderly. She was shopping in London's Regent Street when she was hit by the first cyclist, who failed to stop. He didn't even look back.

Kindly passers-by dragged her seemingly inert body on to the pavement and called an ambulance.

The hospital said she was lucky to have survived. As it is, the bones in her right arm are so badly broken they will never heal properly.

Then three days ago, just as she was regaining some strength, she crossed a street near her home in North London to buy bread. Once again, a hit-and-run cyclist struck.

Daily Mail, 8 Sept 2012

with the earlier piece:

Last week I met a friend for coffee. 'How is your mother?' she asked. I stared into my latte. 'Um, she had a serious accident. Her arm is broken.' 'Oh, no. What on earth happened?' 'She was run down by a bicycle.'

The inevitable convulsion took place in the nerves of my friend's face. She looked as if she was going to laugh. She could not suppress a gurgling sound before she managed to compose her features into the correct position of commiseration and shock, and say: 'How awful!'

But once you stop laughing, it isn't really funny at all. My mother is elderly and frail. She lives in North London, and was crossing the road after dark when she was hit by a cyclist who did not have his lights on.

Daily Mail, 19 Feb, 2010

The three incidents mentioned  - in 2010 late at night in North London she fell on her back and hit her head, and then while shopping this year in Regent Street she suffered a broken arm, and then later in the same month, she was hit again and fell on her head once more - add up to some serious bad luck.

Such bad luck, that it has led some people to question the veracity of what she was saying and at least one member of the public to complain to the PCC (see our comments section below).

We'd never make light of any type of road traffic collision here at Road.cc, but are left scratching our heads at the fact Ms Wyatt did not think to refer to the earlier incident in her second piece - given that it would have only backed up her case.

Wyatt's anecdotes about her own cycling don't suggest a woman who is entirely confident on two wheels:

"As I wobbled along London's roads, nearly hitting every pedestrian and car in sight, I was petrified and  hysterical, screaming every shrewish curse I knew.

"After three days, disgusted with myself and unwilling to commit manslaughter, I rode on to the kerb – deliberately – and fell down. I then hailed a taxi and put my bike inside. I have never cycled since."

She's also less than kind about a prominent cyclist, her ex-lover Boris Johnson:

"Bicyclists on the other hand, are heroes of the highways. To many of us, moreover, there is something intrinsically endearing, sometimes even comical, about bicycles. Is it because they conjure up pictures of Edwardians in silly pantaloons, old maids cycling to church and irrepressible London Mayor Boris Johnson, perched on the saddle like a baked potato with cheddar on top?"

The Evening Standard has taken up the story too now, under the headline 'All cyclists should have a licence', says Petronella Wyatt as her mother is injured twice in a month.

The article includes a statistic that we're certainly not sure about. "The Transport Research Laboratory, in conjunction with the police, has established that half of all collisions between bikes and cars are the fault of the cyclist," she writes.

Carlton Reid, of BikeBiz, wrote of this statistic:

"The 64-page TRL study reports that police blamed adult cyclists for, at most, 25 percent of collisions where cyclists were injured. Motorists were to blame for up to 75 percent of all injury incidents involving adult cyclists."

The Guardian, in its analysis of the 2009 report wrote:

"The 64-page analysis found that police attributed responsibility for collisions more or less evenly between drivers and cyclists overall, but this was skewed by the fact that when child riders were involved their behaviour was named as a primary factor more than three-quarters of the time.

With adult cyclists, police found the driver solely responsible in about 60%-75% of all cases, and riders solely at fault 17%-25% of the time."

So while we've not enough evidence at present to suggest that Petronella Wyatt's mother, Veronica Banszky Von Ambroz, definitely hasn't been hit by cyclists three times in two years and we would certainly wish her a full and speedy recovery, we would definitely accuse Ms Wyatt of some very selective use of facts and figures.

28 user comments

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Muppet...

If that ride is important to you, you'll find a way to get it in!

road slapper's picture

posted by road slapper [92 posts]
10th September 2012 - 15:53

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As you say it is not good to make light of a road traffic accident. However, she does seem to have a serious hatred for cyclists in general.

If this had happened to my mother, I would be requesting help from the public to try and identify the culprit so he/she can be brought to justice.

Was her mother crossing the road at a proper - well lit - crossing? And did she actually look before crossing? I've known car drivers to ignore crossings completely narrowly missing pedestrians.

Perhaps pedestrians should have a license to allow them to cross the road.

Marky

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posted by Marky Legs [107 posts]
10th September 2012 - 15:56

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I submitted a complaint to the PCC, on grounds of a false, inaccurate or misleading article. I wasn't alleging that it was false - can't prove that - but that the veracity of the stroy ought to be tested, and in any case there are inaccuracies or misleads in it.

Unless of course Petsy really does have "friends" who she imagines would laugh at her mother's misfortune.

posted by Paul M [308 posts]
10th September 2012 - 15:59

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Typical Daily Mail bullshit.

Maybe someone should suggest to her that her mother look at what traffic is coming before stepping out into the road, in future.

Not condoning any kind of hit-and-run incident, but the majority of these types of accidents could easily be avoided if people didn't step out into the road without looking.

The Good Shepherd's picture

posted by The Good Shepherd [54 posts]
10th September 2012 - 16:04

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I think I may have met her mum, or someone like her. Riding through a village at the weekend an old lady step out into the road after first looking left and not looking right.. thankfully for her (and me) I thought she was going to do just as she did.

jaunty angle: bikes and communications
http://ragtag.wordpress.com

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posted by ragtag [154 posts]
10th September 2012 - 16:16

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All pedestrians should be required by law to wear helmets.

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [246 posts]
10th September 2012 - 16:23

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More hatred, lies and distortion from the Daily Hate? Now there's a surprise. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story seems to be the motto with Ms Wyatt.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2188 posts]
10th September 2012 - 17:03

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Sounds like the Mail may have been short of a comment piece and so recycled most of an old one with a few new parts.

I think I'll fill out the PCC form tonight as well. Lets see if the story stands up to a little more investigation.

posted by thereverent [298 posts]
10th September 2012 - 17:08

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Hang on.

"The 64-page TRL study reports that police blamed adult cyclists for, at most, 25 percent of collisions where cyclists were injured. Motorists were to blame for up to 75 percent of all injury incidents involving adult cyclists."

That doesn't add up. "At most 25%" plus "up to 75%" *could* add up to 100%, but only if "at most" and "up to" both mean "exactly" -- and if they did then those phrases wouldn't be in there woolying up the figures. And even they did, then you'd logically infer that either in no incident were both parties to blame, or that in up to 25% of incidents there was somehow no-one to blame.

Oh, and: Unsubstantiated and/or wildly-opinionated editorial bile? What were you expecting from the Mail and the Standard?

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posted by Bez [371 posts]
10th September 2012 - 17:57

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did the PCC thing yesterday, IF the lady was indeed hit by a cyclist then i would hope that the police would investigate.

However i don't believe it ever happened and this is nothing more than incitement.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1070 posts]
10th September 2012 - 18:02

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Ex-lover of Boris Johnson. Writes for the Daily Mail. Goes by the name of Petronella.

Don't you think she's suffered enough?

posted by Mat Brett [1862 posts]
10th September 2012 - 18:18

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Bez wrote:
Hang on.

"The 64-page TRL study reports that police blamed adult cyclists for, at most, 25 percent of collisions where cyclists were injured. Motorists were to blame for up to 75 percent of all injury incidents involving adult cyclists."

That doesn't add up. "At most 25%" plus "up to 75%" *could* add up to 100%, but only if "at most" and "up to" both mean "exactly" -- and if they did then those phrases wouldn't be in there woolying up the figures. And even they did, then you'd logically infer that either in no incident were both parties to blame, or that in up to 25% of incidents there was somehow no-one to blame.

The gap is filled by incidents in which both parties may be considered to carry some blame.

Stewie

posted by stewieatb [298 posts]
10th September 2012 - 18:18

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Love the way she describes the 'convulsions' of amusement each time as well. Will be very interesting to see if these incidents did indeed occur. But then, if she says that yes they did, but no the Police weren't called, then short of interrogating the old dear or checking confidential medical records, you can't really argue (can you?).

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3097 posts]
10th September 2012 - 18:20

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apart from the usual comments that have already been made about DM quality, a red light in london is bound to be covered by cctv from somewhere and if an ambulance was called the police would likely have been notified as well etc.

posted by thehood [23 posts]
10th September 2012 - 18:34

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thehood wrote:
apart from the usual comments that have already been made about DM quality, a red light in london is bound to be covered by cctv from somewhere and if an ambulance was called the police would likely have been notified as well etc.

Was thinking about this, if it happened then the cyclist is guilty of fleeing the scene of an accident, so the police should investigate, if only to ensure that the cyclist is brought before the courts, if it turns out it didn't happen then the the police should investigate and then charge with wasting police time,

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/9063611/Petronella-Wyatt-Do-I-look-like-a-shoplifter.html

although it does look like she has form, hang the thief up.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1070 posts]
10th September 2012 - 18:37

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Being a avid cyclist in London for 4yrs I have been witness to many near misses and incidents involving myself others. In that time I have had 2 crashes knocking me off my bike caused by other cyclists. Near misses usually come in the form of either cars turning left in front of me without Indictcating, cars coming from my left at round abouts (particularly scary!). The most near misses I have and are usually daily are pedestrians stepping into the road and not using crossings. I do take an offence is best defence type attitude but consider myself to be very aware while riding and I think it's that has prevented me from having a serious accident from other peoples poor actions.

On the flip side, I also get to witness other cyclists bombing through lights of various colours (usually not wearing a helmet). I have also had a friend seriously hurt while crossing at a green crossing light by Victoria station.

Basically it comes down to this: Everybody needs to take some personal responsibility for thier actions.

Cyclists need to know they are road users and therefore obey the road laws

Pedestrians need to remember one of the first lessons in life, look both ways before crossing the road!

Drivers need to obey road laws as well and remember their actions can easily kill.

We also need balanced commentary on the whole subject not ranting and raving and inaccurate reporting slanted towards your own agenda.

posted by Nzlucas [89 posts]
10th September 2012 - 20:51

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Q: "Just how many times has Petronella Wyatt's mother been knocked over by rogue cyclists?"

A: Not enough

(do I win?)

Martin Ballantine

posted by MartinPiracy [2 posts]
10th September 2012 - 22:11

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Maybe all pedestrians by law should only be allowed to cross at designated crossings once the crossing has notified road users to stop?
As for newspapers and the media in general, i dont agree with it, i dont read it and i dont beleive a word it says.

Cycling license or no cycling license, i wont be getting one, and i will carry on riding regardless.

people are quick enough to moan about their own safety, but wont act to do anything about it. Like looking before crossing the god damn road!

2 wheels > 4 wheels

posted by allez rikki [18 posts]
10th September 2012 - 22:41

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Bez wrote:
Hang on. That doesn't add up. "At most 25%" plus "up to 75%" *could* add up to 100%, but only if "at most" and "up to" both mean "exactly" -- and if they did then those phrases wouldn't be in there woolying up the figures. And even they did, then you'd logically infer that either in no incident were both parties to blame, or that in up to 25% of incidents there was somehow no-one to blame.

The reason it doesn't add up is that the TRL study (or the one I've seen) published its results as graphs, not tables - and the results are sorted by age and not aggregated.

This creates a *small* area of speculation over the actual figure for 'all adults' - but certainly not the kind this professional Daily Mail bullshitter introduced.

posted by fluffy_mike [79 posts]
11th September 2012 - 2:18

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allez rikki wrote:
Maybe all pedestrians by law should only be allowed to cross at designated crossings once the crossing has notified road users to stop?

A jaywalking law? Please, not here.

Pedestrians are already a pretty put upon class of road users - I'd balk at seeing them coralled & bullied more than they are already.

Here in Manchester, it's usually pretty obvious when there's a risk of pedestrians entering the roadway "unexpectedly" - I move further into the main carriageway if possible, or slow down and cover my brakes if not. It's not rocket science. where they're wandering along bike paths, I either wait to pass them safely, or ask them if I can pass. Again, all pretty easy really.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

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posted by John_the_Monkey [418 posts]
11th September 2012 - 8:23

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Nzlucas wrote:

Basically it comes down to this: Everybody needs to take some personal responsibility for thier actions.

Cyclists need to know they are road users and therefore obey the road laws

Pedestrians need to remember one of the first lessons in life, look both ways before crossing the road!

Drivers need to obey road laws as well and remember their actions can easily kill.

There's a massive false equivalence there though - the potential for harm is vastly greater for the third category - I've yet to see a pedestrian negotiate an urban roundabout at 40 miles an hour whilst chatting away on a hand held mobile phone. I also don't see the law breaking of the pedestrian or cyclist connived at and excused by large sections of the media & society in general.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

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posted by John_the_Monkey [418 posts]
11th September 2012 - 8:27

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As the eagle eyed reader in question I have doubts whether the incidents related by Petsy ever happened. The fact she doesn't state her mum has been hit not twice but three times is distinctly fishy. Sounds like she lifted the text from the earlier article but didn't want to flag this fact to the newspaper paying her for original content so didn't add a link to the earlier article. Any normal person would certainly wish to highlight the fact this was the third such incident in two years.

Naturally, a normal person wouldn't get off on writing bile for the Daily Mail but let's say Petsy is right and her mum has been kit three times by cyclists. It would be victim-blaming of us to state this is the fault of the pedestrian. If there are doddery old dears crossing Regent Street responsible road users ought to slow down in their presence: and that goes for motorists as well as cyclists.

I once hit an old woman crossing a road. I had a green traffic light. She had a red but crossed anyway and didn't look. I was executing a turn and my view was blocked by pedestrians standing still. In law it was the old lady at fault but nevertheless I should have known there would be folks crossing the road on red and should have been ready and able to stop.

This was at a point where I knew there would likely to be a problem. It would be different on a clear stretch of road where it would be more unusual to have pedestrians leaping without looking but, still, we're sharing the road and if we expect motorists to give us room and consideration we ought to do the same for pedestrians.

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posted by Carlton Reid [108 posts]
11th September 2012 - 8:31

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Have we considered the possibility that Petronella's mother is magnetic, and has been attracting bicycles to her body? That would explain her extreme bad fortune.

And also her collection of nails, bolts and iron filings.

On the plus side, if she drops her keys down a drain, she can easily get them back, and she can always work out which way is north.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [160 posts]
11th September 2012 - 8:32

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and hi-viz, and lights, and have bells strapped to their wrists Big Grin

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posted by charlie bravo [51 posts]
11th September 2012 - 8:52

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the above was in reply to 'nowasps' comment about helmets

charlie bravo's picture

posted by charlie bravo [51 posts]
11th September 2012 - 8:55

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mrmo wrote:
thehood wrote:
apart from the usual comments that have already been made about DM quality, a red light in london is bound to be covered by cctv from somewhere and if an ambulance was called the police would likely have been notified as well etc.

Was thinking about this, if it happened then the cyclist is guilty of fleeing the scene of an accident, so the police should investigate, if only to ensure that the cyclist is brought before the courts, if it turns out it didn't happen then the the police should investigate and then charge with wasting police time,

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/9063611/Petronella-Wyatt-Do-I-look-like-a-shoplifter.html

although it does look like she has form, hang the thief up.

In the column she wrote about her shoplifting of a truffle she said: "I fear that fewer readers than one would hope will be shocked by the examples of chicanery and lies I have related."

No Ms Wyatt, we would not be shocked by revelations of your lies.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2188 posts]
11th September 2012 - 9:26

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Type her name into the Daily Mail search engine and see just how many stories there are for her ...

COMPLETE AND UTTER BULLS••T PROPAGANDA from Middle Englands favourite rag..

DISGUSTING!!!!!!!

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [300 posts]
11th September 2012 - 9:33

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So he's a 'youth' and a 'lycra lout'...don't really go together do they!?
Also Patronella (sic) does seem to have a few unsympathetic friends...they each seem to like sniggering at the unfortunate 'buzzing' of the 'old dear' and her propensity for attracting cyclistic injury and ailment....her mother is elderly and frail...she seems to get about a bit on her own though..(and at night)...shouldn't she be chaperoned?...maybe the the cyclist should be 'chapeau' 'roned...
It all smells fishy...in no way do I condone any bad cycling, but I think there appears to be a wee bit too much 'artistic' license (geddit) to this 'story'...what difference, indeed, does she think a license would make to either situation...even motorists have been known to 'flee the scene of an accident'...and a good lot of those (of which I am one...it's my primary mode of transport....) have valid licenses.....
'She was run down by a bicycle.'- surely she was knocked over by a bicycle...or did the hooligan actually need to bunny hop (the coffin dodger)...dear, sweet, frail old lady....was she on the road, was she at a pedestrian(pelican/belisha)crossing.
Perhaps she had escaped from her nursing home on more than one occasion. Perhaps Petrolheadonella is a liar, I can't say for certain, I hope her mother is on the mend, physically and (mentally- she did call her kid Petronella)however she came about her limb shattering experience...
I'm off down the precinct to buzz some oldies on my 13 year old's GT BMX....gnarly braaa!!

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

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posted by The _Kaner [409 posts]
14th September 2012 - 15:30

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