London Fire Brigade has moved swiftly to disassociate itself from comments critical of cyclists made by one of its firefighters following an incident that left a bike rider with what are described as “life-changing injuries.”
The cyclist, a man thought to be aged in his 30s, was struck by a Nissan Qashqai 4x4 on Friday evening at the car park of the Merton branch of Sainsbury’s, and suffered severe burns from its catalytic converter as he lay trapped underneath it.
The incident was attended by the London Fire Brigade as well as the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service.
It took around a minute to free the man, who was also having severe difficulty in breathing, reports the Wimbledon Guardian.
It is comments made to the same newspaper afterwards that attracted criticism.
The unnamed crew member said: “There is a big problem with cyclists at the moment generally.
“There are so many more cyclists on the roads that we have had a number of incidents ourselves with fire engines in recent months.
“What they do is tuck themselves between the 150mm gap of the kerb and lorry and really get themselves into places they just should not be.
“They are not respecting the road are getting themselves into dangerous positions.”
“If there is a small gap, just stay back.”
Many of the people making comments to the article, published yesterday, took London Fire Brigade to task for the comments apparently made on its behalf and the element of victim-blaming they complained.
Several commenters pointed out that it was insensitive to speak about cyclists in such sweeping terms when the alleged behaviour of some bore no relation to the incident at hand, which had left someone seriously injured.
One commenter added: “I have been to Wimbledon Fire Station on a number of occasions with children from my Cub Pack, and I suspect that I know who made these very insensitive comments.
“I for one will not go back there again until I see a retraction of what has been said.”
Today, London Fire Brigade’s borough commander for Merton, Rick Ogden, sought to distance the fire service from the individual’s remarks.
He said: “The comment published in the Wimbledon Guardian was from an individual and does not represent the views of the London Fire Brigade.
“We take our responsibilities to all road users very seriously and firefighters work closely with partner agencies to promote safety on London’s roads.
“Our thoughts are with the people involved in this 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.