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.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.