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Bishop fractures skull after being doored while cycling - but says he should have worn his helmet

Paul Swarbrick, Roman Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, is recovering from incident which happened on VE Day

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, Paul Swarbrick, is recovering after sustaining a fractured skull when he was the victim of a car dooring while riding his bike - and said afterwards it was his own fault for not wearing his cycle helmet for a trip to the shops.

According to the Lancaster Guardian, the 61-year-old, who was appointed to the diocese in 2018 by Pope Francis, was left “shaken” by the incident which happened on Friday 8 May, the VE Day bank holiday.

Father Stephen Pearson from the diocese as saying: “The bishop has always been a keen cyclist and he was cycling as his form of exercise in Morecambe when he was involved in an accident.

“In Bare where he lives he was cycling past a parked car and the door opened as he was passing and knocked him off his bike.

“He ended up in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary that Friday afternoon a week ago and on the Sunday he was allowed home.

“He has fractured his skull and damaged his left ear,” Father Pearson continued.

“He is a very fit man but he is sensible and is recovering at this time and will be for three or four weeks.

“A number of services were broadcast during Holy Week from the cathedral and the bishop has been doing a short 10-minute weekly invitation to prayer which was filmed at the cathedral.

“These things are not now possible but hopefully we will see him back very soon.

“His health is very good at 61-years-of-age,” Father Pearson said, but “The severity of the incident was quite a shock and when I spoke to him he sounded quite shaken.

“He will be back as soon as he can. The bishop is forbidden to go near a bike now!,” he added.

Writing on his blog, the Bishop said: "This has not been the week I thought it was going to be. The change came about because I fell off my bicycle on Friday, VE Day.

"That resulted in an ambulance trip to Lancaster Royal Infirmary, where I spent two days under observation. All the NHS staff were professional, kind and attentive. In a time when we are all thanking them for their work I have deep personal reasons for standing at my gate and applauding on a Thursday evening."

He added: "Of course, it was largely my own silly fault. No helmet ... Usually I do wear one but since I was only nipping up to the shops I thought it not necessary. I was wrong.

"As I cycled past vehicles parked outside the shops one driver opened the door and sent me flying. I’ve no idea who that was but I do hope the person finds out I am ok."

That last comment suggests that the driver who opened the car door did not come forward.

Under current legislation, the maximum penalty for anyone convicted of "opening a vehicle’s door, or causing or permitting someone to do so, and thereby cause injury to or endanger any person" is a fine of up to £1,000.

The charity Cycling UK has called for stricter penalties, including imprisonment, in cases where a cyclist has been killed as a result of a driver or passenger opening a door, and for a new offence of causing death or serious injury through opening a vehicle’s door.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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