Battered, bruised bodies, mangled limbs and shredded skin are set to feature in a new book aimed at showing the human side of cycling accidents.
The brainchild of east London cyclist and publisher Neil Grayshon, Cycling Shouldn‘t Hurt combines 50 portraits of bike riders injured in the past few months, with close-up photography by Fiona Garden of their wounds, scars and bruises.
These images are accompanied by an interview with each of the subjects, describing how they came to be injured – via poor road maintenance or traffic collisions.
Daniel Wolman © 2014 by Fiona Garden/Grayshon Editions
“When it comes to cycling accidents, the focus is always concentrated on blame or statistics,“ explains Neil, 31. “Someone recently said to me: one cycling death is a tragedy, two is a statistic.
“So it becomes very easy for the vulnerable individual to be forgotten, particularly in the process of reporting.
“This book looks behind the headlines, behind the statistics, at the personal stories.“
Neil came up with the idea of creating this book, the first for his publishing house Grayshon, following an accident he had a couple of years ago.
“I‘m still recovering now, I went over a pothole, hit the ground really hard and woke up in hospital. I ended up with a catalogue of injuries... broken elbows, crushed ribs, a broken face, lost teeth. It was serious, quite unfortunate, and it really knocked my confidence.“
Despite this encounter, six weeks later, Neil, who lives in Stoke Newington, was back on his bike. “I‘m not the only one, you‘ll find that every person in this book is still cycling.
“And I think that shows a great sense of resilience among us.“
Indeed it does. For while figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the number of people travelling to work in the capital by bicycle continues to soar, so too does the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured per billion miles cycled.
Furthermore, a recent investigation by a national newspaper highlighted that drivers have only a one in ten chance of being sent to jail after being involved in the death of a cyclist, with an analysis of police data on the 40 cyclists killed in London between 2010 and 2012 revealing that drivers had been imprisoned on just four occasions.
Marcel Smith © 2014 by Fiona Garden/Grayshon Editions
“London Mayor Boris Johnson said that cycling safety wouldn‘t be an afterthought, after all, it‘s a vital part of getting around London,“ says Neil.
“But up to this point I‘m not sure that rhetoric is turning into action on the ground. Schemes proposed are exciting, money allocated is encouraging, but there seems to be very slow movement.
“More and more people are getting on their bikes, it‘s a fun, affordable way to get around, it‘s just cycling infrastructure, particularly in London, that‘s not up to scratch.
“We‘ve got cycle lanes that lead nowhere. Stopping boxes which are not policed. People not having enough space and being squeezed between vehicles. Lots of cyclists have broken collarbones from car doors being opened on them.
“We need more space, quieter roads and people to be aware of cyclists.
“This is all an ongoing debate, we have some very active cycle safety groups and I can only hope that this book, through the graphic potency of the images of someone scarred or injured, will provide another way of talking about cycle safety and the need for change.“
The book‘s preliminary publishing date is set for summer and the launch will not be a traditional affair.
“We‘ve got 32 cyclists distributing books to their local authorities, and then we‘ll be converging on City Hall.
“It‘s important that this book is seen by people who make decisions. It‘s a call to arms for wide-reaching change to urban cycle infrastructure. And it‘s about reminding people that at the centre of these stats and lurid headlines are vulnerable human beings.“
Grayshon is seeking sponsorship for printing and distribution of Cycling Shouldn‘t Hurt, with a variety of incentives on offer. To sponsor the project visit: http://grayshon.co/