Video footage has emerged of the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, knocking over a cyclist and sending his bicycle crashing into a lamppost, in an incident that left the rider in a state of shock by the roadside.
The film obtained by the Guardian shows Grayling swinging open the door of his ministerial car as it sat in traffic outside the Palace of Westminster and the unfortunate Jaiqi Liu attempted to cycle by.
Grayling sent Liu flying and his bicycle crashing into a lamppost, leaving him dazed and bruised on the pavement. Liu said his bike sustained a damaged wheel, brakes, mudguard and lost its lights.
The transport secretary left his car immediately to speak to the shaken cyclist and check on his wellbeing, apologising and putting a hand on Liu’s shoulders as he sat up on the floor.
Liu said he was in shock and became aware of the pain later. “One thing he did say was that I was cycling too fast, which was not true,” Liu said. “That made me really upset. He made out it was my fault.”
Passersby recovered the bike. After asking if he was all right, and watching him return slowly to his feet, Grayling shook Liu’s hand.
Footage shows that Grayling then left the scene. Liu says he did so without leaving any name or details, less than two minutes after the collision.
Liu said he reported the incident, which occurred just before 6pm on 12 October, to the Metropolitan police, still not knowing who had been in the car.
Liu, 35, works at the World Bank and is a regular cyclist who has not had an accident before or since. He said he suffered pain to his back, legs and head after the incident. He said that Grayling ignored the state of his bike, which he had to check in for repairs.
Liu said: “It’s my first and only accident and it came out of the blue. Definitely he should stay a bit longer to check on me. But maybe he had something more important than this to rush to.”
Footage shows Grayling was accompanied by his fellow transport minister Paul Maynard, who left the scene, while Simon Jones, a former Conservative parliamentary candidate and now special adviser to Grayling, is seen watching the scene unfold as he puts his identity badge in his jacket pocket.
Liu said he did not expect police to investigate, but he had wanted the incident to be logged in case his injuries proved more serious. “Also,” he said, “I think it’s important to report all these incidents to the police so they are recorded, and they can make the roads safer.”
The footage came from a camera mounted on the handlebars of a bike belonging to Laurence de Hoest, a cyclist who was just behind Liu when he was hit.
De Hoest, a business analyst, said he was concerned about the conditions cyclists face. “I ride into London every day and I’ve had a couple of close calls,” he said, “so I record everything. This is the minister of transport and here he is swinging his door out.”
He added that the incident, which occurred on a stretch of road 20 metres before a cycle lane is restored, showed that “your cycle lane is only as good as your weakest link. We need to make sure they are properly connected”.
De Hoest said he was concerned that the transport secretary was insufficiently alert to the risks that his policies, as well as actions, posed.
He too was unaware of Grayling’s identity at the time of the incident, but sent the video to the Guardian after seeing the minister in an interview reported in Cycling Weekly earlier this month, where Grayling had complained that cycle lanes in London “cause too much of a problem for road users”. The minister added: “Motorists in London have got to be immensely careful of cyclists.”
Liu, having learned who Grayling is, told the Guardian: “And he says cycle lanes are the problem, which makes me angry. If he is still in the position to make cities safer for cyclists, he needs to do something.”
A spokesperson for Grayling said: “This was an unfortunate accident. Mr Grayling got out of the car, checked the cyclist was OK and waited until he was back on his feet. Mr Grayling spoke to the cyclist and apologised; they shook hands before he left.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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