A recent news story out of the UK demonstrates the importance of proper bicycle maintenance and should serve as a warning to all cyclists. To view the article, click here.
Before I explain why this story is important, I first want to provide you with some background information. On July 25, 2012 14 year old, Kadian Harding, and members of his family set out with the intention of taking a group bike ride in the countryside. The day’s events began in a relatively uneventful manner. Kadian and his father had some concerns over how his brakes felt, so they took the bike into a local shop to be checked out. The shop’s owner looked the bike over, adjusted the gears, worked on the rear brake cable, and gave the bike back. Kadian’s father gave the brakes a squeeze and noted that they felt firmer, so the group proceeded for their ride. As they reached the crest of a steep hill and prepared to descend, the mood in the group was jovial. They were laughing and enjoying themselves. Suddenly, Kadian began to pick up speed and pulled away from the group. He begann to scream and desperately attempted to slow or stop his bike, but continued to accelerate before ultimately colliding with a van on the road at the base of the hill. Kadian suffered massive head injuries and died at the scene. But the tragedy of this event goes beyond the horrific scene, the immeasurable emotional loss visited upon the Harding family, and the tragic loss of Kadian’s young and promising life.
An inquest was held this summer, during which the person who had performed the work on Kadian’s bike just before the incident (the owner of the bike shop), claimed that he’d adjusted the gears and replaced a frayed rear cable but denied that he’d been asked to specifically examine the brakes. The owner also claimed that when the bike left the shop it was “in a perfectly safe condition”, but experts who examined the bike agreed that the brakes had failed triggering the crash. More specifically, the front brake completely failed due to improper tightening of a bolt which allowed the cable to slip, and the rear brake – actuated by the cable which the shop’s owner admitted working on, would not pull firmly enough to slow or stop the bike. As an avid cyclist for years, I can attest to the fact that a bike like Kadian’s should stop with no problem – even with only the rear brake – provided its properly adjusted and functioning normally. Which begs the question: How could this tragedy occur? The answer appears to have come under questioning from the family’s lawyer at the inquest: The bike shop owner reportedly admitted that he did not hold any qualifications for repairing bicycles! He went on to explain: “I have never felt the need to do so. I feel comfortable with my abilities.”
Amazing. The moral? INQUIRE OF THE TRAINING OF THE MECHANIC WHO IS INSPECTING AND WORKING ON YOUR BIKE. YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON IT.
Kadian Harding’s parents have set up a Facebook page in tribute to their son, and memorial rides and events have been held in many locations. The page can be accessed via this link: https://www.facebook.com/KadianProject.
More information on this tragic story can be found via the following links: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/newsreview/features/article1254677.ece; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2325797/Riding-bike-climbing-trees-raiding-biscuit-jar-Since-son-killed-year-Debora-sees-time-Then-comes-cruel-slap-reality-.html; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-22379092; http://road.cc/content/news/82467-family-threaten-legal-action-after-teenage-boy-killed-when-front-brakes-failed