Like many sports fans, the Charleston workers’ compensation lawyers at Howell Law have often recognized professional cycling as a sport tainted by controversy because of widespread drug use. But, with that being said, it is a sport where even the smallest mistake creates the potential for catastrophic consequences for the athlete; broken bones, head and spinal injuries, and as we saw this week, death.
While navigating a downhill mountain pass in the third stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy), Belgian cyclist Wouter Wylandt lost control of his bike for a split second and slammed into a roadside wall, a crashed that ultimate killed the rider. It was an extremely unfortunate incident for the cycling world, as it was the first fatality at the Italian race in 25 years and the first at one of the sport’s showcase tours in 16 years.
At the time fatal bicycle accident Wylandt was traveling at speeds upward of 50 mph. In an Associated Press article on the ESPN website a Giro doctor noted Wylandt suffered a serious head injury from a fracture in the skull base, and while the paramedic team performed cardiac massage, after 40 minutes, they had to suspend resuscitation because there was nothing more they could do.
It was back in 2003 after similar fatal skull fracture injury that killed a rider not wearing a helmet that the International Cycling Union made wearing hard helmets compulsory in its races. It just goes to show, as race director Angelo Zomegnan pointed out, “that this is a sport where everybody applauds the riders, but that they all risk their lives in every single meter of the course.”
In the interest of public safety, we want to remind those living in the Charleston area to be safe when cycling. While there may not be the danger of losing control of one’s bike while traveling down a mountain in the Lowcountry, there certainly remains other risks. To prevent serious injuries when cycling always wear a helmet in case of a fall. Also, if your an inexperienced cyclist refrain from riding on busy streets, as cars present an extremely serious threat to riders. Please remember, it is of the utmost importance for both cyclists and drivers must pay attention to traffic signals and stay alert to help in reducing the number of accidents involving bikes and motor vehicles.
*The image in this entry is of Luigi Ganna, the overall winner of the first Giro d’Italia in 1909.