Sheffield doctor’s life-threatening crash reveals the dangers of cycling the outdoor city 

Written by Allegra Goodwin

A Sheffield doctor’s life-threatening crash on his commute from the Northern General Hospital has exposed the dangers of cycling in the “outdoor city”. 

Dr James Meiring was cycling to his home off Ecclesall Road when he was involved in a collision with a delivery van which could have been fatal.   

The father-of-three, who has been caring for COVID patients since March 2020, suffered six fractured ribs and a collapsed lung in the crash on Burngreave Road on 6 April. 

“I went straight into the flat side of the van with my shoulder and my back, so it was kind of just a flat impact, then I slumped to the floor,” said Dr Meiring. 

“At first I thought I hadn’t broken anything, but then I developed serious levels of pain in my chest where I’d hit the van, and I couldn’t breathe very well, so I called an ambulance.”

Dr Meiring spent three nights in hospital and is now recovering at home, having been signed off work for four weeks due to his terrifying ordeal. 

The accident has sparked a commotion online, with a fellow doctor starting a petition for a safe cycle lane connecting the Northern General and the city centre. 

Sheffielders flocked to social media to support the petition, which has over 1,300 signatures so far, but it seems the Northern General area might be the tip of the iceberg, as users recalled their own cycling crashes and near misses all over the city. 

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Dr Meiring agreed: “If you speak to any cyclist in Sheffield who regularly commutes to work they will tell you they have had a near miss where they could have been knocked off.

“The cycling infrastructure is dreadful.

“It’s generally painted cycle lanes squeezed on the sides of busy roads that get almost universally ignored by car users in peak times.”

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Like many Sheffielders, Dr Meiring pointed out the irony of Sheffield’s alias, the ‘outdoor city’. 

“People come here for that reason, but try cycling two or three miles across the city and you take your life into your own hands every time.” 

It’s not only motorised vehicles that pose a threat to cyclists – campaigners Cycle Sheffield keep an updated map of every bicycle collision on a tram track in the city since January 2015 – 712 have been reported so far. 

Dr Luke Hunt, who started the Northern General petition, also stressed the environmental consequences of Sheffield’s treacherous roads.

He said: “Many people do not want to take the risk of cycling on these dangerous roads and are put off cycling to work as a result, contributing towards congestion and air pollution.”

Sheffield City Council are currently investing in better cycle infrastructure, but Dr Hunt pointed out the Northern General area does not feature in their plans. 

As around 7,000 people work at the hospital, he argued providing them with safe, non-polluting travel options should be a priority. 

Sheffield City Council were contacted for comment but did not respond.

Written by Allegra Goodwin

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