All cyclists have heard the “sorry mate, I didn’t see you” excuse from a driver after a near miss or collision with a vehicle, but a 68-year-old farmer from Oklahoma has elevated it to new levels after failing to spot a two-tonne elephant on the road ahead of him.
Bill Carpenter was returning from church with his wife in their SUV when he belatedly registered the presence of the eight-foot-tall elephant on the road ahead, forcing him to swerve to avoid a head-on collision.
The female Indian elephant, which had escaped from a nearby circus, suffered a broken tusk and an injured leg in the incident, and received veterinary attention once handlers from the circus had been able to calm it down.
Carpenter claims that “the elephant blended in with the road,” something that sounds like it comes straight out of the Sir Alex Ferguson Bumper Book of Excuses – football fans may remember the Manchester United manager getting his side to change shirts at half-time in a match against Southampton a few years back, claiming that the grey away kit made it impossible for his players to pick each other out.
More seriously, the incident does highlight the issue of drivers needing to be aware of what is going on around them on the road, raised by cyclists’ organization CTC last month when it launched its ‘Stop SMIDSY’ campaign, which urges cyclists to report incidents of bad driving.
It is not yet known what SMIDSY the Lion, the campaign's mascot recently interviewed by road.cc, makes of this latest incident.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.