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Pro cyclist says bright clothing "doesn't matter to some drivers" after being left with broken back and snapped bike

“Driver could’ve seen me… should’ve seen me”, says Trinity Racing's Bob Donaldson, who suffered fractures on four vertebrae on his way home after training...

While we've reported on numerous instances of cyclists being asked to wear high-vis by various authorities in the past, clothing choice is sometimes shown to be futile when it comes to some drivers – and now, a pro cyclist representing Great Britain has told of how he suffered a broken back after being hit by a speeding driver, despite donning an outfit that could barely be any brighter.

Bob Donaldson was on a training ride in Whaley Bridge in the Peak District and was on his way home. As he was heading down a hill, a driver was pulling into his driveway and, being in a car, wrongly assumed that he would make it quicker than the cyclist, and continued to drive. Unfortunately Bob had nowhere to go, crashing right into the bonnet, and was thrown across the car on the road.

“It was a straight hill, the driver could’ve seen me… should’ve seen me. He thought that he could beat me to the drive and pulled right across my path. I had nowhere to go,” Bob told

The 20-year old, who rides for the Trinity Racing team, was on his Specialized Tarmac SL7, which also snapped by the head tube. Fortunately, there were four training police officers across the road who helped him up and called an ambulance.

After a CT scan at the hospital, he found out that he had a broken transverse process on four lumbar vertebrae, delegating him to six weeks of bed rest.

This comes at a time when the pro cycling season has already started, with Bob’s first race coming up halfway through March in Portugal, which he won’t be able to participate in anymore.

“It’s so depressing to have such an important period off the bike really,” said Bob. “I don’t see the point, you can wear whatever you want, some people are going to drive stupidly anyway.”

The outfit that Bob was wearing is the UK-based Trinity Racing’s kit for 2023, the team that has produced elite riders like Tom Pidcock and Ben Turner. The kit has been touted as bold and wild; surely bright enough to stand out on the road. However, the notion that cyclists wearing hi-visibility clothing are more likely to be seen and avoid getting hit by drivers has been called into question several times in academic studies.

Even though the UK’s Highway Code suggests that cyclists “should” wear light-coloured or fluorescent clothing, a study at Bath and Brunel University showed that such practices have little or no effect on pedestrians’ or cyclists' safety, or on the behaviour of people driving.

Recently, pedestrians in Scotland were asked to wear hi-vis by the police after six people were killed after being hit on the road within just 13 days. Even a recent pro cyclist-led campaign of asking cyclists to use a light was criticised by the chair of Road Danger Reduction Forum for feeding into a culture of "victim blaming". 

> Pro cyclist-led lights campaign, endorsed by Tadej Pogačar, “feeds into victim-blaming culture”, says road safety expert

In 2020, the Metropolitan Police denied that an operation handing out hi-vis vests to cyclists in the London constituted victim-blaming. Meanwhile in November 2021 Northern Ireland's road policing unit said that "nobody wants to play spot the cyclist" and recommended hi-vis clothing, prompting Surrey's police force to reply denouncing the advice on social media.

Chris Boardman, the Commissioner for Active Travel England, has also lamented that cyclists have to take precautionary measures just to ride safely on roads.

Bob Donaldson, frustrated with this culture, posted a photo of his broken bike and his bright kit, with the text: “Can stand out as much as you want, doesn’t matter to some drivers”.

He said that luckily, the crash happened right by the driver’s house, so there was nowhere they could go: “The police are involved, I’m sure in due course we’ll get something sorted,” he said. Bob is at home right now, although with little to no movement possible.

The pro cyclist broke through on the competitive road cycling in 2019, and 2022 was a quite successful year for Bob, ranking fourth in the general classification of Tour d’Eure-et-Loir. Here’s to wishing him a speedy recovery and hoping we see him get back on track (and the road) soon.

Adwitiya joined in 2023 after finishing his masters in Journalism from Cardiff University, with a dissertation focusing on active travel. He's currently living in Cardiff and for the most part moans about the abruptly ending cycle lanes, if he's not cursing the headwind. Adwitiya also covers local and national politics for Voice Wales, and sometimes dabbles in topics related to science, tech and the environment. Cycling became a part of his life just a couple of years ago, and now he can't think of a single reason why anyone would drive if they could cycle. He usually uses his bike for commuting, but he also loves excursions on the Taff trail, however never underestimate his ability to find an excuse to watch something on GCN instead.

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