The Bicycle, the hill and the rain

This is a true story. It happened one wet July Morning in the mid 1950’s in a not very nice area of Glasgow called Maryhill.

Maryhill, as the name suggests, is built on the side of a hill. The roads leading down through the housing areas to the main road, which passed round the hill, are steep and in the 50’s were still paved with cobbles. For those of you who have never driven or ridden a bike on cobbles, let me explain that, when wet, the coefficient of friction between wet rubber and wet cobble is

On the main road in question ran a tram line (Cable car I think our American members would call it), beyond this tram line was a small area of road, then a pavement (sidewalk), then a dry stone wall, then a tow path and finally a canal.

So this morning a cyclist came down the hill, late for work, so going faster than he would normally. Being a local he knew all about the coefficient of friction mentioned earlier, but he was in a hurry and when he heard the tram coming along he knew he had to stop.

Brakes were applied, but had little effect. He put his feet down to create friction. Still little effect.

Panicked and frozen with fear the poor man hurtled out of the intersection at what was later estimated to be close to 50 miles per hour, struck the side of the tram.......and that should have been that. But it wasn’t.

Somewhere there must be a guardian angel for those late for work or cyclists or something, because this man sailed up from his bike on impact, went head first through the side window of the tram, across the width of the tram, head first out the far window, cleared the road, the pavement, the wall and the towpath and landed in the canal.

The bicycle was wrecked of course, but the injuries to the man consisted of a small cut on his thumb.

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