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Sorry, Mate: The SMIDSY Phenomenon

By Christopher Ashley

I’ll start with full disclosure; I’ve been on both ends of a SMIDSY. I’ve said SMIDSY. And I’ve been told SMIDSY. For those of you who don’t know what SMIDSY means, it means “Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You”. And it’s usually said by the guilty party in a traffic collision or, as you can see here, a near collision.


Whose fault?

It’s very easy for us cyclists to point the finger at car and van drivers but, as the above video demonstrates, even pedestrians can be oblivious to cyclists. Why? Because cyclists often move faster than expected for a vehicle that doesn’t make any noise.

So, here we have a cyclist moving at speed on the road, being careful to stay clear from the row of parked cars that may reverse with limited visibility. He’s got flashing lights that you can see on the road, despite the bright street lights – and still, he narrowly avoids a collision with a pedestrian.

Is day-glo the solution?

You know when you see a cyclist wearing black at night and they don’t have any lights on their bike? We’ve seen them, haven’t we? We shook our heads and thought that if they were wearing day-glo lycra, we’d have a better chance of seeing them. Wrong – the point is that we’ve seen them.

Here we see a responsible and alert motorist who, seeing the unlit cyclist with plenty of time to spare, indicates his overtake. Helpfully, the driver flashes his full beams just before he passes so you can see the reflective strip on the back of the cyclist.

Obviously, us cyclists should always use lights at night, but if they unexpectedly fail, reflective strips help you avoid a SMIDSY. And motorists can’t assume that cyclists will always be visible – stay alert. As both a cyclist and a motorist, I’ve been made aware of a tail light not working. It happens.

Blind spots

Sometimes, it’s the responsibility of the motorist, but there comes a point where we need to own our own safety. Even in cycling utopias like Amsterdam, you can’t assume that everyone will follow the rules. Check out this video and see if you’re alert to the dangers like the cyclist filming.

First of all, the lorry is indicating left and has been conscientious enough to avoid the bicycle advanced stop line. One cyclist sees the potential danger – that the lorry is indicating to the left and makes the decision to go around the lorry’s right-hand side. This is the right decision.

The Dutch Reach

Even when your car is stopped, there are several ways it could still cause a collision. Most driving curriculums around the world prevent them, but one is almost unique to The Netherlands – this video demonstrates what The Dutch Reach is.

Being the selfish idiot I am, I’ve realised that not only does The Dutch Reach prevent The Door Prize from happening – it reduces the risk of cyclists, motor-cyclists, van-drivers, and other car-drivers from ripping your beloved car’s door off its hinges. Thanks, mate – I did see you.