Author Topic: Lucy's Law (#IfItSavesOneLife)  (Read 353 times)


  • Quiet please
Lucy's Law (#IfItSavesOneLife)
« on: October 15, 2020, 07:04:47 pm »
Some YACF-ers may be aware that I do a bit of fiction writing on the side. I recently entered a  contest in which contenders were given a three part prompt, of a genre, a location and an object that had to feature prominently, and challenged to produce a 1,000 word story in 48 hours.  My prompts for the second round of the knockout were: a political satire, a bicycle shop and a bikini.  I didn't win, but it was a lot of fun writing this. Posted here just for the fun of it....



I was in the workshop early one morning, truing a wheel for a customer, when Lucy burst through the door. I’d like to claim that the first thing I noticed about the co-owner of our bike shop was her beaming smile, but it wasn’t. It was that the only thing she wore was a bright green bikini. 

I didn’t need to react, beyond giving her a quizzical look.

“This is what I’m wearing to cycle in from now on,” she announced. “Last night, someone broke into my locker at the swimming pool and I had to ride home like this. I didn’t get a single close overtake, sideswipe or anything nasty.”

I hesitated before responding. A few days earlier she had been knocked off her bike by a driver who claimed not to have seen her. She’d observed, with some justification, that anyone who failed to see a six-foot two woman with a billowing mop of red hair really should be holding on to a guide dog rather than a steering wheel.

“So, you’re saying that wearing a bikini made riding your bike safer?”

“Exactly. And if everyone wore one – well, men could wear trunks – drivers would realise how vulnerable we are and would take extra care not to drive into us. There wouldn’t be so many injuries and deaths. We should start selling swimwear instead of the usual cycling kit.”

Watching her step through into the main part of the shop and shimmy past the display bikes to unlock the front door, I told myself there was no point arguing. Five years of running Blackheath Bikes together had taught me that that trying to stop Lucy when she had a big idea was futile. The next day there was a poster in the window exclaiming “STAY SAFE – BIKE IN A BIKINI”. 

Within a couple of weeks, we had a display of swimwear in the window and several times a day I would overhear Lucy recounting her tale and urging customers to follow her lead. Some objected, of course, saying they would look silly or that they would only wear one when their friends did the same, but Lucy could be very persuasive and it wasn’t long before we were ordering more stock.

A few weeks later, we were visited by a reporter from the local newspaper. He must have sold the story on to a national because it went crazy after that. I arrived at the shop one morning to encounter, Lucy – in her bikini – being interviewed by the BBC. Within days, the media were reporting bike shops all over the country starting to stock swimwear. Manufacturers were announcing ranges for mountain biking, road racing and commuting. Hashtag IFITSAVES1LIFE was soon trending on Twitter.

Our local MP weighed in, proposing “Lucy’s Law”, to make it illegal to ride a bike without wearing swimwear. Critics argued that bikinis offered no protection to someone hit by a car but were shouted down by people with stories of how their lives had been saved by their Speedos. Even the Prime Minister, who was known to cycle fully-dressed, added his support. “If it saves one life, perhaps a child’s, then it is worth it,” he said in Parliament.

When a famous actor was knocked off his bike by a delivery van, breaking several bones, newspaper columnists chided him for not wearing swimming trunks. Obviously, it was his own fault that the van driver drove into him.

I thought it would all be over by Christmas, but when I saw see-through skinsuits with thermal bikinis – heated by clip-on battery packs – being featured in a Cycling Weekly spread on clothes for winter riding, I had to admit that Lucy had started something big. Our shop had become famous by association, but she personally was being touted as a role model for young women and there was talk of the Queen awarding her an O.B.E. for services to road safety.

Was I jealous of the attention? A little, I’ll admit, but I was still not entirely convinced. Even when it was announced that the next Tour De France would be ridden in trunks, with the sponsors’ logos across the rear, despite there being no chance of those riders encountering a dozy trucker, I continued to cycle in T-shirt and shorts.

“Wouldn’t it be better to build protected cycle lanes, so cars and bikes didn’t have to share the same space?” I suggested to our MP, but she dismissed the idea.

“This isn’t Holland, you know,” she said. “If you put cycle lanes at the side of every road where would people park?

“Wearing swimwear is something all cyclists should do to protect themselves. After all, it’s their responsibility to stay safe.”

Lucy’s Law didn’t pass, but by now there was so much pressure on all cyclists to comply with its intentions that those who resisted were often subjected to abuse, even by other cyclists.

Yet, for some reason, cyclists continued to die. Every few weeks, the media would feature another grieving relative, expressing horror that their loved one had been killed despite “always wearing their swimwear” on their bikes. It was becoming clear, even to the politicians, that bikinis were not the answer. Something more was needed.

Perhaps fittingly, it was Lucy again who came up with the answer. One morning, even though sporting a fluorescent yellow and blue polka dot bikini, designed especially for her by Stella McCartney, she suffered yet another sideswipe, leaving her with cuts and bruises down one side. She brooded all day until, as she was locking up the shop, she declared that she knew what she needed to do.

“Bikinis aren’t enough,” she said. “We’ve got to do even more to protect ourselves.” 

She disappeared into the bathroom, emerging a few minutes later, ready for her ride home.

“This is the answer,” she said.

I looked up – and that was the moment at which I learned that my business partner had a tattoo of Lance Armstrong on her left buttock.