Moment penny-farthing rider smashes into delivery van on north London street

The bigger they are, they say, the harder they fall. Someone should have warned this penny-farthing rider.

Footage shared widely on social media yesterday shows a man on a modern version of the distinctive Victorian bicycle ploughing into a delivery van and crashing to the pavement.

The scene, captured on a shopping street in Stoke Newington, north London, was one that will have been familiar to cyclists for the 150 years since the big-wheelers were invented.

The bike rider was heading down Stoke Newington Church Street and had the right of way when the DPD delivery van turned across his path heading into a side road. 

The man rode down a main road in Stoke Newington, north London in footage seemingly filmed on Tuesday

The man rode down a main road in Stoke Newington, north London in footage seemingly filmed on Tuesday

The man rode down a main road in Stoke Newington, north London in footage seemingly filmed on Tuesday

The van driver turned into a side street with the penny-farthing rider unable to avoid him

The van driver turned into a side street with the penny-farthing rider unable to avoid him

The van driver turned into a side street with the penny-farthing rider unable to avoid him

The bike rider swerved but was was unable to slow in time and smashed into the rear of the van, flinging him spreadeagled to the ground and crying out in agony and shock. 

The man who posted the footage online reported the rider, whose only head protection appeared to be earmuffs, was bruised but not seriously hurt.

There are no requirements for penny-farthings to have brakes, though modern versions sometimes have them fitted to the rear wheel.

It was unclear exactly when the footage was filmed, however pedestrians appeared to be wearing masks and winter clothing.

In online discussion about the incident, a bike maker wrote: ‘I have been informed by the person that shot the video that the van stopped and details were exchanged.

‘I have identified the bike as one that I manufactured and am now in the process of contacting my customers to find out who the rider was.’

The man was sent flying though the person who uploaded the footage said he escaped serious injury

The man was sent flying though the person who uploaded the footage said he escaped serious injury

The man was sent flying though the person who uploaded the footage said he escaped serious injury

He later added: ‘I’ve been in contact with the rider. Bruised but otherwise OK.’ His comments couldn’t immediately be verified.

After the crash, other cyclists and a bus driver slow down and appear to be about to head to the cyclist’s aid when the video cuts out. 

Penny-farthings were a common sight on British roads in the 1870s and 1880s. The name comes from the comparative sizes of coins of the era – the large Victorian penny dwarfing the smaller farthing, which was worth a quarter of its value. 

They became largely obsolete by 1890 thanks to the development of modern-looking bikes with gears to aid speed rather than the pedals being fixed to the wheel directly.

However they maintained a devoted following through the decades, and are now popular with hipsters – one of whom may this morning be wishing he’d opted out of the cultural mainstream in a less precariously balanced way.

The Metropolitan Police has been contacted for comment. 

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