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Modern life is often characterised as cold and uncompromising. But last week, about 100 bystanders acted entirely against the stereotype. It's the latest in a series of events which challenges assumptions about apathy.
It is an unremarkable place for something remarkable to happen. The junction of Hoe Street and Church Hill in Walthamstow, east London, echoes almost any UK high street. There's a Subway, a newsagent, a couple of estate agents, an optician.
But last Thursday an otherwise mundane rush-hour was interrupted by a horrible sound. A crunch, a smash, a pop, a bang. People have described the noise in different ways, but all of a sudden the scattered attention of almost everyone in the vicinity was focused.
Moments earlier, Zoheb Ishfaq had been sitting in his car with his family, aware that he was already running late for a wedding.
He was approaching the traffic lights, coming up the gentle hill from Walthamstow Central station. To his left there was a paved area for pedestrians leading towards a market and a 99p store. Rather confusingly, cars can also drive down there. On the corner there's a restaurant with outside seating.
Three cars ahead of Zoheb, just before 6pm, a red double-decker bus - the 212 - was preparing to turn right, past a concrete clock tower, barely a few stops into its route towards Chingford
As we were running up to the bus, the driver was trying to look out of the window, a bit confused," Alex recalls. But apparently unaware of exactly what had happened, the driver edged forward. It was a potentially disastrous move. "Because of the way [the unicyclist] was lying, he's gone up his leg, from his calf up to the back of the thigh," Robin says.
"I just remember running in front of the bus slamming on the windscreen to stop," Alex says, "and that caused him to reverse a little bit." But the bus was still on Shields's leg. "We were just screaming to roll back or reverse ever so slightly and he was getting all flustered."
Alex dashed inside to call an ambulance. Zoheb, meanwhile, had stopped his car almost instantly and within seconds had joined the frantic scene unfolding. Several people were there by now, all shouting instructions at the driver. "I think he panicked, he was almost in tears by the end of it," says Alex. Zoheb thinks he may have been in shock. "Everybody was yelling at him," he adds, "you couldn't even make out what was being said, although the majority of people were trying to get him to move back."
It soon became clear to the gathering crowd that something else needed to be done. "That image I have of the guy squirming - it was at that point I realised 'Don't bother [involving the driver]'," Zoheb recalls.
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