Cycling is a form of freedom and as such appeals to the unstructured, the creative, the anarchists and the free spirits - desirable adjectives that don't read so pretty written on a headstone.
Riding can and should be a safe, and it is wrong to think that it is disproportionately more dangerous than other modes of transport, however the reality is that British roads were built for the horse and cart and now attempt to accommodate cars, lorries, buses, cabs and bikes. Despite some positive statements, government and policy makers have shown little to no desire to implement the drastic changes required to truly make cycling safer. If you really want to see how much of a disgrace it is, go and cycle in Europe for a day or two.
There are some great websites dedicated to cycling safety that offer comprehensive advice but below are a few 'cycle hacks' that we believe can make cycling safer and more enjoyable:
- By far the most important thing for your safety is the quality of your riding. Helmets, lights, clothing all have their place but are secondary to experience and awareness.
- Cycle regularly and start young. To begin with, cycle with more experienced riders who you can learn from.
- Don't cycle in the gutter, be confident and own your space in the road.
- Ride a regular route if you have a commute. Get to know the junctions, the hazards and the bus patterns, this is particularly important at notoriously dangerous spots.
- There are some things worth dying for, undertaking a moving lorry or bus is not one of them. Don't do it. Ever.
- Make eye contact with motorists, make sure they are in no doubt what you are up to.
- Don't look down at the road in front of you, look ahead and anticipate how situations may develop, in particular worse case scenarios, always expect the unexpected.
- If in any doubt at all about a situation, pull over. If Barak Obama can spare the time to play golf, you can spare the time to stay safe.
Contrary to popular belief most motorists are not petrol meat heads intent on destroying the planet and injuring cyclists, but people going about their day the same as everyone else. If someone lets you out or gives you space, give them a big smile and obvious thanks - they will then do it again and again for other riders. The sooner the cars vs bikes conflict is resolved the better.