Thursday, 8 November 2012

It can happen to even the greatest cyclists #roadsafety

Not Bradley Wiggins crash
The news that Bradley Wiggins has been involved in a crash on British roads while riding his bike shouldn't come as a surprise to any who cycle. The fact that it happened in a relatively quiet village and  to the winner of the Tour de France has garnered media attention of this scale.

While I was a student in Kingston I soon learnt that not all road users could follow simple rules such as:

  • Lane markings: I once got squeezed between two cars while turning right, the one of my left was in a left turn only lane at the lights.
  • Overtaking without due caution: I was once looking to turn right, and waited for a van to come past me before heading to the centre of the road. As I checked over my shoulder to move out the van broke right in front of me breaking my jaw.
  • Pulling across lanes without checking: I was once cycling along in a cycle lane in rush hour traffic for a car to turn through the gap left my a car right in front of me. I couldn't break in 1m so took an excursion over their bonnet.
  • Open doors without checking: On a different day but on the same stretch of cycle lane a car once parked in a no-parking zone for that time of the morning, straddled the cycle lane. I had to pull out to go around them, only to be greeted by an opening driver's door in the face. Fortunately the car behind me managed to stop just in time to merely tap my back as I lay on the ground.
There are just a few of the examples, the ones where I came off due to contact. There were other occasions where avoidance action was taken, sometimes throwing myself and/or bike out of the way of inconsiderate drivers.

I admit those misadventures happened over 20 years ago. However, they did total a couple of bike frames and several wheels, and could easily have been fatal, bike helmets weren't en vogue then and I wasn't wearing one. However, there are still stories about cyclists who are obeying the rules of the road suffering injuries or death as a result of other road users, protected in their steel shell not seeing  them or taking attention of them.

Here are some tips.

  • If there is a cycle lane, check if there is a cyclist in it
  • Even if there isn't a cyclist may be coming up the inside of traffic.
  • If you are a cyclist obey traffic lights and stop signs (indeed any part of the highway code) yourself
  •  Leave room on the inside of a slow moving queue of traffic, that is where the cyclists should be able to go safely.
  • If you are going to be parking all day (while going to work etc) don't park over a cycling lane on a main road use a side road
  • Cyclists wear a helmet, armour sadly is a little impractical for side impact protection.
  • Give cyclists room both while overtaking and after you have overtaken, don't take an immediate left after overtaking them wait for them to cross the junction first
  • If driving always be aware of cyclists
  • If cycling always be aware of other vehicles and ride at an appropriate speed for the surroundings (it isn't always a individual time trial)
 I hope that Wiggo has a speedy recovery from his broken ribs to get back into training for next season and that all road users will learn to respect others especially those who are vulnerably exposed on their bikes.

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