3 rules for cyclists

Coventry has a strong history of cycling as was highlighted in the exhibition that was on over the early part of the Autumn at the British Transport Museum.  Tomorrow in Broadgate, Coventry there is a Cycle Coventry event with the chance to meet Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead, details are here – http://www.coventry.gov.uk/events/event/1677/cycle_coventry.  Fran and I are going along and hoping to get our picture taken with Lizzie :0)

Since the London 2012 Olympics, I have noticed around Coventry and Warwickshire there has been an increase in the number of cyclists on the roads, on all types of bikes from full suspension mountain bikes to carbon road bikes.  I think the Olympic legacy really has inspired more people to get out on their bikes and become a little more active.

Unfortunately, the Olympic legacy didn’t renew the old cycling proficiency test that we took years ago; there is a modern version for kids but adults have simply just got back on their bikes and set off.  If you have recently returned to cycling for commuting or simply tootling at the weekends, here are some simple rules to follow to ensure you stay safe and keep cycling for years to come:

1.  Be SEEN
As obvious as this seems, I see so many cyclists riding around at night and the early mornings dressed like ninja’s without lights on their bikes.  Dressing like a ninja is cool, if your goal is to blend in with your surroundings for mischief but on a bike at night it’s dicing with death.

It’s not just on urban roads that cyclists are going without lights, I drive up the Oxford Road by the Old Peugeot plant a couple of mornings per week and there are a couple of riders on there that aren’t visible until they’re 150m away.  150m might seem a long way but not when on a road with a 60mph speed limit, 60mph equals approximately 270m per second; therefore it takes a little over ½ second.

Lights aren’t expensive either; I bought a set of flashing led lights last week for £5.00.  There are only suitable as a method of being seen rather than for lighting my way, but £5.00 so a motorist can see me and not crash through me is a bargain.

2.  Wear A Helmet
I have heard experienced cyclists say that they don’t wear a helmet because they think motorists give them more space.  This is lunacy, a pothole in the road could cause you to come off and in the battle between your head and a kerb, the kerb will always win.

A basic helmet costs about £15.00 but could be the difference between lying in a coma and getting up with a few bumps and bruises.

3.  Play by the rules
We’ve all done it but nipping up on to the kerb to avoid a traffic light just seems to hit the anger switch on many motorists who then seem to aim at cyclists for the rest of the day.  If you are going to cycle on the road, play by the rules of the road – stop at traffic lights and junctions, don’t cut across lanes and weave between cars to get a little further ahead.  In heavy traffic, stick to one side rather than flicking between lanes.

Bonus Rule – For Motorists
Give cyclists plenty of space, particularly on rural roads.  My arse isn’t a target for your wing mirror, there really is no need to drive past at high speed and only give a few inches, the air flow makes it really difficult to stay on the bike.  For the safety of the cyclist please give them the space you would another vehicle.  For your own safety, please give them the space you would another vehicle, that cyclist you cause to fall off could be me.

To paraphrase Liam Neeson’s character in Taken –

“I have a particular set of skills, skills that I have developed over a long time, skills that will see your car bonnet and face becoming good friends when I catch you at the next set of lights, and I will catch you.”

I’ll post some info about cycling equipment and gadgetry later in the week with a story about why it is always worth having a low tech option.

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