Staying safe on bike ridden roads.
A guest post by Tora Saxon of National Accident Helpline
It is difficult to estimate how many people were encouraged onto their bicycles following the Olympics last year, and equally, how many people are benefitting from the recent government investment in cycling around England, but it’s certainly a lot.
Following the ever increasing number of cyclists on the road, the number of accidents has inevitably risen, reiterated by the increasing number of claims National Accident Helpline are seeing year on year. Therefore, all you cyclists out there need to be extra careful on your small framed, two wheeled vehicles – that cycle lane ain’t big enough for the both of us…
As documented in the infographic, 92% of all accidents involve another vehicle, whether it is another cyclist or an engine powered vehicle. Here are a few tips which will aid you whilst trying to survive on the roads:
Even though your competitive nature might be forcing you to bomb it as soon as the lights go green, let other vehicles go first. Be aware of your actions, signal and let motorists know what you are doing.
Hopefully we’ll be seeing more and more cycling lanes due to the investments – so use them! It’s much safer to adjust your route to incorporate more cycle lanes.
Wear your damn helmet.
Gosh Tora, I don’t really know where to start with this. The infographic is jolly interesting but it strikes me that you’re talking very much from the point of view of a motorist. Or at least from the point of view of someone who lives in a society which accepts the car/motoring culture as the ‘norm’.
Cycling is not in itself a dangerous activity. On the contrary, it’s widely known that the positive health benefits of cycling outweigh the dangers by a factor of 20 to 1. The rise in cycling commuter numbers has, of course and inevitably, led to an increase in cyclist KSI rates. In the UK cyclists have an entitlement, a right, to use the roads. Car drivers have responsibilities. They also require qualifications and licenses. Cyclists are entitled, motorists require permission. And, lest we forget, cyclists were here first. Cyclists have every right to use the roads, to go about their legal business without the ever present threat of car violence. So your ‘advice’ that ‘cyclists need to be extra careful’ really grates. Your plea needs to be directed, not at cyclists but at the drivers of the motor vehicles which pose the danger. You say that ‘bicycles are the ‘least visible vehicles on the road’. Again, your advice, such as it is, would be far better directed at motorists. When you pass your test to earn the privilege of driving on our roads it’s made clear that drivers have a duty of care to other road users. Drivers should be driving in such a way as to expect the existence of cyclists. Driving in the distance they know to be clear. That means looking out for other road users, bollards, errant peds and even cyclists.
Your next piece of ‘advice’; ‘to let other vehicles go first’. Where did you get this from? It’s not in the Highway Code and it’s not to be found in the guidelines of The National Standards for Cycling (Bikeability). I fear you might have made this bit up.
Urging cyclists to wear flourescent garb, reflectors and helmets shifts the burden of responsibility away from those responsible for the danger onto the victims of that danger. It’s like telling everyone to wear camo and bullet proof vests when theres a mad man running amok with a gun. Or, and forgive me for stretching the analogy, expecting women to dress down and not go out after dark to avoid being raped.
Please. Tell it to the perpetuators of car violence – not the victims. Wear a damn helmet? Really? Go ahead and find me a single shred of evidence that cycling safety helmets have any measurable efect on cycling KSI rates. I can predict with a high degree of confidence that you will not.
If people are being knocked off their bikes it’s not because they’re riding bikes in traffic it’s because drivers aren’t taking enough care. I know this to be true because I ride and I drive and the world is full of idiots who don’t give a damn about others on the road or the quality of their own driving.
If your attitude is representative of the views held by the general motoring population and/or the people who make up the UK insurance industry – I despair. It’s no surprise that cycling is such an unpleasant experience on British roads.