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“simply riding a bike”

March 11, 2017

I’ve wittered about this before I know, but after this recent encounter below, when the local press asked me about my experience of ‘riding a bike’, I had to respond.

Please look out for, and have a little due care and attention for, that person, simply riding their bike.

I like many other mums, fathers, daughters, and sons ride a bike to work.

The people you see on pedal bikes are just like you and me – people with hopes, cares, worries and ambitions. A person on a bike might be Mrs Miggins, Mr Chopra, cousin Johnny or little Veena. They have simply opted to ride a bike today*.

I’m privileged, as many are, to be able to bike daily to work rather than drive a car: It’s cheaper, it’s vastly healthier, and it has given me a new outlook on ‘stuff’ – an experience that I find priceless. After more than five years riding a bike daily, I’ve found myself having been through many ‘cyclist’ stages. Yes, the cycling ‘sport’, for fit adrenalin-fueled contenders is another matter – it’s not what I do. What I’m talking about is simply everyday people getting on a bike to pop to work, or town or wherever.

People on bikes find themselves in vulnerable positions and face frequent hazards when having to share road space with motor vehicles. One of the biggest discomforts is ‘the close pass’. When the driver of a motor vehicle, drives past a person on a bike without due care and attention; drivers travelling without monitoring and adjusting their speed and distance when faced with other more vulnerable road users. Motor vehicles travel at speed and they have bumpers, fenders, seat belts, airbags, impact absorption cells and safety devices. People on bikes do not. A collision between motor vehicle and a cyclist is speeding metal on mortal flesh – need I say more?

So why ride a bike when you can drive?

It’s taken me considered time to move from a driverly route and attitude to a more pedestrian one. My 9 mile cycle commute now takes me about 40 mins, while at rush hour in the car it’ll take perhaps 30mins. There is provision for people on bikes that is maintained, cleaned and signposted. Yes, it does need better management, upkeep and improvement in places, but it’s there if you look for it. For 90% of my journey I travel on shared pedestrian/cycle paths, designated Cycle Routes, and quiet back streets. But, of course I also have to share the unavoidable main roads.

Only about one mile of my nine mile commute is via main roads, sharing space with motor vehicle drivers. This main road space is where the cyclist can find themselves in potentially dangerous vulnerable positions.

All the law and common sense asks drivers is;

  • make sure the road is sufficiently clear ahead
  • make sure there is a suitable gap in front of the road user you plan to overtake
  • overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so.
  • don’t get too close to the vehicle you intend to overtake
  • pass quickly past the vehicle you are overtaking, once you have started to overtake. Allow plenty of room. Move back to the left as soon as you can but do not cut in.
  • give cyclists at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car
  • look out for cyclists before you emerge from a junction, turning, changing direction or lane
  • when passing cyclists, give them plenty of room. If they look over their shoulder it could mean that they intend to pull out, turn right or change direction. Give them time and space to do so.
  • cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road – give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.

The police have recently started promoting and hopefully enforcing the rules of the road – see here; closepass

“The most effective tool to curtail adverse driver behaviour is the threat of prosecution” West Midlands Police WMP Traffic

Worryingly, there are drivers who do not seem to realise the potential danger of driving without due care and attention.
There are also drivers who seemingly do not seem to care about the potential danger of driving without due care and attention.

*Yes, I agree, people on bikes equally need to ride with due care and attention, and abide by similar common sense rules of the road.

All people on bikes ask, is for drivers to please look out for, and have a little due care and attention for, that person, simply riding their bike.

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  1. People on bikes – again | Jules P. Richards

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