Safer Cycling

My girlfriend, belle, has recently been cycling a lot more regularly. she is on the exponential curve that new commuters face where you seem to experience the full range of savagery from fellow road users in a short period of time.

and following up from the previous post, having commuted in London for 4 years by bike, and now in bristol for 18 months, these tips are useful. i think.

– ride away from the pavement, not in tight. give yourself space – the closer in you are, the nearer cars tend to pass; if they have to think twice, they generally will give youa  bit more room and not pass when it’s patently not safe

– think about road positioning at busy junctions, roundabouts – nearly always you’re best bet is to take a car’s width – don’t be bullied by cars at this point, be assertive, hold the middle – especially if there are two lanes

– if things get a bit sketchy then get off, stop, pause, or walkaround, then get back on

– if someone in a car starts getting nasty then stop, walkaway, don’t engage them at all – this is the best method of avoiding a psychotic road rage incident. i try to follow this advice, but sometimes it’s hard and i just tell the driver to go fuck himself. afterwards i feel a little bit soiled and depressed. generally when things get nasty i stop and ride away.

– if you can’t get to the front advanced stop line at a junction in a row of traffic then again try to take up a car’s width in the line of traffic. don’t get squeezed between two stationary rows of cars

– take necessary steps to ensure your safety – filtering, going through a red where appropriate – but try not to let these to become habitual/complacent behaviours, this is when you are most vulnerable

– remember how amazing cycling is, how brilliant it feels, the psychological and physical benefits, and hold on to these when it seems as though everything is conspiring to get you off the bike. remember that the person stuck in the car – ranting – is not experiencing these benefits. feel smug and carry on.

One thought on “Safer Cycling

  1. Adam May 12, 2010 / 12:19 pm

    Useful tip I got from cycling lesson last year was to be as predictable as possible for people who don’t ride bikes and aren’t aware how they can manoeuvre… which translates as act like a car.

    I was told to always imagine I was the centre of a car so always leave a few feet space either side of me. That means you never hug the curb and pull out in a long curve to overtake parked vehicles instead of swerving out at the last minute. Makes sense and what people expect, just annoying that it means you don’t take full advantage of the manoeuvrability of a bike because you’re fitting in with what’s expected.

    Also didn’t stop me being hit by a bus and a taxi who wanted to be where I was and thought they’d bully me out of the way in the first few months of this year.

    Also looking around and eye contact can often let someone know what you’re doing more than any signalling can.

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