Cycling: Let’s be safe out there

Today’s prompt for Blog Every Day In November is ‘Newsflash: talk about something in the news.’

This story in particular struck a chord with me as a cyclist.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has said he will consider the possibility of banning cyclists from wearing headphones, following a spate of deaths in the capital.

Six cyclists have been killed on London’s roads in the last two weeks.

Speaking on BBC London radio, Johnson said headphones were an “absolute scourge” and it was “absolutely nuts” to wear them while cycling.
Boris Johnson considers ban on London cyclists wearing headphones

Boris’ comments have come in for some stick – on the face of it they could appear to be pointing the finger of blame at cyclists and taking the focus away from HGV drivers. And nine out of the 14 fatalities this year have involved HGVs.

Strange as it is to say it, I think that Boris has a valid point on this – cycling with headphones in makes you less aware of your surroundings. You simply can’t hear the other vehicles on the road as well. It’s an incredibly dangerous thing to do, for yourself and for other road users.

And of course Boris is a bit of a twit, as we can see in the photo in this tweet.

Come on Boris, put the phone away. Numpty. And then Boris got caught on film cycling through six red lights, failing to stop at a zebra crossing AND mounting the pavement (thanks to @susborne for the link)

I used to commute into Leeds by bike most days until I moved to south of Wakefield, making the journey impractical. My approach to other road users was always to assume they hadn’t seen you. Never undercut another car/van/bus at a junction. Yes, sometimes it takes a little longer to get to where you’re going, but I’d rather get there in one piece.

Of course there are still accidents, and always will be. Take your eye of the road for an instant, hit a loose rock or pothole and bad things can happen.

Now just to be clear – I’m not for a moment suggesting that it’s the cyclists’ fault.

Other drivers, especially those in vehicles with limited visibility need to be just as aware of their surroundings as cyclists. It’s our duty as road users, all of us, to be safe on the roads, for ourselves and for others.

The Department of Transport has some excellent (though largely common-sense) advice for cyclists… (from the BBC article Is cycling getting more or less dangerous?)

  • Ride positively, decisively and well clear of the kerb
  • Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen
  • Always use lights after dark or when visibility is poor
  • Wear light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark
  • Follow the Highway Code including observing “stop” and “give way” signs and traffic lights
  • Wear a correctly fitted cycle helmet

Don’t get me started on people not wearing bike helmets. That’s a rant for another day. And yes, I have read the research.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

10 thoughts on “Cycling: Let’s be safe out there”

  1. Thank you! I completely agree with Boris, I’ve only cycled with helmets on once, and hated it. I think something needs to be done about cycling atiitudes towards it, and cyclists themselves.


  2. Cycling seems to be more controversial than it should be. I see posts where a cyclist is saying stuff like “Assume all drivers are idiots” Which is a nice safe assumption because I see lots of drivers who are idiots. Problem is I see loads of cyclists who are too so the conversations start off on an aggressive tone. A number of cyclists seem to take the view that cycling positively and decisively is the same as Ignore inconvenient signs and lights, hmm hang on drivers do that too sometimes.
    I guess what I am building up to is that, as in all things the truth is probably in the middle. Drivers are not Angels, also not demons. Cyclists are not Angels, also not demons.
    However, deliberately deafening yourself whilst perched on a fragile light vehicle which offers you no protection is not a choice I would personally make.

    1. I was quite careful not to say that all drivers are idiots! 🙂 There’s bad behaviour on both sides. Both cyclist and drivers jump red lights but it feels like the more vocal drivers handily forget all the times that drivers skim an amber light, at speed, in a large, heavy metal box.

      There’s definitely a truth about the middle ground, which is what I was hoping to get across. If we’re all better equipped to look out for each other, perhaps there’ll be fewer accidents. Cyclists removing their headphones and being more aware of their surroundings seems like a sensible start.

    1. sounds pretty sensible to me! I’ve only cycled in London once, but that was for an overnight charity bike ride. More of that another day…

  3. Living near Oxford I see a lot of cyclists. Not as a car driver but pedestrian. It’s kind of interesting to note that the people who are the hardcore urban or cross country rider, urm, the ones who sport the full-on lycra gear, usually all have helmets (plus some with joint protectors, etc.) and not with headphones in. The more every day but non-sports cyclists don’t seem to follow suit.

    As a leisure walker and occasional hiker, I hate wearing headphones for walks. I’m not all that keen on joggers and runners, as well as cyclists, using them where they have limited visibility in being aware of other people. Being slammed into by anyone moving faster than you is always a potential danger.

    1. Even just pootling around on my bike I’ll always wear a helmet. Just seems daft not to – it’s not just you on the road, it’s the other people!

      1. I agree entirely, and I hope you do write a fuller post on your thoughts about that sometime! I don’t know if this is a common thing to see or not, as it’s purely anecdotal, but I’ve pondered over the families I’ve seen out riding where the kids are usually helmeted up, but the adults in front aren’t. Seems a bit of mixed message somehow?

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