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.