How to…

…Stay safe in the door zone.

The easy answer to this ‘How To’ is that you cannot be safe in the door zone. I have previously written about this subject [here], and it important to reiterate that being ‘doored’ is one of the great unmentioned cycle risks as this rather graphic video shows:

cyclesafeI came across the image above today, and after getting my head around the differences in road layout (driving on the right!) and trying to imaging the traffic chugging along to my left instead of my right, was reminded of the two images below. These should be relatively familiar to you: on the left is the poster publicised by TFL to discourage cyclists from ‘undertaking’ HGVs, and the image on the right is the same poster but with the addition of the very recognisable Cycle Superhighway blue road markings.

tfl tfl1

Generally people assume that the cycle lane is the safest place, but as you can see, between blind spots, the door zone and the simple fact that not all motorists indicate their intentions when they plan to turn left, it is sometimes far safer to take prime position in the centre of the lane. What happens if there is a pothole in the cycle lane and you lose control? You should always allow yourself enough space to manouevre, and although curb hugging may feel comforting, it’s an illusion of safety. Unless there is enough space to allow for a vehicle to safely overtake you, you should discourage them from doing so for your own welfare. This is particularly true at traffic lights, where motorists will often creep into the Advanced Stop Zone, forcing you aside as they zoom off ahead of you.

Remember, it’s better to take abuse for blocking the lane than a wheel across your skull if something goes wrong.

Savvy visor

Any bespectacled cyclist will be familiar with the dilemma presented by rain: a downpour doesn’t only mean that you will arrive at your destination looking bedraggled, but the likelihood is that a large portion of your journey will be completed with limited vision as the rain gathers on your specs. Well now I say to you: fear no more! It is time to revisit decades long-gone and invest in an accessory that should otherwise have remained gathering dust in attics or at the bottom of the charity shop bargain bin. No, I don’t mean bum bags, I’m talking about visors!

image

I picked this polka dot visor up in the ASOS sale last summer as part of a wacky thought process… I can’t imagine how this trendy(!) gem ended up in the sale. Regardless, with the addition of a beanie hat I have made it home from work with a dry face and full vision. Plus it’s compact enough to keep in my handbag in case of unexpected showers, whereas a waterproof coat would be far more cumbersome.

For those voting Yes in the great helmet debate, I have in the past been able to force my helmet on over the top, but the thick fabric band on this visor model doesn’t sit as well as a lighter, smaller model might. If you’re shopping for a visor you should take this detail into account.

So what do you say? It may not be the most fashion forward accessory but it certainly does the job!

What tricks do you have to keep dry in the torrents?

How to…

…be courteous when on four wheels. AKA. Motorists take note!

So after my journey-gone-sour into work yesterday. I’m on a mission. Simply put, it is to encourage motorists to (and indeed remind them that they must) INDICATE. Amongst other things. But seriously, cyclists need to learn to balance one handed to indicate a turn, cars only need to flick a lever so why do I so rarely see people actually doing it nowadays?

We all know that after a while driving becomes like most things, a matter of habit. The danger comes when the habits aren’t good ones, or aware ones. So next time people ask you if you find cycling dangerous, don’t smile sweetly and contradict them, respond that it would be safer if motorists would remember to ALWAYS:
– check their mirrors before turning.
– indicate their intention with plenty of noti
ce before turning so that cyclists can respond accordingly.
– check their mirrors before opening car doors, and opening carefully rather than swinging open suddenly.
– when joining traffic, ensuring that the road really IS clear. Remember, the cycle lane is the first thing you will cross.
– overtake with plenty of room between you and the cyclist as you overtake, and also after when you pull back into the lane ahead of them.

– consider WHY you are overtaking. Is it because you simply don’t like driving behind a cyclist?
– leave plenty of room for a cyclist ahead of you too: tailgating is DANGEROUS.
– DO NOT stop in the advanced sto
p zone. Motorists are required by LAW (Highway Code 178) to stop at the first line, NOT in the cycle box.
– SMIDSY (“sorry mate I didn’t see you”) is NOT an acceptable excuse.

Local Councils have been steadily increasing safety levels for cyclists by introducing new cycle lanes, repaving roads and educating HGV drivers and cyclists themselves as to how to avoid collisions with one another. London is wallpapered with posters encouraging cyclists not to filter at traffic lights, to beware of HGVs, and so on. At the other end of the spectrum bus conductors have been receiving training which includes a DVD entitled ‘Big Bus, Little Bike’.

Yet with this reportedly annual training, how do you explain the bus drivers that overtake simply to pull into a bus stop directly ahead? Or the one I encountered yesterday on Waterloo Road who coasted on the edge of the cycle lane I was in and simply stared at me as I struggled to turn the corner onto the bridge with the little space he had left me. There appeared to be no reason for him to pull up beside me in that vulnerable point of road other than to peer out at me.

A lot of cycle safety information tends to be geared towards cyclists but as the London Cycling Campaign appropriately pointed out in their response to one of TFL’s poster campaigns, emphasis needs to be brought to conscientious driving above all. After all, cyclists are far more vulnerable than cars, taxis, and of course, buses and vans.

Below is an interesting excerpt from some notes I stumbled across on parliament.uk. The full Bill is a little long winded but this particular section caught my eye.

Continue reading

how to…

….secure your bike.

What do you take into account when it comes to parking up your bicycle? Is it something that you think about before you begin your journey or only when the time comes? If you saw the image in How to keep your bike safe on the street [June 3 2010] or the original posters, you might already have an idea of the guidelines given by both MoL and other cyclists.

Here are some of the basic pointers:

  • Remove any accessories before you leave your bike. Knog lights are great because there’s no fuss when it comes to unclasping them, but other lights and accessories have quick-release clasps.
  • Always try to lock both your frame and at least one of the wheels: this will stop thieves from making off with odds and ends, i.e. leaving you stranded with only one wheel.
  • Use two different types of lock if possible: this means that a thief will need two different tools to get your bike loose.
  • Invest in a decent lock, and remember that “locks are not for life” and will need replacing sooner or later.
  • Find out if your employer offers indoor cycle parking, if not suggest they take on the Take a Stand scheme, then scout the area for a safe place.
  • When securing your bike outdoors consider the following: how strong is the bar you plan to use? Can it be broken or moved easily? How busy is the area? Avoid quieter streets where thieves can get to work undisturbed. Are there any other (more expensive!) bikes around?
  • Try to avoid having the key on a D-lock facing upward or the lock too tight  or too loose.
  • Join Bike Revolution and get your bike tagged!

The Guardian posted an interesting feature on their bike blog, entitled “Bike thief tells how to stop your cycle from being stolen“, which is well worth reading, especially for his insider tips regarding CCTV.

how to…

….make your mark.

3 Feet Please is a campaign to that aims to change legislation that will ensure that cyclists are given more space on the road. According to their website, the Highway Code ‘advises drivers to  “give vulnerable road users at least as much space as you would a car”‘, an undefined space that is subject to interpretation.

Find out more and join the campaign (then lobby your MP!) on the website, here, or ‘like’ their Facebook page.